Working with a team of consulting and advising scientists, doctors, curators, developers, and designers, Moskowitz built Moodrise based on vetted research studies that have shown how visual or auditory stimuli can improve human behavior and well-being. (Moodrise has the support of researchers from Stanford, Columbia, Harvard, Yale, and the University of Texas.)
Moskowitz created Moodrise in reaction to the moment we’re living in, what he calls “peak content,” which he compares to “peak tobacco” in the 1950s. The average person spends 12 hours and 7 minutes consuming content per day, he noted, and it’s having a known negative impact on health and happiness. Among other alarming stats, he pointed to the rate of suicide among teenage girls—which has doubled in the past decade—and that one in five Americans is clinically depressed, not counting those who are undiagnosed. Importantly, Moodrise is not meant to replace health professionals or medications, but rather provide a new wellness option to people who experience mental health issues or simply want a non-pharmacological boost.
Upon opening the app—which has a logo and opening interface that resembles a
“Skyspace”—users are prompted to select a treatment. They’re presented with a series of seven day-glo-colored tiles, each one for a different mood states and its related neurotransmitter: Happiness (serotonin), Confidence (dopamine), Connection (oxytocin), Energy (endorphins), Calm (GABA), and Focus (acetylcholine). Tap into one and you can start a “treatment,” a slideshow of around 10 cards. Launch the first chapter for Confidence, for example, and you’ll see a strangely soothing video of a performance by musician Helado Negro of people swaying while cloaked in silver tinsel; swipe up, and you can see an article from the Journal of Psychopharmacology
about how “new or unexpected imagery can activate dopamine pathways and produce feelings of pleasure.”
The Moodrise team finds these articles, sends them to their consulting doctors and scientists to ensure they’re viable, then uses them to procure content for the app. To scale this process, they use machine-learning and AI, though real scientists will still ensure that the studies are sound.