Dec 08, 2013
Real-Time fMRI Pattern Decoding and Neurofeedback Using FRIEND: An FSL-Integrated BCI Toolbox.
PLoS One. 2013;8(12):e81658
Authors: Sato JR, Basilio R, Paiva FF, Garrido GJ, Bramati IE, Bado P, Tovar-Moll F, Zahn R, Moll J
Abstract. The demonstration that humans can learn to modulate their own brain activity based on feedback of neurophysiological signals opened up exciting opportunities for fundamental and applied neuroscience. Although EEG-based neurofeedback has been long employed both in experimental and clinical investigation, functional MRI (fMRI)-based neurofeedback emerged as a promising method, given its superior spatial resolution and ability to gauge deep cortical and subcortical brain regions. In combination with improved computational approaches, such as pattern recognition analysis (e.g., Support Vector Machines, SVM), fMRI neurofeedback and brain decoding represent key innovations in the field of neuromodulation and functional plasticity. Expansion in this field and its applications critically depend on the existence of freely available, integrated and user-friendly tools for the neuroimaging research community. Here, we introduce FRIEND, a graphic-oriented user-friendly interface package for fMRI neurofeedback and real-time multivoxel pattern decoding. The package integrates routines for image preprocessing in real-time, ROI-based feedback (single-ROI BOLD level and functional connectivity) and brain decoding-based feedback using SVM. FRIEND delivers an intuitive graphic interface with flexible processing pipelines involving optimized procedures embedding widely validated packages, such as FSL and libSVM. In addition, a user-defined visual neurofeedback module allows users to easily design and run fMRI neurofeedback experiments using ROI-based or multivariate classification approaches. FRIEND is open-source and free for non-commercial use. Processing tutorials and extensive documentation are available.
Take back your mornings with the iMirror – the interactive mirror for your home. Watch the video for a live demo!
University at Buffalo researchers are developing brain-computer interface (BCI) devices to mentally control robots.
“The technology has practical applications that we’re only beginning to explore,” said Thenkurussi “Kesh” Kesavadas, PhD, UB professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and director of UB’s Virtual Reality Laboratory. “For example, it could help paraplegic patients to control assistive devices, or it could help factory workers perform advanced manufacturing tasks.”
Most BCI research has involved expensive, invasive BCI devices that are inserted into the brain, and used mostly to help disabled people.
UB research relies on a relatively inexpensive ($750), non-invasive external device (Emotiv EPOC). It reads EEG brain activity with 14 sensors and transmits the signal wirelessly to a computer, which then sends signals to the robot to control its movements.
Kesavadas recently demonstrated the technology with Pramod Chembrammel, a doctoral student in his lab. Chembrammel trained with the instrument for a few days, then used the device to control a robotic arm.
He used the arm to insert a wood peg into a hole and rotate the peg. “It was incredible to see the robot respond to my thoughts,” Chembrammel said. “It wasn’t even that difficult to learn how to use the device.”
The video (below) shows that a simple set of instructions can be combined to execute more complex robotic actions, Kesavadas said. Such robots could be used by factory workers to perform hands-free assembly of products, or carry out tasks like drilling or welding.
The potential advantage, Kesavadas said, is that BCI-controlled devices could reduce the tedium of performing repetitious tasks and improve worker safety and productivity. The devices can also leverage the worker’s decision-making skills, such as identifying a faulty part in an automated assembly line.
Dec 02, 2013
Rehabilitation Psychology - Vol 55, Iss 3
Dezutter, Jessie; Casalin, Sara; Wachholtz, Amy; Luyckx, Koen; Hekking, Jessica; Vandewiele, Wim
Purpose: This study aimed to investigate 2 dimensions of meaning in life—Presence of Meaning (i.e., the perception of your life as significant, purposeful, and valuable) and Search for Meaning (i.e., the strength, intensity, and activity of people’s efforts to establish or increase their understanding of the meaning in their lives)—and their role for the well-being of chronically ill patients. Research design: A sample of 481 chronically ill patients (M = 50 years, SD = 7.26) completed measures on meaning in life, life satisfaction, optimism, and acceptance. We hypothesized that Presence of Meaning and Search for Meaning will have specific relations with all 3 aspects of well-being. Results: Cluster analysis was used to examine meaning in life profiles. Results supported 4 distinguishable profiles (High Presence High Search, Low Presence High Search, High Presence Low Search, and Low Presence Low Search) with specific patterns in relation to well-being and acceptance. Specifically, the 2 profiles in which meaning is present showed higher levels of well-being and acceptance, whereas the profiles in which meaning is absent are characterized by lower levels. Furthermore, the results provided some clarification on the nature of the Search for Meaning process by distinguishing between adaptive (the High Presence High Search cluster) and maladaptive (the Low Presence High Search cluster) searching for meaning in life. Conclusions: The present study provides an initial glimpse in how meaning in life may be related to the well-being of chronically ill patients and the acceptance of their condition. Clinical implications are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)
ETH-Zurich biotechnologists have constructed an implantable genetic regulatory circuit that monitors blood-fat levels. In response to excessive levels, it produces a messenger substance that signals satiety (fullness) to the body. Tests on obese mice revealed that this helps them lose weight.
Genetically modified cells implanted in the body monitor the blood-fat level. If it is too high, they produce a satiety hormone. The animal stops eating and loses weight. (Credit: Martin Fussenegger / ETH Zurich / Jackson Lab)
Nov 29, 2013
Real-time Neurofeedback Using Functional MRI Could Improve Down-Regulation of Amygdala Activity During Emotional Stimulation
Real-time Neurofeedback Using Functional MRI Could Improve Down-Regulation of Amygdala Activity During Emotional Stimulation: A Proof-of-Concept Study.
Brain Topogr. 2013 Nov 16;
Authors: Brühl AB, Scherpiet S, Sulzer J, Stämpfli P, Seifritz E, Herwig U
Abstract. The amygdala is a central target of emotion regulation. It is overactive and dysregulated in affective and anxiety disorders and amygdala activity normalizes with successful therapy of the symptoms. However, a considerable percentage of patients do not reach remission within acceptable duration of treatment. The amygdala could therefore represent a promising target for real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (rtfMRI) neurofeedback. rtfMRI neurofeedback directly improves the voluntary regulation of localized brain activity. At present, most rtfMRI neurofeedback studies have trained participants to increase activity of a target, i.e. up-regulation. However, in the case of the amygdala, down-regulation is supposedly more clinically relevant. Therefore, we developed a task that trained participants to down-regulate activity of the right amygdala while being confronted with amygdala stimulation, i.e. negative emotional faces. The activity in the functionally-defined region was used as online visual feedback in six healthy subjects instructed to minimize this signal using reality checking as emotion regulation strategy. Over a period of four training sessions, participants significantly increased down-regulation of the right amygdala compared to a passive viewing condition to control for habilitation effects. This result supports the concept of using rtfMRI neurofeedback training to control brain activity during relevant stimulation, specifically in the case of emotion, and has implications towards clinical treatment of emotional disorders.
Nov 28, 2013
Garnet Hertz's video game concept car combines a car-shaped arcade game cabinet with a real world electric vehicle to produce a video game system that actually drives. OutRun offers a unique mixed reality simulation as one physically drives through an 8-bit video game. The windshield of the system features custom software that transforms the real world into an 8-bit video game, enabling the user to have limitless gameplay opportunities while driving. Hertz has designed OutRun to de-simulate the driving component of a video game: where game simulations strive to be increasingly realistic (usually focused on graphics), this system pursues "real" driving through the game. Additionally, playing off the game-like experience one can have driving with an automobile navigation system, OutRun explores the consequences of using only a computer model of the world as a navigation tool for driving.
More info: http://conceptlab.com/outrun/
Effect of mindfulness meditation on brain-computer interface performance.
Conscious Cogn. 2013 Nov 22;23C:12-21
Authors: Tan LF, Dienes Z, Jansari A, Goh SY
Abstract. Electroencephalogram based Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) enable stroke and motor neuron disease patients to communicate and control devices. Mindfulness meditation has been claimed to enhance metacognitive regulation. The current study explores whether mindfulness meditation training can thus improve the performance of BCI users. To eliminate the possibility of expectation of improvement influencing the results, we introduced a music training condition. A norming study found that both meditation and music interventions elicited clear expectations for improvement on the BCI task, with the strength of expectation being closely matched. In the main 12week intervention study, seventy-six healthy volunteers were randomly assigned to three groups: a meditation training group; a music training group; and a no treatment control group. The mindfulness meditation training group obtained a significantly higher BCI accuracy compared to both the music training and no-treatment control groups after the intervention, indicating effects of meditation above and beyond expectancy effects.
Nov 24, 2013
Great BBC documentary (40')
Call for papers IDGEI 2014 - International Workshop on Intelligent Games for Empowerment and Inclusion
Call for papers IDGEI 2014 - International Workshop on Intelligent Games for Empowerment and Inclusion - associated with "Intelligent User Interfaces IUI 2014"
2nd International Workshop on Intelligent Digital Games for Empowerment and Inclusion.
Digital Games for Empowerment and Inclusion possess the potential to change our society in a most positive way by preparing selected groups in a playful and fun way for their everyday life’s social and special situations. Exemplary domains span as far as from children with Autism Spectrum Condition to young adults preparing for their first job interviews or migrants familiarizing with their new environment. The current generation of such games thereby increasingly demands for computational intelligence algorithms to help analyze players’ behavior and monitor their motivation and interest to adapt game progress. The development of such games usually thus requires expertise from the general gaming domain, but in particular also from a game’s target domain, besides technological savoir-faire to provide intelligent analysis and reaction solutions. IDGEI 2014 aims at bridging across these communities and disciplines by inviting respective researchers and experts to discuss their latest perspectives and findings in the field of Intelligent Digital Games for Empowerment and Inclusion.
Suggested workshop topics include, but are by no means limited to:
- Machine Intelligence in Serious Games
- Mobile and Real-World Serious Gaming
- Emotion & Affect in Serious Games
- Player Behavior and Attention Modeling
- Player-Adaptation and Motivation
- Security & Privacy Preservation
- Novel Serious Games
- User Studies & Tests of Serious Games
Paper submission deadline 4 December 2013.
Associated with International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces 2014.
For more info, download Call for Papers (PDF; 582 KB)
Nov 23, 2013
A new study shows that over one third of people feel overwhelmed by technology today and are more likely to feel less satisfied with their life as a whole.
The study, conducted by the University of Cambridge and sponsored by BT, surveyed 1,269 people including in-depth interviews with families in the UK, also found that people who felt in control of their use of communications technology were more likely to be more satisfied with life.
Read the full story
Nov 20, 2013
Call for Papers on Physiological Computing for Intelligent Adaptation: A Special Issue of Interacting with Computers
Special issue editors:
• Hugo Gamboa (Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal)
• Hugo Plácido da Silva (IT – Institute of Telecommunications, Portugal)
• Kiel Gilleade (Liverpool John Moores University, United Kingdom)
• Sergi Bermúdez i Badia (Universidade da Madeira, Portugal)
• Stephen Fairclough (Liverpool John Moores University, United Kingdom)
Deadline for Submissions:
30 June 2014
Physiological data provides a wealth of information about the behavioural state of the user. These data can provide important contextual information by allowing the system to draw inferences with respect to the affective, cognitive and physical state of a person. In a computerised system this information can be used as an input control to drive system adaptation. For example, a videogame can use psychophysiological inferences of the player’s level of mental workload during play to adjust game difficulty in real-time.
A basic physiological computer system will simply reflect changes in the physiological data in its system adaptations. More advanced systems would use their knowledge of the individual user and the context in which changes are occurring in order to “intelligently” adapt the system at the most appropriate time with the most appropriate intervention.
In this special issue we call for the submission of cutting edge research work relating to the creation, facilitation of and issues involved in intelligent adaptive physiological computing systems (PCS). The focus of this special issue is on Physiological Computing for Intelligent Adaptation, and within this the scope includes but is not limited to:
• Applications of intelligent adaptation in PCS
• Mobile and embedded systems for intelligent adaptation in PCS
• Adaptive user interfaces driven by physiological computing
• Assistive technologies mediated by physiological computing
• Pervasive technologies for physiological computing
• Affective interfaces
• Context aware interfaces
• The user experience of intelligent adaptive PCS
• Ethics of intelligent adaptation in PCS
All contributions will be rigorously peer reviewed to the usual exacting standards of IwC. Further information, including submission procedures and advice on formatting and preparing your manuscript, can be found at:http://iwc.oxfordjournals.org/
inFORM is a Dynamic Shape Display developed by MIT Tangible Media Group that can render 3D content physically, so users can interact with digital information in a tangible way.
inFORM can also interact with the physical world around it, for example moving objects on the table’s surface.
Remote participants in a video conference can be displayed physically, allowing for a strong sense of presence and the ability to interact physically at a distance.
Nov 17, 2013
A team of MIT students and alumni hava developed a new low-cost solution to get the body temperature just right: Wristify, a wrist cuff that allows individuals to maintain a comfortable body temperature independent of their environment. In essence, their thermoelectric bracelet monitors air and skin temperature and then responds with pulses of hot or cold waveforms to the wrist.
The Wristify team recently won first prize and $10,000 in MIT’s Making and Designing Materials Engineering Competition (MADMEC)—that’s after months of development and 15 prototypes.
Nov 16, 2013
Researchers at Duke University have reported in journal Science Translational Medicine that they were able to train monkeys to control two virtual limbs through a brain-computer interface (BCI). The rhesus monkeys initially used joysticks to become comfortable moving the avatar’s arms, but later the brain-computer interfaces implanted on their brains were activated to allow the monkeys to drive the avatar using only their minds. Two years ago the same team was able to train monkeys to control one arm, but the complexity of controlling two arms required the development of a new algorithm for reading and filtering the signals. Moreover, the monkey brains themselves showed great adaptation to the training with the BCI, building new neural pathways to help improve how the monkeys moved the virtual arms. As the authors of the study note in the abstract, “These findings should help in the design of more sophisticated BMIs capable of enabling bimanual motor control in human patients.”
Here’s a video of one of the avatars being controlled to tap on the white balls:
NeuroPace has received FDA pre-market approval for the NeuroPace RNS System, used to treat medically refractory partial epilepsy. The battery powered device is implanted in the cranium and monitors electrical activity in the brain. If abnormal activity is detected, electrical impulses are sent to the seizure focus in the brain via leads, helping to prevent the onset of a seizure. The RNS System also comes with a programmer for physicians to non-invasively set the detection and stimulation parameters for the implanted device, and has the ability to view the patients electrocorticogram (ECoG) in real time and upload previously recorded ECoGs stored on the RNS implant.
Results from clinical studies show significant benefits for patients, with a 37.9% reduction in seizure frequency for subjects with active implants. Follow up with patients two years post-implant showed that over half experienced a reduction in seizures of 50% or more.
Neurofeedback training aimed to improve focused attention and alertness in children with ADHD: a study of relative power of EEG rhythms using custom-made software application.
Clin EEG Neurosci. 2013 Jul;44(3):193-202
Authors: Hillard B, El-Baz AS, Sears L, Tasman A, Sokhadze EM
Abstract. Neurofeedback is a nonpharmacological treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). We propose that operant conditioning of electroencephalogram (EEG) in neurofeedback training aimed to mitigate inattention and low arousal in ADHD, will be accompanied by changes in EEG bands' relative power. Patients were 18 children diagnosed with ADHD. The neurofeedback protocol ("Focus/Alertness" by Peak Achievement Trainer) has a focused attention and alertness training mode. The neurofeedback protocol provides one for Focus and one for Alertness. This does not allow for collecting information regarding changes in specific EEG bands (delta, theta, alpha, low and high beta, and gamma) power within the 2 to 45 Hz range. Quantitative EEG analysis was completed on each of twelve 25-minute-long sessions using a custom-made MatLab application to determine the relative power of each of the aforementioned EEG bands throughout each session, and from the first session to the last session. Additional statistical analysis determined significant changes in relative power within sessions (from minute 1 to minute 25) and between sessions (from session 1 to session 12). Analysis was of relative power of theta, alpha, low and high beta, theta/alpha, theta/beta, and theta/low beta and theta/high beta ratios. Additional secondary measures of patients' post-neurofeedback outcomes were assessed, using an audiovisual selective attention test (IVA + Plus) and behavioral evaluation scores from the Aberrant Behavior Checklist. Analysis of data computed in the MatLab application, determined that theta/low beta and theta/alpha ratios decreased significantly from session 1 to session 12, and from minute 1 to minute 25 within sessions. The findings regarding EEG changes resulting from brain wave self-regulation training, along with behavioral evaluations, will help elucidate neural mechanisms of neurofeedback aimed to improve focused attention and alertness in ADHD.
Phonebloks is a modular smartphone concept created by Dutch designer Dave Hakkens to reduce electronic waste. By attaching individual third-party components (called "bloks") to a main board, a user would create a personalized smartphone. These bloks can be replaced at will if they break or the user wishes to upgrade.
Stanford Center on Longevity competition challenges students to design products to help older adults
The design contest solicits entries from student teams worldwide and is aimed at finding solutions that help keep people with cognitive impairments independent as long as possible.
The competition is currently accepting submissions in what is called Phase I of the challenge. Submitted concepts will be judged in January and finalists will be given financial help to flesh out their design and travel to Stanford to present it.
From January until April, called Phase II, finalists will also have access to mentors in different schools and centers at Stanford
The final presentations, in April, will be before a panel of academics, industry professionals, nonprofit groups and investors.
The top prize is $10,000, while the second place team will take home $5,000 and third place will get $3,000.
Nov 03, 2013
Artist Javier Pérez turns everyday objects into whimsical illustrations. Here are some of my favourites. Discover more on his Instagram account.