Q&A with Yoni Donner, creator of Quantified Mind
The quantified self goes far beyond tracking your physical fitness and health, many people are now tracking their mind too.
A person’s happiness, mental wellbeing and knowledge is important to good health, so why shouldn’t we track it too?
That’s why the service Quantified Mind exists – to enable you to track the strength of cognitive mind on a daily basis.
We caught up with the founder, Yoni Donner, to see what it is all about and what the future is for the service.
What is Quantified Mind?
YD: Quantified Mind is a comprehensive online cognitive testing platform designed to allow researchers and individuals to measure variation in cognitive abilities at different times and under different conditions. It is the first platform built to assess a given individual’s abilities repeatedly over the course of time.
Why did you start Quantified Mind?
YD: I’m interested in ways to slow down and perhaps even reverse age-related cognitive decline, but I had enough of reading and hearing about blueberries, omega-3, exercise etc. without strong scientific support to any of these claims. I realized that nobody really tried to systematically investigate the effects of interventions on human cognitive abilities, using a scientifically valid method and tools.
After some initial research, I learned that cognitive testing was mostly done to compare between individuals rather than study the same person under different conditions. This meant that I needed to redesign all the tests so that they would be repeatable, efficient, and adaptive. I also wanted everything in a unified online platform to facilitate data gathering and analysis. Since what I wanted did not exist, I had to do it myself.
Have you come across any interesting findings?
YD: Yes, many! Unfortunately I can’t talk about many of them until I publish these results or post them on the Quantified Mind blog. I can briefly mention that many are related to diet (feeding times and amounts, effects of gluten and dairy, dark chocolate, butter), exercise (timing, intensity), time of day, stimulants, napping and sleep, and there are many more.
What is the feedback you have received from your users?
YD: It was extremely positive, and gave me a lot of motivation to make things better. In fact I currently hope to do this for my PhD, which will give me much more time to develop more awesome features for our users. It was very important to me to learn that people really see the need for this tool and use it regularly. I intend to do much more to make Quantified Mind more useful to people.
What can we expect next from Quantified Mind?
YD: The most exciting feature coming soon is the full “Data Minding” feature, which would allow users to analyze their own data through the site itself using strong statistical and visualization tools. Related to this is easier analysis of completed experiments and full data downloading support so people can analyze their own data any way they like.
I would still love to use Quantified Mind for the original purpose I started it: to study age-related cognitive decline and ways to stop it. This is a long and ambitious goal, but I think we finally have the right tool to test people continuously over a long time period, and start to truly understand cognitive aging and how to stop it.
Try out Quantified Mind today and keep at it to see how your mind changes over time.