Precision Psychiatry 101: Science

Alto Neuroscience
May 5, 2023

Precision Psychiatry 101 is a four-part series highlighting pillars of Alto’s approach to psychiatric drug development that matches the right patient with the right drug.

Advances in neuroscience over the past decade have enabled a better scientific understanding of the complex workings of the brain. By studying brain biomarkers, or measurable indicators of a biological state, researchers can gain insights into underlying neurological and physiological mechanisms that contribute to psychiatric conditions. This understanding is crucial for developing effective treatments and personalized approaches to mental health care.

What biomarkers are important in precision psychiatry?

Alto’s Precision Psychiatry Platform™ measures biomarkers by analyzing factors such as brain activity patterns detected via EEG readings, sleep structure and circadian rhythms captured by wearable data, and cognitive assessment scores. Analyzing a broad range of biomarkers allows Alto’s scientists to develop a comprehensive understanding of the underlying mechanisms of mental health conditions, and target these accordingly.

What is EEG signal?

EEG, or electroencephalography, is a non-invasive method of measuring brain activity. EEG works by recording electrical activity from the brain's surface using electrodes placed on the scalp that identify patterns associated with different states of consciousness, such as resting state or wakefulness, or various psychiatric disorders. This method is similar to using an electrocardiogram to detect electrical signals from the heart. 

While EEG has existed as a neurological and psychiatric diagnostic tool for nearly a century, it is now being leveraged for new scientific breakthroughs including identifying key brain measures, or biomarkers, in central nervous system (CNS) diseases.

By analyzing clinically relevant biomarkers, Alto is able to gain insights into the underlying mechanisms of these conditions and develop personalized approaches to treatment. EEG can also be used to track changes in brain activity and monitor the effectiveness of treatments over time.

How do wearables inform psychiatric diagnostic testing?

Wearable devices have the potential to transform how we monitor, manage, and treat mental health. By collecting data on a range of physiological measures, researchers can gain a more comprehensive understanding of an individual's mental health and track changes over time. 

Wearable devices, including fitness trackers and smart jewelry, capture data on sleep quality and structure, circadian rhythms, physical activity patterns, and other physiological measures that can be used to assess overall mental health and identify relevant biomarkers. Paired with EEG, behavioral task performance, and other factors, wearable data can support robust drug-response predictions and develop precision medicines in CNS. 

Can cognitive assessments scale biomarker collection?

Alto’s proprietary computerized tests provide a scalable method of evaluating measures of cognitive and emotional behavior. 

An individual's performance on cognitive assessments and behavioral tasks give objective data on their cognitive abilities, including attention, memory, and executive function, as well as insights into emotional responses and aspects of motivation. 

Computerized test results, in combination with other data sets from Alto’s Precision Psychiatry Platform™, are analyzed to identify useful brain biomarkers that can predict likely responders for each of the company’s drugs in development.

Alto Neuroscience
May 5, 2023
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June 28, 2023
Patient Advocacy

Precision Psychiatry 101: Impact

How a patient-centric, scalable precision psychiatry approach can maximize clinical impact.

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