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Shrink Rap Radio - Stress and How to Short-Circuit It with Amy Serin PhD

Stress and How to Short-Circuit It with Amy Serin PhD

Amy Serin is a world-renowned neuropsychologist who is on a mission to teach you how to shut off the stress switch, which is the name of her new book: The Stress Switch, The Truth About Stress and How to Short-Circuit it. She has spoken at over 100 conferences, has been featured in the Huffington Post,, and has been honored with many entrepreneurial awards. As a neuropsychologist and stress expert, she understands the complexity of brain-based issues and utilizes cutting-edge, integrative approaches to help people reach their own individual goals. Serin’s approach to switching off the stress switch is both scientific and holistic and stems from a broad educational background. She graduated from Arizona State University, where she was Valedictorian and holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a specialty in Pediatric Neuropsychology from The Fielding Institute in Santa Barbara, California. Dr. Serin completed her training at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and several private practices before opening a practice to serve Phoenix and the West Valley. She is President-Elect of The Arizona Neuropsychological Association and a member of the International Society for Neurofeedback and Research, the Arizona Psychological Association, the National Academy of Neuropsychology, and Arizona Children’s Services Network. Dr. Serin is the founder of Serin Center neuropsychology clinics offering psychological and neurological assessments for the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of conditions. Dr. Serin, invented TouchPoints, a noninvasive lifestyle wearable that is a U.S. patent pending neuroscientific technology to relieve stress by over 70% in as few as 30 seconds.

Techlicious - 6 Innovative Back To School Products

6 Innovative Back To School Products

The majority of parents (86 percent) and educators (79 percent) agree that technology is a crucial part of a child’s education, according to a new study by the Consumer Technology Association. Introducing your child to technology at an early age gives them a head start on digital literacy skills they’ll use their entire lives, and can teach them problem-solving and critical thinking skills that will help them tackle other topics in the future.

But when it comes to buying high-tech toys for your child, you have a lot of options. These six products are our favorites for giving your child an early start on their high-tech skills.

Square Off Smart Chess Board

Chess is a great way to teach kids problem-solving and decision making, skills they’ll be able to use for the rest of their lives. But it can be hard to teach chess without having a chess expert in the house — which is where Square Off comes in.

This smart chessboard lets your child play against the AI or chess players around the world. The AI has 20 difficulty levels to hone chess skills and keep your child challenged and learning. Combined with the ability to connect with human chess players for remote games, Square Off offers endless variety. And unlike chess software, Square Off is a physical chessboard with pieces that move all on their own, letting your child play just like there is someone in the room. And the child's opponent only needs the Square Off app (free for iOS and Android), making it great for friends and family who live far away.

It’s the perfect chess partner for your child.

Price: Starts at $389 from Square Off

Echo Dot Kids Edition Smart Speaker

Amazon’s Echo Dot Kids Edition, powered by the Alexa voice assistant, is a fantastic hands-free helper. It can turn on the lights in the living room, read recipes in the kitchen and even answer questions. But this smart speaker can also help your kids learn spelling, math, and other skills, as well as offer plenty of kid-appropriate entertainment options. Alexa can answer questions about spelling and math, and kids can ask all kinds of general knowledge questions to help with homework — or just satisfy their curiosity. Alexa can even help manage their day with alarms, a chore chart and the ability to voice chat to talk to your child from across the house.

For entertainment, a one-year FreeTime Unlimited subscription is included with the Kids Edition of the device, with membership costing $2.99/month for Prime members or $4.99/month for non-Prime members after the first year. The subscription offers access to tons of kid-friendly content, with more than 1,000 Audible audiobooks, podcasts, and skills from brands like Disney. Your child will never lack for something to do, and Amazon’s curated content is always age-appropriate.

With the Kids Edition, you also get a 2-year worry-free guarantee. If it breaks, Amazon will replace it: no questions asked.

Price: $69.99 from Amazon

TouchPoints for Kids Stress Relief

Stress and anxiety aren’t just problems for adults. Your child may experience stress from managing schoolwork and responsibilities, maintaining friendships or coping with bullying, changes such as moving or divorce, and plenty of other things. And just like adults, stress can have negative health consequences.

TouchPoints for Kids are bands worn around each wrist that produce gentle micro-vibrations to calm stress and reduce anxiety. The product was developed by a neuropsychologist and the underlying technology, Bi-Lateral Alternating Stimulation Tactile (BLAST) technology, has been proven through multiple studies to immediately reduce beta wave activity in the brain, a sign of stress. A quick 15-minute treatment can calm your child, which can help with tantrums, ease them to sleep at bedtime, and reduce anxiety over tests or other stressful situations.

TouchPoint is a great supplement to your child’s existing routine, cutting down on stress so they can focus on their day-to-day activities.

Price: $159.99 from TouchPoint

Itty Bitty Buggy Programmable Robot

High-tech toys can be fun and educational at the same time, teaching STEM skills like coding. And if you’re looking to boost your child’s STEM skills, you can’t go wrong with the Itty Bitty Buggy, a programmable robot that can teach basic coding as well as more advanced concepts.

The bot kit comes includes everything kids need to build the Buggy and four other projects: Sloth, Ladybug, Dodo Bird and Alien. When your child has run out of projects, an expansion pack ($19.99) adds three more. And, of course, they can design their very own bots, and even expand on their designs with LEGO and other building blocks.

Bots can be controlled by remote or by voice (via your Android or iOS device), or your child can program it with the simple Scratch drag-and-drop coding interface. When your child becomes more skilled, they can create programs using Arduino or Python, the same programming languages used by actual coders. All in all, the Itty Bitty Buggy offers four levels of difficulty, making it an educational toy your child can learn from for a long time.

Price: $59.99 from Microduino

HP ProBook x360 11 G3 & G4 EE Convertible Laptop

Though there are lots of high-tech teaching tools, computers are the most essential. They unlock access to countless educational resources, from word processors to type up assignments to web searches to find information on any subject. Easy access to a computer lets your child get a head-start on building technical literacy and can improve learning outcomes.

But what should you buy? To get a sense, check out Education Edition products like the HP ProBook x360 11 G3 — and the more powerful G4.  They are lightweight and rugged, so they are easy to carry, and can be used as a standard laptop or folded into the stand, tent, or tablet modes. An optional pen lets kids take handwritten notes or sketch right on the screen.

To keep this laptop safe on the go, they have shock-absorbing molded rubber trim, a resilient Gorilla Glass screen, and a spill-resistant keyboard. That means they should be able to survive many mishaps and will be just fine bouncing around in a backpack. And the laptops' slim 11” size and 3lb weight also makes them easy to carry without weighing your child down.

Powered by an Intel Celeron or Core M 8th Gen processor and 4GB of RAM, these laptops aren't built for gaming or heavy computing, which means the laptop you buy for your middle school or high school student doesn't have to be either. 

Boolean Box DIY Computer Kit

This do-it-yourself computer kit lets your child build their very own computer, which is a fantastic way for them to learn STEM skills. While the Boolean Box was designed to encourage girls to take up technology, this kit is suitable for anyone age 8 and up.

The kit includes everything your child needs to put together their own computer without any help. All the essentials — including a Raspberry Pi processor, case, power supply, SD card, HDMI cable, and other components — are right in the box with a set of easy-to-follow instructions. Kids will learn basic electrical engineering concepts as they go, and once they’ve finished putting everything together, it can be plugged into any HDMI monitor.

Then your child can jump straight into coding. Boolean U offers an online curriculum that lets kids learn Scratch and Python programming skills at their own pace. Lessons walk them through creating animation to making games, and plenty of other projects. And if they ever get tired of the curriculum, they can come up with their own projects. Along the way, they’ll learn critical thinking and problem-solving skills — and they’ll be ahead of the game for coding lessons in the classroom.

Price: $169.99 from Boolean Girl Tech

Image Credits: Square Off, Amazon, TouchPoint, Microduino, HP, Boolean Girl Tech

This article first appeared in Techlicious on August 13, 2019 by Elizabeth Harper. To read the full article, click here.

Well Professor? - TouchPoints - Report of the Evidence (An Independent Academic Viewpoint)

TouchPoints - Report of the Evidence (An Independent Academic Viewpoint)

TouchPoint is a non-invasive wearable that uses a somatosensory-based methodology, called Bi-Lateral Alternating Stimulation Tactile (BLAST) stimulation training. They give the user a gentle vibration that affects the brain to reduce body sensations, shift the body's fight, flight or freeze response and create neural pathways.

Having reviewed the website and promotional material, it is claimed using the TouchPoints can relieve stress by over 70% in as little as 30 seconds. As well as alleviating insomnia and general stress, it is also reported that TouchPoints can help users cope with conditions such as Parkinson's, Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The following is a review of the science that supports the claims which has been informed by the personal use and examination of the basic model.

The product was developed by Neuropsychologist Dr. Amy Serin using quantitative electroencephalogram data, existing neuroscience research and archival data of the salience network (SN). The SN consists of the amygdala, insula and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex which are involved in the detection of salient internal and external stimuli. Abnormal conduction in the SN can lead to hyperarousal, fear, stress and potentially Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). BLAST Technology has been shown to positively alter various brain functions and the mechanism of action is consistent with the alternating hemispheric activation hypothesis proposed by Propper and Christman (2008). This postulates that rapidly alternating patterns of electrical activity in the two hemispheres increases inter-hemispheric interaction reducing sympathetic activation by reducing the electrical activity of key areas of the SN.

Dr. Serin has published widely in the area and recent work has highlighted the therapeutic benefit to individuals using TouchPoints with high or pathological levels of anxiety or stress. Serin, Hageman, and Kade (2018) examined 1109 people with PTSD who initially rated levels of emotional stress and bodily distress on a scale of 0 (no stress/distress) to 10 (worst stress/distress of one's life) before and after the application of TouchPoints. Results highlighted a statistically significant reduction in the levels of both emotional stress (62%) and bodily distress (50%) after only 30 seconds of use. Mindful of only referring to evidence published by the products developer, data from two independent studies (albeit unpublished) have been reviewed. 

Firstly, Junior and Johnson (unpublished findings) undertook a placebo-controlled, triple-blind clinical trial of 80 male participants aged 18-35 years who were randomized into a treatment group (n=40) or a control (placebo) group (n=40). Outcome measures were the TouchPoint challenge score (TPC - a subjective rating of the level of emotional stress) and salivary cortisol levels obtained before treatment, immediately following the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) and 20 minutes thereafter. Results showed that the treatment group had a statistically greater decrease in the TPC score relative to the control group both immediately following the TSST and 20 minutes after.  Salivary cortisol levels in the treatment group were also lower than the control group. 

Secondly (unpublished findings) examined 4 pupils with severe learning difficulties in a special education school in South Wales. Behavior was monitored the week prior to using TouchPoints in which their use resulted in a decreased frequency of disruptive behaviors such as lying on the floor, screaming, and hair pulling. However, due to the low sample size, further investigation is warranted.

Once charged the TouchPoint devices were easy to set up, merely having to insert them onto wrist straps. They are typically worn on the wrists but can be held, or clipped to clothing as well as placed around the ankles. They are simple to activate by pressing the 'on button' until a green light appears. The user then selects the desired setting by pressing the button again with the blue light indicating the 'sleep' setting, the yellow light indicating the 'calm' setting, and the purple light indicating the 'anger' setting. The intensity of the vibration increases as you progress through the settings. There is a useful feature in that if you position the second TouchPoint close to the first, with the lights facing each other, the second will automatically synchronize with the first TouchPoint. It is simple to switch off i.e. all that is needed is to hold the two devices away from each other and press the button on each until the lights fade.

Wearing the TouchPoints is no different to wearing a watch on each wrist so they are lightweight and can be easily removed, stored and carried. TouchPoints can be used anywhere and the vibration is no louder than a mobile phone. I was easily able to use it in my office whilst working.

Users are encouraged to undertake a challenge which has been mentioned in the aforementioned research i.e the TPC. I personally rated a stressful event 8 / 10 and did experience what I would consider a significant reduction after a few minutes of use.

One limitation is that the 'yellow' illumination is not that different from the 'green' which took a little time to figure out. I personally found the purple 'anger' setting too intense as it was distracting. However, I found benefit using the 'yellow' and 'blue' settings which I anticipate may not be appropriate for other users. In sum, you have options for preference as the situation demands.

The vision of TouchPoints is to create a more healthy, peaceful, and productive world through a fundamental shift in the way people understand and handle their stress response by making BLAST technology affordable and accessible for everyone. The burgeoning evidence suggests that TouchPoints may be effective in reducing stress and anxiety and may lead to reduced inflammation after exposure to stressful situations. The claims and benefits of TouchPoints are supported by specific product testing by academics. 

I used TouchPoints multiple times and recommend visiting the product website for more details at


Propper, R.E. and Christman, S.D. (2008). Interhemispheric Interaction and Saccadic Horizontal Eye Movements Implications for Episodic Memory, EMDR, and PTSD. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 2(4), 269-281.

Serin, A. Hageman, N. and Kade, E. (2018). The Therapeutic Effect of Bilateral Alternating Stimulation Tactile Form Technology on the Stress Response. Journal Of Biotechnology And Biomedical Science, 1(2), 42 -47.

Unpublished findings x 2

This article first appeared in Well Professor in June 2019 by Dr. David Broom Ph.D. To read the full article, click here.


Well Professor? - TouchPoints


Fear and anxiety hold us back. Fear of failure, fear of what has happened, or what may happen. In modern life, it is everywhere. According to Forth (2018), in the UK we feel stressed and anxious an average of nine days per month, and over half of us worry about the impact this is having on our health. Anxiety over money and work are also never far from our minds. We start worrying early in life too, with 75% of mental health problems becoming established by the age of 24. Touchpoints can combat this anxiety, and it can do it quickly.

Touchpoints work to calm anxiety and stress. Using patent-pending BLAST (Bilateral, Alternating, Stimulation, Tactile) technology. Touchpoints are worn on either side on the body, such as the wrists or ankles, or discretely in a pocket. They work using adjustable vibrations, known as BLAST (Bilateral, Alternating, Stimulation, Tactile) to gently stimulate alternate sides of your body to alter the function of your brain, calming down the sensation of fear and anxiety. Touchpoints are backed by decades of scientific research and they are effective. Studies show Touchpoints can help calm the stress response by 70% in just five minutes.

Who’s behind it?

Touchpoints were invented by neurophysiologist Dr. Amy Serin after a decade of research in her field. Dr. Serin realized that a key part of the effective treatment for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) could be developed into a stand-alone product. After successful trials to demonstrate effectiveness, and with the backing of existing neuroscience research, Touchpoints were ready for launch.

How do you use Touchpoints?

Touchpoints are for the whole family and they can help us in many of the daily situations that we all face. Anxious before an interview? Touchpoints can help with that. Weighed down by negative thoughts? Touchpoints can relieve those too. How about a toddler tantrum? If used early, touchpoints can help prevent these from developing, or if the tantrum is in full swing that can help calm your agitated child. In fact, Touchpoints have such a wide range of applications that Dr. Serin has developed a very handy encyclopedia of Touchpoints uses from A-Z.

Touchpoints and Children

Touchpoints really come into their own when helping children to control their emotions and establish routines, such as when it's time to focus on homework or wind down for bed. One particularly fascinating area is the application of Touchpoints for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), helping them cope with sensory overload and sensitivity in a very accessible way. So much is this the case, that Touchpoints are now helping over 100,000 people with this condition.

The User Lab test

Set up. The initial set up of the touchpoints is very easy, like most things they need charging before you can set them up which is very simple with the double wired USB charging cable that comes in the box. When they are plugged in, a red light will come on and when the light goes off this indicates they are fully charged.

The Touchpoints come as a pair, so one for each side of the body- so when you start them the first unit you switch on will be the ‘Lead’ unit and the second unit becomes the ‘Follower’ unit. These roles are chosen each time you switch them on so it’s not a permanent assignment that you have to remember each time which one the lead and follower last time was when you switched them on.

To switch them on you have to press the button on the ‘Lead’ unit twice and a blue light will come on which is the Sleep setting. When you switch the follower unit on you need to point the lights on each unit at each other and then press the on button on the follower unit. The light will then match that of the lead unit and the two will alternately vibrate to show they are paired with each other. The setting can be changed by then pressing the button on the Lead unit while the lights are facing each other this will change the color of the light on each unit.

  • Blue= Sleep/Meditation
  • Yellow= Calm/Focus
  • Purple= Anger/Irritability

The Touchpoints can then be placed on each wrist as it alternately vibrates on each side. If you don’t them to have on your wrists then you can put them on your ankles or discreetly in your pockets as long as they are on either side of your body they will work. There is an optional belt clip that can be used also if that’s what you prefer.

When turning the units off make sure the lights are not facing each other and press the power button on the top until you see the green lights on the units, these will eventually disappear as the units shut down.

Easy of use. The Touchpoints are convenient and very easy to use, they are small units so are not difficult to keep in a pocket or bag so they easy to carry around and have with you when you need it. I didn’t have any issues when using them and found them easy to use whenever I needed to during the day.

Build quality. The Touchpoint units are reasonably well made, the units are water resistant but not suitable for swimming or getting too wet. I feel there’s more function over design with the touchpoints, the units look quite basic but the function and effect they produce are very good and they work well. So as long as your not too worried about the overall design and value the impressive effect on stress and anxiety this can help with, then these are for you.

What the experts say

We collaborate with some of the greatest minds in the industry, to provide you with a truly independent view of the products we test. The Lab is the heartbeat of Well Professor, where we do all the hard work so you don't have to. Inside you can find the academic reports of the science behind the product technology and see which claims are backed by real evidence.

Read the lab report here

"The claims and benefits of touchpoints are supported by specific product testing by academics." - Dr. David Broom, Sheffield Hallam University

The Well Professor Verdict?

If fear and anxiety are holding you back, Touchpoints are for you. Touchpoints are also for your entire family and the daily emotional challenges you all encounter. There is an impressive level of research behind the creation of Touchpoints, and they work.

This article first appeared in Well Professor in June 2019. To read the full article, click here.



PHOENIX, AZ (June 6, 2019) — The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) announced today finalists have been selected to advance to the final round of the Arizona Innovation Challenge, the agency’s business plan competition for promising early-stage technology companies in high-growth industries.

The 15 finalists were selected from among 25 semifinalists. Up to ten companies will ultimately be chosen for awards up to $150,000 in capital to grow their businesses, advancing innovation and technology commercialization opportunities in Arizona. The competition is held by the ACA in the spring and in the fall.

“Companies that are advancing life-changing technologies continue to scale in Arizona’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Sandra Watson, President & CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. “Congratulations to the Spring 2019 finalists on advancing to this stage of the competition!”

The 15 Spring 2019 Arizona Innovation Challenge finalists include:




Additive Implants Inc.

Bio & Life Sciences

Phoenix, AZ

Admiral Instruments

Advanced Manufacturing

Phoenix, AZ

AdviNOW Medical

Bio & Life Sciences

Scottsdale, AZ


IT - Software

Gilbert, AZ

CATS Tonometer, LLC

Bio & Life Sciences

Tucson, AZ


IT - Software

Phoenix, AZ

EnPower, Inc.

Cleantech/Renewable Energy

Phoenix, AZ

Heads Up Health

IT - Software

Scottsdale, AZ

Innovative Construction Technology

IT - Software

Phoenix, AZ


Bio & Life Sciences

Scottsdale, AZ


IT - Software

Mesa, AZ


Bio & Life Sciences

Scottsdale, AZ


IT - Software

Tempe, AZ

SafKan, Inc.

Bio & Life Sciences

Tucson, AZ

TouchPoint Solution

Bio & Life Sciences

Scottsdale, AZ

Awardees will receive extensive mentoring and coaching from high-level CEOs through the ACA’s Venture Ready Program. In order for the awardees to receive all of their grant funding, they will be required to successfully graduate from Venture Ready within 12 months.

This article first appeared in Arizona Commerce Authority on June 6, 2019. To read the full article, click here.

American Psychological Association - Wearable Technology for Mental Health

Wearable Technology for Mental Health

Digital technology offers real hope for reaching more people with mental health care help. But while the need is strong, the technology might require some patience.

Shortages and uneven distribution of mental health professionals abound, with many rural and poor areas having no coverage at all. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services projects that the shortfall (PDF. 452KB) will only deepen through 2025. Digital technology offers real hope to reaching those people in the future.

"There's also a subgroup of people who have no interest in seeking a face-to-face modality," says Michelle Newman, Ph.D., professor of psychology and a researcher at Pennsylvania State University (PSU) in University Park, Pennsylvania. "Or sometimes this will be the foot in the door" for people who might have been reluctant to seek help.

Portable devices that can gather information, assess activity and other biomarkers, and even deliver interventions have tremendous potential, say the scientists who study them.

"The earlier you can detect a shift in a person starting to go in a negative direction, the better," Newman says. The trick now will be figuring out how to use these new tools to intervene for the good of the individual.

Perhaps one in five Americans has a smartwatch or activity tracker like a Fitbit, which typically returns better quality data than a smartphone presently can, but dedicated wearable technology devices are also being developed specifically for mental health care. Here are a few examples available now, or on the horizon:

  • Abilify MyCite, developed by Otsuka America Pharmaceutical and Proteus Digital Health, is used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and as an adjunct for depression in adults. A sensor in the pill lets a patch the patient wears on his torso know when it's been ingested. Up to three-fourths of patients with schizophrenia do not take their medication as prescribed; nonadherence can result in poorly managed symptoms and major life disruptions. Ability MyCite's usefulness in bettering adherence has not been established, but Otsuka hopes for "clarity" about patient behavior "to better inform decision-making for physicians and their patients," a spokesman said. 

    Abilify MyCite reports to a tracking mobile application (app) on the patient's smartphone, which can transmit the data to the patient's physician. Two years after receiving FDA approval, Abilify MyCite wholesales for $1,650 for a 30-day supply, and remains poised for a limited rollout via selected insurance firms and state Medicaid programs.
  • Amy Serin, Ph.D., a Peoria, Arizona, neuropsychologist, has developed a tactile bilateral alternatingstimulation system, TouchPoints (formerly Buzzies), a pair of wireless devices worn on wrists or in pockets when a patient feels anxious, that Serin says can "change the brain's response to stress to a great degree." The basic model costs $160. While "the concept and even the technology are not new," Serin, who heads up a clinical practice at three centers outside Phoenix, added a wireless portable component and improved the stimulation, and has done or sponsored research to support her contention that TouchPoints "takes away your stress."
  • Awake Labs, based in Toronto, Ontario, has developed and is testing an app on a Samsung smartwatch to allow facility-based caregivers to track the emotional states of adults with an autism spectrum disorder, and respond. Working with Community Living Windsor, a care facility, in a pilot project funded by the Ontario Brain Institute, Awake Labs hopes that data gathered now will make the as-yet-unnamed app usable in more settings, says Andrea Palmer, Awake Labs' chief executive officer.

"The dream for a lot of us has been to be there with our clients, and now tech is allowing us to do that, to be right there with people struggling with stressors," says Adrian Aguilera, PhD, associate professor and a researcher at  the School of Social Welfare at the University of California Berkeley.

The most promising device is the smartphone. More than three-fourths of Americans own one, "this little powerful computer in their pockets," says Aguilera. Smartphones have sensors — accelerometers, for instance, which measure the force of acceleration caused by movement or gravity — with tremendous promise for mental health in the long term. However, wearable technology in general so far is lagging in terms of practical mental health applications. Among the reasons are its novelty, complexity, and cost.

John Carroll, Ph.D., an experimental psychologist, and director of the Center for Human-Computer Interaction at PSU, notes that wearable technology is not for everyone and that it won't suffice for people with severe symptoms. "It's incredibly useful to distinguish the serious cases from the non-serious ones," Carroll says.

"There are a lot of valid concerns," says Timothy Aungst, PharmD, associate professor of pharmacy practice at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, a researcher on digital technology in pharmacy. "For example, what is the data being gathered, and who has the right to access that data?"

The answers to those questions are not always as transparent as the public might think. A recentinvestigation in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 29 of 36 top-ranked apps for depression and smoking cessation shared data with Google and Facebook that could have compromised individuals' privacy, even though the terms and agreements of only 12 of those apps divulged in user agreements that this could happen.

In light of the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016, in which Congress loosened regulation of some medical and mental health innovations, and with the FDA asserting plans to "reimagine" its oversight role when it comes to digital health technology, caution is imperative among clinicians and consumers alike.

Stephen Schueller, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychological science at the University of California at Irvine, and executive editor of PsyberGuide, an online library that rates and reviews mental-health apps, estimates that upwards of 10,000 are available. "Most are pretty bad; some are even potentially harmful," he says. One 2015 survey concluded that most informational apps skimped on core psycho-educational principles, while monitoring apps generally failed to track such critical information as medication and sleep. PsyberGuide, a project of One Mind, generally reviews only the 2  to 4 percent of apps that are evidence-based. Schueller says, "We want to get those out to the public."

The FDA has approved two apps, both from Pear Pharmaceuticals: reSET, which helps improve abstinence from alcohol, cocaine, marijuana and stimulants, and reSET-O, for opioids.

There's a good reason why the smartphone is the chief conduit of portable technology, even though it's not a perfect tool for gathering data. About half of people who own a smartwatch, the most common consumer wearable, stick them in a drawer after acquiring them. The smartphone, on the other hand, is ubiquitous. Especially among younger people, when a smartphone is not on the user's person, chances are that person is either in the shower or asleep.

"The uptake doesn't require any additional thought. It's embedded in what people are doing on a day-to-day basis," says David Mohr, Ph.D., professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University's medical school in Chicago, an APA Fellow, and founder and director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at Northwestern. Mohr's team has developed and studied a suite of apps called IntelliCare that offers interventions for anxiety and depression, now available on Android and iPhone.

Mohr also headed up a team that used GPS and other smartphone features to estimate the moods of unseen subjects by their level of movement and phone use, both frequency and duration. A side benefit of the study was to point up "numerous clinical opportunities" the smartphone offers, including "continuous monitoring of at-risk populations with little patient burden" and just-in-time adaptive interventions (JITAI), appropriate supports delivered when an individual needs them.

But Mohr says that his and other studies have been hard to reproduce. "I've become very skeptical about a lot of data," he says. "We're running into a problem of variability."

That is, the activity level of a 60-year-old, or anyone in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in January, is going to be different from that of a 25-year-old resident of Key West, Florida. "We're going to need to do much larger studies," Mohr notes.

Wearable devices, perhaps a sensor attached to the skin like a temporary tattoo, worn around the clock for a week or so and sending data to a smartphone, may have a role. That data could be more precise than the information a phone can gather, and "the subject wouldn't need to remember to put it on every day," Mohr says.

At the same time, he says, researchers are going to have to do a better job of testing effectiveness — whether a device or an app will actually be useful in a care setting, that is. Testing protocols for digital innovations must also be speeded up and otherwise adapted to reflect how quickly things change in the field, he says.

"Digital technologies are not fixed," Mohr says. "Even during a trial, we have to be continuously optimizing and updating. And so what we should be testing is not the application but the principles. What is the digital service trying to do?"

This article first appeared in the American Psychological Association on June 6, 2019, by Delia O'Hara. To read the full article, click here.

Wilderskies - The Stress Hack You Haven't Heard Of (Yet)

The Stress Hack You Haven't Heard Of (Yet)

College is a stressful time, we’ve got exams to worry about, being broke, annoying guys, staying in shape and on top of all that it feels like we’re supposed to have everything together. College is the experience of a lifetime, but it’s also a huge source of anxiety for many of us. We are privileged to be here and to learn but it comes at a cost, as with anything. What we see in the movies isn’t real, Anna Kendrick did us a dirty one because there’s no way her character in Pitch Perfect wasn’t super duper stressed out all of the time because she was juggling so much at the time. Physically, stress has repercussions. For one, headaches, hyperventilation, and sweats. Yeah, there’s no way they’re going to put that in a Hollywood film because it ain’t pretty.

So where do we go from here? Mental health must not be ignored any further because it’s a prevalent issue in our society of perfection. Luckily, I’ve found something that works for me and I want to share it with you all. It’s called TouchPoints and I’ve been using them for the last month to de-stress, re-focus, and get better sleep. You may be asking, what exactly are TouchPoints? Well, girl, I’ll tell you. TouchPoints are essentially two bands you can wear or put anywhere on your body that vibrate to a certain rhythm depending on what you need. For example calming down after getting angry, focusing during tasks, and falling asleep easier. This is all backed by science. There’s something called “the stress switch” which turns on in response to anything that is anxiety-inducing. TouchPoints uses a patent-pending method called BLAST (bilateral alternating stimulation-tactile). Essentially, Touchpoints eliminates those excess beta waves that cause any sort of stimulation overload via rhythmic vibrations scientifically researched and calculated.

Another benefit of using these devices is that TouchPoints is a company founded by women. Specifically, Neuropsychologist Dr. Amy Serin and CEO and Child Advocate Vicki Mayo. These women wanted to know how they could help themselves and other people reduce everyday stress so they found an alternative way to do just that after researching, creating neuro-studies, and partnering with influential people in the field of neuroscience like Judith Owens who boasts an MD and MPH. She’s also a professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. I believe in the science behind TouchPoints as well as the women behind the scenes who run the company and do the scientific-based research. I’m excited to share this with you all because it’s a real game-changer for anyone who suffers from stress in their everyday lives. Why not give it a try? I did, and I find myself focusing better on those pesky homework assignments, sleeping better, and decreasing general stress when I use TouchPoints.

This article first appeared in the Wilderskies on May 18, 2019 by Skyler Neal. To read the full article, click here.

Brain by Design's Deep Change Videocast - Episode 3: Managing Stress Is a Learn-able Skill with Dr. Amy Serin

Managing Stress Is a Learn-able Skill with Dr. Amy Serin

The Deep Change Project is a year-long journey to discover what's possible at the outer edges of human potential. It represents an adventure through brain-hacking, self-directed neuroplasticity, the latest brain tech, and is creator James Garrett's way of relentlessly trying to rewire the brain and fundamentally change the individual within a year's time. 

In this third episode of the Deep Change Videocast, James invites Neuropsychologist and TouchPoints inventor, Dr. Amy Serin, to explore why stress is not what you think it is, why it's the root cause of many of our problems, and how to get good at managing it. Click to watch or listen to the audio here, and connect with James through his website or on Facebook.


TouchPoint Solutions becomes the 2nd Annual Innovation Nation #MoMadness Champion

TouchPoint Solutions becomes the 2nd Annual Innovation Nation #MoMadness Champion

TouchPoint Solutions is thrilled to announce that our stress wristbands were chosen as the winner of the 2nd Annual Innovation Nation #MoMadness Championship! The Emmy award-winning TV show Innovation Nation chose TouchPoints as one of sixteen innovators from past years of their show for their Mo Madness bracket-style tournament. TouchPoints community over voted stress wristbands to the top and on to become the champions, which continues to show that the world is ready for neurotech and the vision to make the world a better place through applied neuroscience. Thank you to everyone who voted and to our amazing opponent Woof Washer! We appreciate all your love and support.

Spring Tune-Up With Colleen Burns - TouchPoints

TouchPoints on Spring Tune-Up with Colleen Burns

Time for a spring tune-up...for your mental and physical health! Watch Colleen Burns share some amazing ways to take care of yourself and your home in her recent episode of 'Spring Tune-Up' on the Daily Lounge

Spring is a great time to inventory our physical activity, health, and stress level. That may seem like a lot, but you can enhance your health and well-being with some small steps. Literally. Studies have shown walking more may help maintain healthier body weight, boost mood, and decrease the risk of chronic health conditions. For motivation, UnitedHealthcare has launched its 'Step Up For Better Health' Sweepstakes. On behalf of the first 25,000 people to sign the pledge to walk more, UnitedHealthcare will contribute a total of $25,000 to help reduce childhood obesity including contributions to the Boys and Girls Clubs across the country. By signing the pledge, people can become eligible to win one of more than 100 walking-related prizes including Apple Watch or a trip for two to hike the Grand Canyon. Visit UHCWALKINGMAPS.COM to enter and check out 10,000 step walking routes in more than 50 cities.


Did you know 48-million Americans—1 in 5 people-- has untreated hearing loss which is connected to depression, dementia and the risk of falling? The award-winning Phonak Marvel hearing aids automatically adjust to deliver clear, rich sound – even with background noise. Phonak Marvel connects with all your Bluetooth devices so you can stream hands-free phone calls, the TV, and music all day on one 3 hour charge. Visit to find a local provider near you. Click here to learn more.

Ecovac Deebot 711

For a healthier home and more free time Try a robotic vacuum that does double duty The Ecovac Deebot 711 cleans your floors AND keeps allergens in check automatically. Control it with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or use the remote app and you can spend more time with family, walking or meditating. It uses something called Smart Navi Mapping, think GPS, to map your room and avoid missing anything and it has 2 specialized cleaning modes, edge and spot mode, to focus on particularly troublesome messes. The Deebot 711 is an Amazon exclusive. Click here to learn more.


And the Best of CES Winner for Wellness TouchPoints is a wearable device that can reduce your stress level by 70 percent in just 30 seconds. 80-90 percent of diseases are caused by stress, and your body reacts to stress and anxiety in the same way as a physical threat, but the device uses alternating pulses scientifically proven to interrupt the Fight or Flight response. Helping with stress, aggression, sleep, and attention. It’s a hack your entire family can use. Click here to learn more.

This article first appeared on the Daily Lounge. To read the full article, click here.

Calgary Herald - Keenan: A magic gadget for male stress?

Keenan: A magic gadget for male stress?

Stress affects everyone, and it’s not all bad. Without some positive stress, we wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning, or run that marathon, or write the great Canadian novel. Still, the negative impacts of stress are well known, ranging from psychological issues like anger, irritability, and loss of sex drive, to physical symptoms like chest pain, indigestion, and even skin eruptions.

Most studies show a higher percentage of women report being stressed, but men may simply be reluctant to admit it. Denying stress and holding it in may cause even more problems.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a magic button that could somehow clear away stress? I found something that claims to be just that, at my favorite store in San Francisco. Target Open House is a smart home showroom, where you can see hot new tech products that the retail chain might someday sell in their stores.

That’s where I met Amy Serin, a PhD-holding psychologist from Arizona. She was demonstrating TouchPoints™ — two small vibrating buttons that, she claims, “can decrease stress by up to 70 percent in as few as 30 seconds.” The underlying technology is BLAST (bilateral alternating stimulation tactile). You can hold the devices, wear them on wristbands or even put them in your socks to help you sleep.

Serin is the inventor of the device and co-founder of the company that makes and sells it. She was demonstrating it to a woman who said she freezes up with stress when she has to attend a certain business meeting. After trying the Buzzies, as they used to be called, she asked how to order some.

Then it was my turn. Serin had me think about something that was causing me stress and asked what part of my body I was feeling it in. Sure enough, after a bit of vibrating, I did indeed feel calmer and more relaxed, in all parts of my body.

I wound up with a set to test out, along with pointers to some of the studies at Various researchers report good results using the devices for anxiety, autism, irritability, sleep problems, PTSD, and even post-concussive syndrome.

My first brainwave was to take them along when I went to sea with the Royal Canadian Navy since there have been suggestions that vibration devices can help counter motion sickness. But the seas were dead calm.

Then I lent them to a friend with a teenage son who is on the autism spectrum. He gave them a try but found the noise too annoying. He also objected to the thought that the device was manipulating his brain waves, which is exactly what the company claims on their website, showing before and after brain scans with significantly reduced beta wave activity.

The device has three modes, blue for sleep, green for calm and red for anger. There’s also a free app that allows finer control of the frequency, intensity, and overlap, and provides pre-sets for things like focus, performance, and craving.

I sought out Jaideep Bains, Ph.D., professor of Physiology & Pharmacology at the University of Calgary. He’s a noted expert on neurophysiology and stress and a principal investigator whose research is highlighted at

His first reaction to holding the TouchPoints™? “Cool toy, but it would drive me crazy.” He acknowledges that the company has some very prestigious people on their advisory board, but objects to the characterization of the devices as being based on neuroscience. “They looked at beta waves, but beta waves happen in the cortex for a lot of reasons. They don’t necessarily have to do with stress.”

He notes that much of their research results are subjective reports. “They’re very careful in their literature to say they’re not recommending this for any disease or any medical benefit. If this were to be thought of as a medical device, what you’d need is a randomized trial. You’d need cortisol levels, you’d need autonomic outputs like heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and sweat.”

He does agree with some of the material on the company’s website, especially when it says that stress activates circuits in your brain over which you don’t have control.

As Bains and many others have observed, there’s a huge possibility of a placebo effect here. Indeed, that may be what happened to me, and to the lady in the store. We felt reduced stress because we expected to feel it.

“That woman would probably be better off just going for a walk, and breathing deeply,” says Bains, “and removing herself from the stressful situation.”

Of course, a stress-busting walk isn’t always an option. If you’d like to try TouchPoints™, they cost $159.99 US (plus shipping, duty, and taxes) from the company’s website. They do offer a 30-day free trial, though dealing with international returns might raise your stress level.

You could just wait to see if and when they make it onto the shelves at your nearest U.S. Target store

Dr. Tom Keenan is an award-winning journalist, public speaker, professor in the Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary, and author of the bestselling book, Technocreep: The Surrender of Privacy and the Capitalization of Intimacy.

This article first appeared in the Calgary Herald on April 13, 2019 by TOM KEENAN. To read the full article, click here.

Thrive Global - 5 Things You Need to Know to Survive and Thrive After a Divorce: With Amy Serin

5 Things You Need to Know to Survive and Thrive After a Divorce: With Amy Serin

As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Survive And Thrive After A Divorce Or Breakup” I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Amy Serin.

Dr. Amy Serin applies her expertise to heal a multitude of mental health problems both in and out of her integrative care clinics. In the last decade, Dr. Serin’s clinics have healed thousands of people and after consulting with militaries and international global crises responders, she set out to prevent and end post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on a global scale. This led to the breakthrough discovery that a component of PTSD treatment could actually be used outside of doctor’s offices and embedded in non-invasive wearable technology to relieve stress at any time and calm brain wave activity. She then co-founded The TouchPoint Solution in late 2015 to give access to this technology to everyone needing stress relief. Dr. Serin’s first book, The Stress Switch, will launch in February of 2019 and highlights the truth about stress, her journey, and her efforts to solve the stress epidemic. Dr. Serin lives in Arizona with her two sons and Goldendoodle, Scout.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I love people. And I love neuroscience. What I didn’t love was being a 27-year-old stressed out business developmental professional in Los Angeles with virtually no work-life balance. I realized that being frazzled and unfulfilled wasn’t the life I wanted to keep living and I yearned to create more meaningful work. I left business, completed a doctoral program, built integrative care clinics, and have been working to heal trauma and improve lives for the last 12 years.

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about “divorce”?

Being a neuropsychologist means I understand brain and behavioral relationships. Those difficult feelings people have before, during and after divorce are all modulated by brain functioning. Understanding that and integrating it into therapy with divorced adults over the last decade has helped shape my therapeutic modalities so people can truly heal from divorce and ensure their children can thrive without developing life-long problems resulting from the divorce. And I too am divorced so I know first-hand the difficulties.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In my very first training experience, I was thrown into doing therapy for older adults. I had no idea what I was doing. I told an older woman who unbeknownst to me was refusing to take responsibility for anything in her life and her primary therapy goal was to take steps towards taking action in her life rather than being passive. My advice to her when she was complaining about nothing happening in her life was to “Trust The Universe.” That was definitely not the right thing to say. I learned that therapy is not about advice from my perspective- it’s about meeting the patient where they are and helping them grow in a productive direction and that is different for everyone.

If you had a close friend come to you for advice after a divorce, what are 5 things you would advise in order to survive and thrive after the divorce? Can you please give a story or example for each?

  • Try not to relive your adolescence. Divorce wreaks havoc on your neurochemistry. It can cause PTSD, identity problems, and what one patient calls “the crazies.” It’s probably temporary- and that’s good news. But it’s important to not make decisions within the first year of divorce that will have long-term negative consequences. Want to start cross-fit and connect with old friends? Great. Designing your new tattoo while trolling Facebook and connecting with all of your married high school crushes? Not so great. It’s normal to need a neurochemical boost during and after divorce. Try to do it productively and you’ll be better off in the long run. I have a patient with piercings who contributed to breaking up a marriage with her high-school boyfriend and his wife who wishes she had taken that advice.
  • Get therapy ASAP and take care of yourself. Most people don’t realize that divorce can cause PTSD and can trigger new addictions or re-trigger old ones due to the stress and prolonged difficulty of it. I usually recommend EMDR therapy for people who even contemplating divorce. The mere thought of it means that something needs to be healed or dealt with and the more you take care of yourself emotionally during the entire process, the better off you’ll be.
  • Access your support network and build one up if you don’t have people you can count on. Events like divorce can be polarizing and you’ll learn who your true friends are. Minimize contact if you need to with people who are well meaning but judgmental or harsh. You need real support and lots of it during and after a divorce to thrive. If others don’t see your point of view or aren’t helpful- try not to dwell on it and turn towards support and kindness wherever you can. There’s a lot to be found. One of my patients was surprised that her favorite sister shunned her during the divorce and sided with her ex-husband while other family members loved her and supported her and suspended judgment. It helped for her to realize that people react to other’s life stressors in multiple ways. It’s not uncommon for others to try to pinpoint blame so they feel less vulnerable in their own lives. I once had a patient feel guilty for judging her brother for his actions in his marriage she thought led to his divorce only to realize when her marriage fell apart that she was only trying to feel secure. She was able to patch up her relationship with him and had a new sense of understanding of the complexities of divorce.
  • If you feel like you have tunnel vision and all you can see is darkness, I want you to trust that there is a light. Sometimes you just have to trust and keep moving through the process. Remember even if divorce wasn’t your choice, splitting up and healing can mean a resurgence of parts of your lost self and space to thrive like you’ve never experienced before. If you can transmute the pain and be better for it, you can thrive in the long run in ways you’ve never imagined.

What are the most common mistakes people make after they go through a divorce? What can be done to avoid that?

I see people engaging in long-term legal battles that have more to do with their anger than a real need to resolve anything productive for the benefit of themselves or the children. The most upsetting thing I see is a splitting of the children and manipulation to try to get back at the ex-partner. This usually hurts the children and the parent who is trying to split them. Kids need all the support they can get during and after a divorce.

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources related to this topic that you would recommend to our readers?

I like the book “Not Just Friends” by Jean Coppock Staeheli and Shirley Glass for people who have experienced infidelity in their marriage and who want to make sense of it or try to decide whether to work on the marriage or move on. I also like “Hold Me Tight” by Sue Johnson and The Gottman Method for helping understand and improve relationships.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that helped you in this work? Can you share how that was relevant in your real life?

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” -Rumi

The more I know myself, the more I can help break down my barriers to real love and encourage others to do the same in their relationships.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I’m working on expanding my neuroscience technology into couple’s therapy and in mediation meetings. When one or both partners are stressed out, productive conversations and real problem-solving in the relationship (or after the relationship) isn’t possible. Being able to reduce stress in real time during active therapy or discussion without shifting attention now makes it possible for people to self-regulate instead of staying in fight or flight reactive mode and I think that will go a long way in helping people prevent divorce, recover from divorce, and be reasonable as they try to work together after divorce.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

This is my dream and why I invented TouchPoints. If you lower someone’s stress response in real time they are less irritable, more rational, less fearful, better performing. Imagine that on a global scale. Imagine a world where traumatized kids whose parents are divorced can regulate themselves and don’t grow into reactive, aggressive, impulsive adults. Imagine what your life would be like if every time you felt stress and wanted to avoid something you wouldn’t be afraid and would take the risk and reach your full potential. Imagine if you could be calm instead of irrational and didn’t say those terrible things you say in the heat of the moment when stressed? Imagine if after a mass shooting or war we could use technology and prevent PTSD or treat it immediately after? I want you to imagine those things and understand that with our current neuroscience we can accomplish just that. We just need to get relief in people’s hands.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Oprah, of course. She’s brilliant. Heartfelt. She understands the human condition and wants people to thrive.




This article first appeared in Thrive Global on March 15, 201,9 by . To read the full article, click here.