Can Typos Give Insight Into Your Mental Health?

UIC Department of Psychiatry

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Can Typos Give Insight Into Your Mental Health?

llustration: Matheus Muniz
llustration: Matheus Muniz

Researchers test app that monitors changes in typing patterns to predict—and maybe someday treat—psychological episodes.

The latest wearable technology can reliably track heart beats and notify users of any irregularities. Up next? Reliably tracking your brain and mental health.

A team of researchers at the Center on Depression and Resilience at the University of Illinois at Chicago is working on technology that could monitor users’ mood and cognition—important indicators of mental-health stress—by tracking their typing patterns with an iPhone app called BiAffect. Initial research has found it is possible to predict episodes of mania and depression among users with bipolar and major depressive disorder based on changes in their typing habits.

For instance, a manic episode may be preceded by rising numbers of typos, faster typing, more frequent use of the “delete” key or tremors detected by the phone’s accelerometer, which measures the device’s tilting and orientation. During depressive episodes, users withdraw from their personal technology and tend to send short, infrequent messages.

“It doesn’t track what you type, but how you type it,” says Dr. Alex Leow, an associate professor from the university’s College of Medicine and lead researcher on the project. 

Read more at: The Wall Streeet Journal

Featured Faculty

Olusola Ajilore MD, PhD

  • Associate Professor
  • Associate Director, Residency Training and Education
  • Director, Psychiatry Residency Neuroscience Research Tracks

(312) 413-4562
oajiloreatuic [dot] edu

Alex Leow MD, PhD

  • Associate Professor in Psychiatry and Bioengineering

(312) 768-8842
weihliaoatuic [dot] edu