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Linking Mental Health and Exercise via Remote Sensing


DECEMBER 3, 2021

Lorie Loeb
Professor, Computer Science
Director/Founder Digital Arts Programs
Faculty Director/Co-Founder DALI Lab
Dartmouth College

Jeremy R. Manning, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychological & Brain Sciences
Dartmouth College

About the Presentation: Physical exercise can benefit both physical and mental well-being.  Different forms of exercise (e.g., aerobic versus anaerobic; running versus walking, swimming, or yoga; high-intensity interval training versus endurance workouts; etc.) impact physical fitness in different ways.  For example, running may substantially impact leg and heart strength but only moderately impact arm strength. We hypothesized that the mental benefits of exercise might be similarly differentiated.  We ran two studies to test our hypothesis.

In a first study, we collected a year of fitness tracking data from each of 113 participants.  We asked each of our participants to engage in a battery of memory tasks.  We found that participants with similar exercise habits and fitness profiles tended to also exhibit similar memory performance profiles.  These effects were task-specific in that different exercise patterns or fitness characteristics varied with different aspects of memory, on different tasks.

In a second study, we developed a smartphone application that allows us to track user’s physical fitness and health-related activities, and to periodically engage in a calibrated set of “games” that probe different aspects of memory performance.  The application enables us to causally manipulate when and how users exercise, and when they engage in the memory tests, over a three week interval.  We are testing the degree to which specific exercise regimens can be designed to enhance specific aspects of memory performance.

About the Presenters:  Jeremy Manning is an assistant professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College and directs the Contextual Dynamics Laboratory. His research is on understanding the brain network dynamics that support real-world learning and memory.  He holds BS degrees from Brandeis University in Computer Science and Neuroscience, and a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania. He completed his postdoctoral training at Princeton University. Professor Manning is passionate about computational training and methods development. He leads development of several popular Python toolboxes including hypertools, supereeg, and timecorr, and is a contributor to several others. He Co-Directs the Methods in Neuroscience at Dartmouth Computational Summer School and teaches several open courses on data science and cognitive neuroscience.

Lorie Loeb is a Research Professor in the Computer Science Department at Dartmouth College and the Faculty Director of the DALI Lab.  Lorie’s research focuses on presenting information in ways that create an emotional connection to data in order to increase impact and motivate people to change behavior. Lorie is also the Director of Digital Arts (undergraduate and graduate), the Co-Founder/Co-Advisor of the Human Centered Design Minor, and Deputy Director for UI/UX Design in the Emerging Technology and Data Analytics Core for CTBH.