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LUCID uses AI and neuroscience to unlock the full potential of music to improve the human condition
Steven Loeb speaks with Aaron Labbé, the co-founder and CTO of LUCID, a company using AI technology and neuroscience to unlock the full potential of music to improve the human condition.
Our goal with this podcast is to understand how technology is radically changing healthcare: the way we screen, treat and measure progress and outcomes. Whether tech is helping or hurting our well-being physically and mentally. And whether we’re creating productivity that drives economic costs down while improving are overall health.
Highlights from the interview:
- Labbé is a classically trained musician turned machine learning architect. He was inspired to do the second part mainly out of personal need in his life: he was in his early 20s, while at music school he was dealing with the mental health system, and he had a lot of false starts and failures as part of that. He was inspired to try to come up with some new solutions for the space, something that could potentially provide alternatives to people and really push the idea of personalized care and mental health forward.
- The aha moment for Labbé was when he went home to recover and was having a lot of recommendations thrown his way to meditate, to try to do yoga, and a bunch of other practices, but nothing was hitting quite as good as sitting at his piano and just playing. He also had a lot of friends who were dealing with mental health challenges that had mentioned that music was a huge part of their healing journey. After reading up on it he realized that, beyond musicians, music has a ridiculously powerful effect on the brain and there's many different potentials in terms of health benefits.
- There are a lot of different ways that music can help us, including the way it activates the parasympathetic nervous system. Anxiety is this almost sympathetic response of fight or flight and music has a really strong activation of that opposite nervous system activity that helps restore that response in the brain. Music also triggers a nostalgic response, and this is a very therapeutic benefit for a lot of people who are having challenges with memory or cognitive activity.
- LUCID provides AI music therapy, essentially trying to be an agent in the room with a patient, measuring their responses to musical stimuli, and optimizing a loop by finding the right music for the right patient at the right time. The system can take in a variety of different measurement inputs, whether those be biometric or psychometric inputs, so for anxiety, it's looking for a decrease in arousal and increased valence response. And then the system will introduce stimuli based on what it knows of the patient and it will retrain those assumptions over time by creating that feedback loop.
- For anxiety, the company realized that the unfamiliarity of music is actually a potential benefit, so it sourced a bunch of music from composers worldwide, and composed a lot of music internally, all bespoke for that use case. On the Alzheimer's side, memory recall is such an important factor that it sourced popular music, and it has a catalog of music that will fit that population.
- Music can also help with physical ailments; for example music can have a cascading effect on patients who are dealing with issues with inflammation. It's generally derived from a nervous system response that is then benefiting that physical element. Another use case is athletic performance and there's been really interesting work around the stress response and having having music therapy be a key aspect of an athletic care journey and making sure that people can physically perform. At the end of the day, it all derives to the nervous system, which has some pretty compounding effect on physical health.
- COVID had a lot of negative impacts but there were some of the silver linings, including that people started to recognize their mental health a lot more. Labbé believes that's an important move for us as a society as a whole, to recognize that our mental health is something that needs to be taken care of, anxiety is real, and all of these things are very important for us to monitor.
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