Tools for Well-Being | Lectures
8

Lectures

Topics:

Manufacturing Taste, Wed 9/10 10.30am-12pm in E14-633, Kevin Slavin, Assistant Professor, MIT Media Lab
Abstract
Our tastes and predilections for food are based neither on instinct or information, but cultural factors that are frequently derived from business imperatives. Yet habits emanating from these cultural factors become 'learned' instincts, complicating intervention strategies aimed at changing such habits. In this talk, I give a brief overview of the broad principles used to form those tastes, some specific examples of how they’ve been made manifest in American diet and health. I also discuss how similar principles can (and must) be put into practice when working to affect positive change.

Bio
Kevin Slavin is the Benesse Career Development Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab. As an entrepreneur, Kevin Slavin has successfully integrated digital media, game development, technology, and design. He is a pioneer in rethinking game design and development around new technologies (like GPS) and new platforms (like Facebook).
In 2005 he co-founded Area/Code (acquired by Zynga in 2011), where he developed large-scale, real-world games using mobile, pervasive, and location-aware technologies. This included work for major companies, including Nokia, Nike, and Puma, and also for media giants, including MTV, A&E, the Discovery Channel, CBSl, and Disney. He co-founded AFK Labs in 2008, designing next-generation responsive environments, including one for what was then the largest and densest sensor mesh on the planet.

Slavin has taught at NYU’s ITP, the Cooper Union, and Fabrica, and has worked as a creative director and strategic planner in advertising agencies, including DDB and TBWA\Chiat\Day. He is currently working on producing a TV show for network broadcast. As an artist, his public, city-scale work has been exhibited in Frankfurt’s Museum fuer Moderne Kunst and the Design Museum of London. He has been written about in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Wired, and Fast Company. He received his BFA from the Cooper Union, where he is a Trustee.
How to measure stress, engagement, and positive affect, Wed 9/17 10.30am-12pm in E14-633, Rosalind Picard, Professor of Media Arts & Sciences, MIT Media Lab
Abstract
Two of the main components of wellbeing are engagement and positive affect. Stress is often derided as harmful, but it can also be helpful for motivating achievement and for enhancing performance. Our lab has pioneered a number of ways to measure these kinds of affective states, with emphasis on making non-obtrusive measures that are objective, such as wearable sensing of physiology, camera-based measures of facial expressions, vocal expressions, and more. This talk will show live demonstrations of some technologies and discuss what they can and can't (yet) do.

Bio
Professor Rosalind W. Picard, Sc.D. is Founder and Director of Affective Computing Research at the MIT Media Lab. Picard is the author of the book Affective Computing, which gave rise to the field by that name. She holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering with highest honors from the Georgia Institute of Technology and master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT. Since joining the MIT Media Lab Faculty she has authored more than 200 scientific articles and been named an inventor on more than two dozen patents. Picard was also a founding member of the IEEE Technical Committee on Wearable Information Systems helping launch the field of wearable computing. As an entrepreneur, she co-founded Affectiva, Inc, which is today the leader in measurement of facial expressions online serving more than 300 Global brands in over 70 countries with over 4.5 billion emotion points measured. She also co-founded Empatica, Inc., which is creating wearable sensors and analytics to improve health, bringing to market a sensor for epilepsy based on work that started by comfortably measuring stress in autism. Picard and her work have been featured in New Scientist, the Wall Street Journal, Wired, Fast Company, the New York Times, Forbes, Technology Review, and numerous shows such as BBC Horizons, Scientific American Frontiers with Alan Alda, and BBC Hard Talk.
Diet and Health: An Update, Wed 10/1 10.30am-12pm in E14-633, Professor Walter Willett, Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health.
Abstract
For much of the last 25 years the focus of nutritional advice has been to reduce total fat intake and consume large amounts of carbohydrate. However, this advice was inconsistent with many lines of evidence indicating that unsaturated fats have beneficial metabolic effects and reduce risk of coronary heart disease. More recent evidence has also shown that the large majority of carbohydrates in current industrial diets, consisting of refined starches and sugar, have adverse metabolic effects and increase risks of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Also, red meat consumption is associated with increased risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and total mortality, and replacement of red meat with nuts and legumes is strongly associated with lower risk of these outcomes. Thus, in an optimal diet, most calories would come from a balance of whole grains and plant oils, and proteins would be provided by a mix of nuts, beans, fish, eggs, and poultry. Higher intake of fruits and vegetables (not including potatoes) is associated with lower risks of cardiovascular disease, although the benefits for cancer prevention appear to be less than anticipated. A shift from the current US diet to a more optimal way of eating would have a profoundly beneficial effect on health and wellbeing of Americans.

Bio
Dr. Walter Willett is Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition and Chairman of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Willett, an American, was born in Hart, Michigan and grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, studied food science at Michigan State University, and graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School before obtaining a Doctorate in Public Health from Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Willett has focused much of his work over the last 35 years on the development of methods, using both questionnaire and biochemical approaches, to study the effects of diet on the occurrence of major diseases. He has applied these methods starting in 1980 in the Nurses’ Health Studies I and II and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Together, these cohorts that include nearly 300,000 men and women with repeated dietary assessments are providing the most detailed information on the long-term health consequences of food choices.

Dr. Willett has published over 1,500 articles, primarily on lifestyle risk factors for heart disease and cancer, and has written the textbook, Nutritional Epidemiology, published by Oxford University Press. He also has four books for the general public, Eat, Drink and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating, which has appeared on most major bestseller lists, Eat, Drink, and Weigh Less, co-authored with Mollie Katzen, The Fertility Diet, co-authored with Jorge Chavarro and Pat Skerrett and most recently Thinfluence, co-authored with Malissa Wood and Dan Childs. Dr. Willett is the most cited nutritionist internationally, and is among the five most cited persons in all fields of clinical science. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the recipient of many national and international awards for his research.
Crowdsourcing Mental Health & Emotional Well-being, Wed 10/8 10.30am-12pm in E14-633, Rob Morris, MIT Media Lab
Abstract
More than 30 million adults in the United States suffer from depression. Many more meet the diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorder. Psychotherapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy can be extremely effective, but the demand for these treatments exceeds the resources available. What if we could crowdsource this problem?

In this talk, I describe the design, deployment, and evaluation of Panoply - a crowdsourcing platform for mental health and well-being. The therapeutic approach is derived from evidence-based cognitive therapies and involves helping users think more flexibly and adaptively about stressful situations. I also review previous work in the field of computer-based psychotherapy and I discuss the importance of designing mental health technologies that are optimized for both user experience and therapeutic efficacy.


Bio
Robert R. Morris earned his AB in psychology from Princeton University and his PhD in media arts and sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research lies at the intersection of affective science, crowdsourcing, and computer-based interventions for mental health. He is an award winning designer and his work has been featured in Time, New Scientist, the BBC, and the Boston Globe, among others. Prior to MIT, Morris worked as a research technologist in the departments of clinical and cognitive neuroscience at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital.
Sleep, performance and health in a 24/7 culture, Wed 10/29 10.30am-12pm in E14-633, Chuck Czeisler, Harvard Medical School
Abstract
Sleep deficiency and circadian disruption are endemic in our 24/7 society. Both are particularly prevalent on college campuses, where caffeine-laced energy drinks and amphetamine-based prescription pharmaceuticals are routinely used as performance-enhancing study drugs. Artificial light exposure plays a central role in precipitating sleep deficiency and circadian disruption. Energy efficient solid-state LED lighting, which is typically rich in short-wavelength blue light, will likely be even more disruptive to sleep and circadian rhythmicity than incandescent lighting. Technological innovations that increase nightly sleep duration and reduce circadian disruption are needed to improve cognitive performance, safety and health.

Bio
Charles A. Czeisler, Ph.D., M.D. is the Baldino Professor of Sleep Medicine, Director of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Chief of the Division of Sleep Medicine in the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Czeisler has more than 40 years’ experience in the field of basic and applied research on the physiology of the human circadian timing system and its relationship to the sleep-wake cycle including the application of sleep science and sleep medicine to occupational medicine/health policy. He is interested in the physiology of the hypothalamic circadian pacemaker in humans, photic and non-photic synchronizers of the human circadian pacemaker, temporal dynamics in neuroendocrine systems, homeostatic and circadian factors in the regulation of sleep and alertness, and the application of circadian physiology to occupational medicine/health policy, particularly as it relates to the extended duration work shifts and long work weeks.
Recent Advances in the Understanding and Prediction of Suicidal Behavior, Wed 11/12 10.30am-12pm in E14-633, Matthew Nock, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University
Abstract
In his talk, Dr. Nock will describe recent findings from epidemiologic studies on the prevalence, characteristics and risk factors for suicidal behavior, behavioral studies on psychological processes associated with self-injurious and suicidal behavior, and clinic-based studies aimed at improving the prediction of suicidal behavior.

Bio
Matthew K. Nock, Ph.D. is a Professor of Psychology and Director of the Laboratory for Clinical and Developmental Research in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. Professor Nock received his Ph.D. in psychology from Yale University (2003) and completed his clinical internship at Bellevue Hospital and the New York University Child Study Center (2003). Nock’s research is aimed at advancing the understanding why people behave in ways that are harmful to themselves, with an emphasis on suicide and other forms of self-harm. His research is multi-disciplinary in nature and uses a range of methodological approaches (e.g., epidemiologic surveys, laboratory-based experiments, and clinic-based studies) to better understand how these behaviors develop, how to predict them, and how to prevent their occurrence. This work is funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and several private foundations, has been published in over 100 scientific papers and book chapters. Nock’s work has been recognized through the receipt of four early career awards from the American Psychological Association, the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, and the American Association of Suicidology; and in 2011 he was named a MacArthur Fellow (“Genius Grant”). In addition to conducting research, Nock has been a consultant/scientific advisor to the National Institutes of Health, the World Health Organization’s World Mental Health Survey Initiative, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychiatric Association DSM-5 Childhood and Adolescent Disorder Work Group. At Harvard, Professor Nock teaches courses on statistics, research methods, self-destructive behaviors, developmental psychopathology, and cultural diversity—for which he has received several teaching awards including the Roslyn Abramson Teaching Award and the Petra Shattuck Prize.
Nutritional Medicine and Bio-Individuality in the Prevention of Age-Related Memory Decline and Alzheimer's Disease, Wed 11/26 10.30am-12pm in E14-633, Lisa Mosconi, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine
Abstract
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia, currently affecting over 5 million people in the USA alone. Age-related mild cognitive impairments may affect 2- 3 times as many individuals. As pharmacological treatments for AD are limited, there has been growing interest in identifying non-pharmacological treatment strategies that focus on ameliorating individual medical and lifestyle risk factors as a way of delaying or preventing the onset of AD symptoms. Increasing evidence suggests that diet, a major modifiable lifestyle factor, may play a significant role in preventing or delaying cognitive decline and risk for dementia. While for many years, the general understanding was that AD was a disease of old age, recent breakthroughs in in vivo brain imaging techniques have reversed this paradigm by showing that the brain changes that lead to AD can be detected in predisposed individuals 20-30 years before clinical manifestations of disease become evident. The early appearance of pathological lesions and the progressive nature of cognitive deterioration in AD led to re-conceptualizing AD as a largely preventable illness. There is consensus that lifestyle interventions applied early in the course of AD may be more likely to achieve disease modification. Recent brain imaging studies have begun to clarify how diet and nutrition modulate AD risk in asymptomatic, cognitively normal individuals, especially those at increased genetic risk. There is evidence for associations between higher intake of dietary nutrients such as anti-oxidants, omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and B-complex vitamins, and reduced “brain AD-burden”, as reflected in reduced amyloid-beta (Aß) pathology (i.e. the major constituent of senile plaques) on Positron Emission Tomography (PET) with N-methyl[11C]2-(4'- methylaminophenyl)-6-hydroxy-benzothiazole (PiB); higher neuronal glucose metabolic rates on 2-[18F]fluoro-2-Deoxy-D-glucose (FDG)-PET, and larger brain volumes on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). This lecture will focus on the role of nature (genes) vs. nurture (lifestyle), and on biochemical individuality, as dementia-risk modulators, with an emphasis on brain imaging findings in the preclinical phase of AD. Such knowledge is critical prior to implementing lifestyle and dietary recommendations for prevention and treatment of disease.

Bio
Dr. Mosconi holds a PhD degree in Neuroscience and Nuclear Medicine from the University of Florence, Italy. She is an Assistant professor of Psychiatry at New York University (NYU) School of Medicine, the Director of the Nutrition & Brain Fitness Lab at NYU, and a certified Health Coach & Integrative Nutritionist. Her National Institute of Health-funded research primarily focuses on the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease using biological markers such as positron emission tomography (PET) of glucose metabolism, amyloid deposition, neuro-receptor abnormalities and neuro-inflammation, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and on the role of nature (i.e. genes) vs. nurture (i.e., environment, lifestyle) in modulating risk of age-related cognitive impairment and dementia. Dr. Mosconi is a member of the Society for Nuclear Medicine, the Alzheimer’s Association, the New York Academy of Sciences and the Alzheimer’s Neuroimaging Workgroup of the Alzheimer’s Association. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers; has co-authored several book chapters, including Imaging the Aging Brain (Oxford University Press) and the New Encyclopedia of Neuroscience (Elsevier); and has served as Guest Editor for several peer-reviewed, international medical journals.