About the TIES Lab Research Study
The TIES Lab, founded in 2018, is a psychological research lab at the FIU Center for Children and Families (CCF) in Miami, Florida. The lab researches how stressors, adversities, and traumas impact child development. To conduct the study, TIES Lab will recruit at-risk, low-income families with kids ages 6 to 9 years old. Families participating in the study will download the Colliga app on their phones to provide data on their everyday activities, family interactions, and mental health. TIES Lab will then work with Colliga to analyze the data to determine how to support kids’ mental health. Study results will be used to develop effective digital therapy tools.
How the TIES Lab Uses Technology
The TIES Lab uses technology to study and improve child and family mental health. For example, using smartphones and wearable devices, such as Fitbits and Apple Watches, researchers in the lab capture and analyze participant heart rate, sleep patterns, vocal pitch, and speech. These data can provide important insights into participants’ mental health.
“We try to understand what pushes someone to act a certain way in any given moment. Is it stress? Lack of sleep? A certain situation? Many things happen outside of the therapy room–remote health monitoring systems can help us to detect and help in real-life moments in the real world.”
One goal of the TIES Lab is to use these data to know when and how to intervene. Jacqueline Duong, a doctoral student at the FIU TIES Lab, said, “We try to understand what pushes someone to act a certain way in any given moment. Is it stress? Lack of sleep? A certain situation? Many things happen outside of the therapy room–remote health monitoring systems can help us to detect and help in real-life moments in the real world.”
Technology can help therapists monitor what is going on outside of the usual, once-a-week, 50-minute sessions. These data can inform treatment planning and help maximize treatment gains. Interventions sent through phones or wearables also help patients to manage daily or situational stressors. Natalia Simo Fiallo, the TIES Lab Project Coordinator, stated, “We hope technology reinforces what’s already happening in therapy.”
Who is Part of the TIES Lab?
The TIES Lab, headed by Dr. Adela Timmons, is supported by doctoral students Jacqueline Duong, Kayla Carta, and Sierra Walters, and Project Coordinator Natalia Simo Fiallo. The lab also includes a team of undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students interested in pursuing advanced degrees in psychology and medicine.
How Does Colliga Work with the TIES Lab?
Colliga is committed to the ethical and science-backed use of technology to improve mental health research. Colliga works with scientists and academic researchers to build new technologies and validate methods for improving mental health outcomes and increasing mental health care access.