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Daily Beast. AI is unlocking the medical potential of music, says LUCID

Science tells us that music can make listeners feel, lighting up the areas of the brain that process emotion. But can music have an even bigger impact on the brain? Impressively so. Anxiety, migraines, burnout, and even depression are now being considered treatable with music.

Canadian tech startup LUCID is using music and AI (the two things we love most) to manage all of these conditions.

CEO and co-founder Zach McMahon shared more about their unique findings in an interview with The Daily Beast.

In March, the company released the results of its first controlled clinical trial. The experiment pulled together more than 160 participants with self-reported anxiety, split up by the researchers into four groups.

One group listened to a playlist of music and binaural beats—an auditory illusion that occurs when you play different tones in each ear—curated by LUCID’s AI; two groups listened either to just music or just beats; the last group listened to pink noise.

By the end, the team discovered that the group that had listened to the AI-powered playlist of music and beats had a significant reduction in their anxiety.

As most of us have uncomfortably experienced at some time in our lives, taste in music is subjective. So how does LUCID make sure to meet the needs of all of their listeners?

The songs and beats compiled by LUCID’s AI are unique to each listener, providing an entirely personalized experience based on their needs and mood at the time of listening.

In fact, the music must be personalized to the individual patient in order to get the best results. The songs that someone born in the ’50s enjoys are likely very different from someone born in the ’90s.

LUCID’s ambitions do not end there. Right now, through the use of AI, they are developing a product to help patients who have dementia– using their work on anxiety as a starting point.

LUCID is now working to develop and refine its product for people with dementia, with a planned digital therapeutic dubbed LUC-101 by 2023. That’s a much more ambitious goal than treating otherwise healthy adults suffering from anxiety.

Diseases like Alzheimer’s rob a person of what makes them a person: their mind. Those differences are the biggest hurdles for companies like LUCID that want to develop a digital treatment for neurodegenerative issues.

“I think the things that cause us to feel anxiety and those with dementia to feel anxiety are not so different,” Frank Russo, chief scientific officer of LUCID and co-author of the paper, told The Daily Beast.

“It’s things like uncertainty about the future, or what’s in front of you right now that are the triggers of anxiety. It’s a future-looking stress. If you’re disoriented, or things change in your environment, or you’re not so sure about what you're doing, these are anxiety-provoking events. It’s tapping into the same biological hardware that we’ve all evolved to keep us safe and thriving.”

AI has the capacity to process data faster than any one person or even a skilled team of coders. As a result, using AI allows tech companies like LUCID to personalize their products– meeting the unique needs of thousands of users.

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