All of Us

Augmented Analytics Can Help Manage Your Mood

by Eliot Arnold

Eliot is developing the world's first mood-improving digital companion. It detects sadness and uplifts with conversations, memories, and video visits from friends and family. Previously, he co-founded crunch data analytics which he sold to Qlik.

MakeUsWell has edited Eliot's insights for clarity and length.


Unhappiness often stems from emotions tied to feeling alone. A lack of meaningful connections or deep shared bonds are also causes.

It's "normal"—especially in our pandemic world—to have a wide range of daily feelings. But once those feelings extend into a prolonged emotional state they are considered a mood. 

Loneliness—a common and powerful mood—is a lingering sadness. It persists when there's no one to share pronounced, pervasive, and lasting reciprocal feelings of care and understanding.

We feel empty and alone. And we begin to think life is meaningless. This makes it harder for us to be happy. And changes our actions.

If gone unchecked, this will change our behavior, cause depression, and physically change our brain. 

Sadness And Depression's Effects

The prefrontal cortex (PFC) regulates our thoughts, actions, and emotions. PFC acts as a gateway to our working memory. This process lets us use current and past memories to regulate real-time emotions, thoughts, or behaviors.

The PFC is our most evolved brain region. But our PFC is also highly susceptible to uncontrollable stressors—feelings of abandonment. This can limit our cognitive abilities. And over time, alter our brain architecture, thinking methods. And our skills to effectively regulate our moods and problem solve. 

When sadness or loneliness rushes in, we have a brief window to interrupt the feelings. Otherwise they start to negatively affect our PFC. And increase the probability of a negative thought spiral.

The Hippocampus

The hippocampus can shrink due to old age, chronic stress, and disease. Ongoing depression can shrink the hippocampus by up to 20 percent. 

But the hippocampus can self-repair and grow!

These thumb-sized brain areas can generate new neurons daily. Many of the 700 neurons produced daily end up not surviving their premature phase. But mental and emotional stimulation can have a significant impact on how many neurons are produced above-and-beyond that 700. And the percentage of those neurons get the chance to mature.

The hippocampus can grow robust with the right continued stimulation. This can happen between several weeks to a few months. 

The hippocampus is highly involved in the formation of new memories. It also processes, organizes, consolidates, transfers, stores, and recalls existing memories. 

When the hippocampus isn't dealing with memory storage or other stuff, it works with your PFC to manage emotions and feelings. 

How Can Data And Augmented Analytics Help?

Our long-term memories are stored in our PFC and the hippocampus. Our brain also saves emotions and senses corresponding to these memories. 

If our brain is forced to recall those long-term memories on a regular basis, it can trigger accelerated activity. This signals to the brain to devote attention to grow the PFC and hippocampus. The higher functioning the regions become, the better they are at managing negative emotions.

This is where data and augmented analytics can help.

When combined with a technology platform that's always around, the algorithms and augmented analytics constantly learn and monitor key indicators of negative emotions. 

It can understand what snaps the person out of those feelings and interrupt those thoughts before they spiral. 

Then, with additional behavioral data, and armed with a supply of positive emotion-evoking triggers, the platform can do good. The platform can encourage more activity and development in the parts of the brain responsible for regulating those negative emotions.