Cogito’s Social Signal Processing Platform…and Avatars!


These days a lot of attention is being paid to the men and women of our military, what with President Obama making surprise visits to the soldiers in Afganistan. But what about the folks who are returning home, many suffering from wounds and scars that are not only external but also internal. And what about their family members who suffer a heavy burden too? Is enough help getting to them and is it coming fast enough?

Cogito Corporation, headquartered in Charlestown, MA, serves organizations responsible for improving the health and well-being of populations by delivering real time call center and mobile based psychological sensing systems that improve customer and patient engagement and detect individual risk of behavioral health problems in populations. Recently Cogito was awarded a contract from the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT). In partnership with ICT, Cogito’s Social Signal Processing (SSP) Platform technology, which assesses “honest signals” or unconscious cues in natural speech and social behavior, will be incorporated into telehealth interactions providing clinicians with a real-time assessment of psychological stress, depression and engagement among U.S. Service members, Veterans and their families. The program will allow clinicians to identify when individuals may be signaling psychological distress by viewing the SSP data on a computer dashboard displayed during telehealth interactions.

I spoke with Cogito Corporation’s CEO, Josh Feast, on SSP and the research planned with ICT.

But just how do these signals relate to the brain? How are they mapped? The nifty diagram above which is found on Cogito’s website shows how the signals we see and hear are mapped to activity in particular parts of the brain. For instance if there is a boost in the volume and energy of an individual’s speech or movement, that is inferred to the autonomic system. Signals having to do with the attention system such as reactions relate to thalamic brain activity. When there is mimicry and/or a lot of nodding then we can infer that mirror neurons are at work. Individuals with halting speech point could be suffering from a large cognitive load, perhaps stress, denoting activity in the cerebellar region. When story, technology and science match we are closer to correct diagnosis and therapy. That is Cogito’s belief and the purpose behind their technology.

Mental health disorders continue to rank among the top health problems worldwide in terms of cost to society. In the US, depression affects 16% of adults, or 32 million people, in their lifetime. Depression is also significantly higher in people diagnosed with a chronic condition, such as diabetes, heart disease or obesity. Recent studies estimate that between 40% to 60% of individuals diagnosed with a chronic condition also suffer from depression. Yet it is estimated that a diagnosis of depression is missed in approximately 85% of patients. Through the innovations and partnerships of organizations like Cogito and ICT, there is hope for a reversal of these sad statistics. For more information on Cogito Corporation please visit their website at

Tags: Brain, Health, Neuroscience, Wellness

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