ST PETERSBURG, FL--(Marketwired - Aug 8, 2017) -  TAO Connect, a digital platform aimed at making mental health therapy more accessible, efficient and effective, with the University of Florida, today announces the launch of its Mind Elevator technology helping therapy clients alter negative thinking habits, developing new neural pathways in the brain. The technology was derived from grant from a National Science Foundation, STTR grant (#1448967).

The Mind Elevator allows users to submit a thought or feeling, receive helpful feedback and begin practicing more positive ways of thinking. Once submitted, the algorithm evaluates the thought, via emoticons and color spectrums, and provides feedback and encouragement to alter each thought and make it more positive. As users continue to submit content, the program responds to the sequence of sentences through its machine learning technology, tracking the thoughts on a positive vs. negative scale and providing constant positive reinforcement. In turn, this helps users start developing new neural pathways to override previously involuntary negative thought processes.

"When most of us learned how to ride a bike, the movement was hard-wired into our brains. Negative thoughts function in the exact same way -- automatic, habitual and difficult to turn off," said Dr. Sherry Benton, founder and Chief Science Officer of TAO Connect, Inc. (TCI). "While self-taught neural pathways may continually reinforce those negative patterns, they can also be reversed. Our Mind Elevator technology retrains the brain to reinforce positive thoughts and filter out self-critical, unhelpful feelings. We've seen it help many students around the country and are optimistic about its ability to help more in the future."

On the back end, this technology was built using artificial intelligence and machine learning intelligence, configuring natural language processing and sentiment analysis, developed by University of Florida researcher, Dr. Parisa Rashidi and her team, in collaboration with Dr. Matin Heesacker, UF psychology professor, and Dr. Sherry Benton at TCI. The algorithms used to track the input were built using a large data set of two million tweets, which were then cross validated with the narrative data entered into TAO's mental health platform. Research has found the Mind Elevator is 91 percent accurate in rating sentences which continues to increase as additional users are added. 

"Mental illness is one of the largest problems present throughout college campuses, yet it tends to fly under the radar, untreated," said Dr. Martin Heesacker of the University of Florida. "While traditional therapy is effective, true change comes when students take their behavioral health into their own hands, which is exactly what the Mind Elevator is helping facilitate."

TAO currently is available to more than 1,300,000 students from 75 universities in the US, Canada, and the Caribbean. For more information about TAO and its technology, visit

About TAO Connect:
TAO Connect is a virtual platform committed to reducing mental health disparities by bringing affordable, effective, and accessible treatment to people who have had limited access in the past. The online program provides treatments for common mental health problems using a comprehensive platform of virtual tools for therapists and clients. The tools provide information about client education, interaction, accountability, and progress assessment to facilitate effective results.

Founded in 2012 by Dr. Sherry Benton, TAO facilitates a need for online counseling in educational environments, as well as rural areas around the country where mental health counseling is more difficult to acquire. The company's model utilizes a low intensity-high engagement method which provides clients with shorter, more frequent counseling sessions in replace of longer, more sporadic sessions.

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