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  • Detection and Computational Analysis of Psychological Signals (DCAPS)

    As a result of combat exposure, warfighters may return home from deployments with psychological health challenges and find it difficult to reconnect with family and society at large. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs’ National Center for PTSD, studies show that between 12 and 25 percent of military personnel who had returned from Afghanistan and Iraq as of 2008 may suffer from PTSD. (1) Despite best efforts to improve awareness and care, additional studies reveal that only a small fraction of warfighters seek help dealing with psychological health issues. The Detection and Computational Analysis of Psychological Signals (DCAPS) program aims to develop novel analytical tools to assess psychological status of warfighters in the hopes of improving psychological health awareness and enabling them to seek timely help.

    As a result of combat exposure, warfighters may return home from deployments with psychological health challenges and find it difficult to reconnect with family and society at large. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs’ National Center for PTSD, studies show that between 12 and 25 percent of military personnel who had returned from Afghanistan and Iraq as of 2008 may suffer from PTSD. (1) Despite best efforts to improve awareness and care, additional studies reveal that only a small fraction of warfighters seek help dealing with psychological health issues. The Detection and Computational Analysis of Psychological Signals (DCAPS) program aims to develop novel analytical tools to assess psychological status of warfighters in the hopes of improving psychological health awareness and enabling them to seek timely help.

    DCAPS tools will be developed to analyze patterns in everyday behaviors to detect subtle changes associated with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and suicidal ideation. In particular, DCAPS hopes to advance the state-of-the-art in extraction and analysis of “honest signals” from a wide variety of sensory data inherent in daily social interactions. DCAPS is not aimed at providing an exact diagnosis, but at providing a general metric of psychological health.

    DCAPS also aims to develop novel algorithms for detecting distress cues from users who opt in to provide data such as text and voice communications, daily patterns of sleeping, eating, social interactions and online behaviors, and nonverbal cues such as facial expression, posture and body movement. The outcomes of these analytical algorithms would be correlated with distress markers from neurological sensors for improved understanding of distress cues.

    Privacy and security are of paramount concern to the DCAPS program. Program data will be collected with the informed consent of individuals involved and stored in a secure, private data-sharing framework. DCAPS will develop, in conjunction with leading privacy experts, a novel trust framework such as envisioned in the National Strategy for Secure Identity in Cyberspace. This trust framework will allow warfighters to control and safely share their “honest signals” data.

    References:

    1) United States Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center for PTSD (October 2009). How Deployment Stress Affects Children and Families: Research Findings. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved February 29, 2012 from http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/pages/pro_deployment_stress_children.asp 

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