Technology Advancements in Psychiatry – Part 2 – Dr. Arshya Vahabzadeh

Posted on: February 7, 2019
Last Updated: September 5, 2020

Speaker Biography :

Dr. Arshya Vahabzadeh is a Harvard-trained physician-technologist specializing in pediatric and adult psychiatry, and family medicine. As an expert on the use of new technologies for mental health disorders, Dr. Vahabzadeh has over 20 national and international awards and recognized as a “40 under 40” healthcare innovator. He believes that a convergence of clinical neuroscience, data science, and exponential technologies, can result in transformational change for global mental health.

Author quotes

The cost of virtual reality is rapidly decreasing, so there’s an opportunity here to have technology or apps that will allow people to try this at home, to augment their current therapy.


Autonomous vehicles are going to change the structure of our cities, so how can we design our cities and environments for better mental health?



This short video clip provides an introduction to Dr. Vahabzadeh’s talk on ‘Technology Advancements in Psychiatry: From Couch to Cloud’ presented at Psych Scene Symposium for Psychiatrists, ‘Bridging the Mind-Body Gap,’ and held in Melbourne, October 2016.  You can view and read part 1 of technological advances in psychiatry here.

Dr. Vahabzadeh covers 4 topics in this video: eye movement abnormalities; virtual reality; machine learning; and the barriers to being a mental health game-changer.


He discusses eye-tracking technology with the importance of eye movements in schizophrenia and autism, and how technologies can be used to diagnose autism at a much younger age.  

Moving on to virtual reality, he reveals how augmented reality technologies are helping patients with PTSD, people with delusion paranoia, and the benefits these technologies are providing in addiction therapy.

Demonstrating the use of machine learning technology in calculating high-risk suicide groups from baseline clinical data gathered at the first onset of psychosis, he discusses how it can also be used to predict outcomes of antidepressant use. 

Deliberating on the barriers to being a mental health game-changer today, Dr. Vahabzadeh examines how the powerful combination of machine learning and genomics provides the evidence needed to assist in the development of new technologies.


Take-home Message 

  • New technologies can facilitate early diagnosis of disorders 
  • Virtual reality has an important role in psychiatric therapy 
  • Machine learning can identify genetic overlap common to different disorders


Learn more

  1. From Apps to Systems in Mental Health Assessment and Management – Dr. Arshya Vahabzadeh
  2. Frontiers of Psychiatry – Digital and Neuroscientific Approaches By Dr. Arshya Vahabzadeh
  3. Bridging the Mind-body Gap – Digital and Neuroscientific Approaches Q&A – Dr. Arshya Vahabzadeh
  4. Technological Advances in Psychiatry – From Couch to Cloud by Arshya Vahabzadeh
  5. Technology and The Converging Paths of Mental Health – Dr. Arshya Vahabzadeh
  6. The Digital Conceptualisation of Depression – Dr. Arshya Vahabzadeh


  1. Freeman D, Bradley J, Antley A, et al. Virtual reality in the treatment of persecutory delusions: randomized controlled experimental study testing how to reduce delusional conviction. Br J Psychiatry. 2016;209(1):62-67.
  2. Kessler RC, Warner LCH, Ivany LC, et al. Predicting U.S. Army suicides after hospitalizations with psychiatric diagnoses in the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS). JAMA psychiatry. 2015;72(1):49-57. 
  3. KoutsoulerisN, Kahn RS, Chekroud AM, et al. Multisite prediction of 4-week and 52-week treatment outcomes in patients with first-episode psychosis: a machine learning approach. Lancet Psychiatry. 2016;3(10):935-946.
  4. ChekroudAM, Zotti RJ, Shehzad Z, et al. Cross-trial prediction of treatment outcome in depression: a machine learning approach. Lancet Psychiatry. 2016;3(3):243-250. 

Further reading: Vahabzadeh A. Can Machine Learning Decode Depression? Psychiatric News website. Published 11 April 2016. Accessed 30 March 2018.