Scientists in London have developed new AI technology inspired by video games to transform the way depression is diagnosed and monitored.

The platform, called Thymia, will remove the subjectivity from mental health assessments. Instead of answering questionnaires, patients will play specially designed video games on the platform which use neuropsychology, linguistics and machine learning.

The brainchild of neuroscientist, Dr Emilia Molimpakis, and theoretical physicist, Dr Stefano Goria, the aim of Thymia is to detect signs of depression, as well as monitor whether patients are responding to treatment.

The games include verbally describing animated scenes and memorising moving objects like bees. Whilst users complete the games, the Thymia software analyses three key data streams: voice, video and behavioural measures.

Thymia will identify data patterns indicative of depression to help pinpoint a diagnosis more quickly and accurately. It will also show if any treatments are working over time, enabling clinics to identify the right combination for a patient more effectively.

The software is currently being trialled by thousands of patients – including at UCL and King’s College London – to train the AI algorithm and finetune the user experience.

Dr Emilia Molimpakis, CEO and co-founder of Thymia, said: “Thymia is bringing psychiatry into the 21st Century, with an AI-enabled platform for accurate and continuous patient monitoring.

“It’s the first objective psychiatric assessment system, combining multiple layers of rich physiological data to assess depression and distinguish between similarly presenting disorders.

“Our technology will empower clinicians to assess and treat depression sooner, whilst allowing patients to develop a deeper understanding of their own condition.

“In time our aim is to become the gold standard of assessment for all mental health disorders and show that mental illness is as real and objectively measurable as physical illness, thereby also helping eradicate the stigma associated with it.”

This is not the first example this year of artificial intelligence becoming more prominent in the world of health and care, after Babylon and Microsoft joined forces to improve healthcare through AI earlier in 2021.