OCT 24, 2018 9:45 PM PDT

App Alleviates Symptoms of OCD

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have developed a 'brain training' app that may help people who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) to better ease their symptoms. Such symptoms include excessive handwashing and contamination fears.

Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the study examined how the app in just one week of training, lead to significant improvements. This repetitive and compulsive behavior of OCD is associated with 'cognitive rigidity' or the inability to adapt to new situations or new rules. Stopping the compulsive habits, like handwashing, requires a great deal of cognitive flexibility so that the OCD individual may switch to new activities instead.

Many current treatments, like the drug Prozac, are not always effective, and so researchers are hopeful that their app can be therapeutic for people with contamination fears and excessive washing. The intervention involves videos of the OCD patient washing their hands or touching fake contaminated surfaces.

Image via University of Cambridge

"This technology will allow people to gain help at any time within the environment where they live or work, rather than having to wait for appointments. The use of smartphone videos allows the treatment to be personalized to the individual,” says Professor Barbara Sahakian from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge. "These results while very exciting and encouraging, require further research, examining the use of these smartphone interventions in people with a diagnosis of OCD."

Although the smartphone app isn’t available for public use—researchers are hopeful that further studies can provide more evidence-based results that the app is effective at helping patients with OCD.

"Participants told us that the smartphone washing app allowed them to easily engage in their daily activities. For example, one participant said 'if I am commuting on the bus and touch something contaminated and can't wash my hands for the next two hours, the app would be a sufficient substitute',” explains Baland Jalal, author of the study.

Source: University of Cambridge

About the Author
  • Nouran earned her BS and MS in Biology at IUPUI and currently shares her love of science by teaching. She enjoys writing on various topics as well including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
You May Also Like
OCT 23, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Astronomers Merge AI and Photonics to Find New Earths
OCT 23, 2020
Astronomers Merge AI and Photonics to Find New Earths
Researchers from the University of Sydney have developed a new type of sensor capable of measuring and correcting starli ...
OCT 27, 2020
Immunology
The Genetics of Skin Inflammation, Seen With Unprecedented Clarity
OCT 27, 2020
The Genetics of Skin Inflammation, Seen With Unprecedented Clarity
A recent study published in Immunity details MIT scientists’ exploration of the underlying mechanisms of inflammat ...
OCT 06, 2020
Technology
Web Resources Provide Insights Into COVID-19 Research
OCT 06, 2020
Web Resources Provide Insights Into COVID-19 Research
Web resources are now helping researchers globally to answer critical questions about the COVID-19 pandemic. These resou ...
OCT 13, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Uses of Tandem Mass Spectrometry (TMS)
OCT 13, 2020
Uses of Tandem Mass Spectrometry (TMS)
What is tandem mass spectrometry? A powerful analytical tool that is capable of characterizing complex mixtures in drug ...
NOV 17, 2020
Cardiology
Validating Blood Pressure Functionality in a New Smartwatch
NOV 17, 2020
Validating Blood Pressure Functionality in a New Smartwatch
One of the most exciting advancements in our time is wearable technology. While most see it as a cool piece of tech on y ...
DEC 08, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Advancing Genetic Sequencing with Better Computational Tools
DEC 08, 2020
Advancing Genetic Sequencing with Better Computational Tools
The many advances that have propelled the field of genetics forward have taken a tremendous amount of work in different ...
Loading Comments...