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Dec 23, 2005

Cyberaddiction is increasing

Psychotherapists have begun to experience the emersion of “new addictions.” These new addictions, which are directly connected to our advancing technological environment, have rooted over the past few years and patients experiencing the negative consequences are increasingly presenting for treatment in psychotherapy practices

Learn more about cyberaddiction here

Science shows streaming video presentation on this year's main breakthrough

Science mag offers a streaming video presentation on this year's main breakthrough - it's amazing, don't miss it!

Dec 22, 2005


From the website.

Touch is a research project at the Interaction Design department at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, looking at user-centred applications for Near Field Communication (NFC). NFC is a technology that enables connections between mobile phones and real-world objects:bridging the gap between the real and the virtual


Practicing medicine on robo-patients

These days, it seems that robots are very busy delivering drugs in hospitals or replacing nurses, doctors and even surgeons. But robots also can replace human patients. For example, at McMaster University in Canada, medical students are using robo-patients to practice their clinical skills before they reach human patients. Their simulator lab training center features a $100,000 computerized, human-like robot that mimics bodily functions such as breathing or heartbeat. And there are other plans at McMaster and other universities to extend this kind of training program to all kinds of medical disciplines with a whole family of robo-patients. Read more to discover other human patient simulators.

International Symposium on Intelligent Environments - Cambridge, UK

Event Date: 5 April 2006 to 7 April 2006

The Intelligent Environments group at Microsoft Research Cambridge is pleased to announce our “International Symposium on Intelligent Environments”, to be held at Homerton College, Cambridge, United Kingdom on 5-7 April 2006. The symposium will bring together top researchers from a variety of disciplines, including artists, philosophers, computer scientists, designers and sociologists, to discuss and debate how intelligent environments can contribute to improving the quality of everyday life.

Symposium Chairs
• Tom Rodden - University of Nottingham
• Richard Harper - Microsoft Research

Program Committee:
• Emile Aarts – Philips Research
• Alan Blackwell - University of Cambridge
• Alex Brandle – Microsoft Research
• Yang Cai - Carnegie Mellon University
• Luca Chittaro - University of Udine
• Gillian Crampton Smith - CONVIVIO
• Bernard Burdek - HFG Offenback
• Geraldine Fitzpatrick - University of Sussex
• David Frohlich - University of Surrey
• Matt Jones – Swansea University
• Kristina Höök - SICS Sweden
• Hani Hagras - University of Essex
• Wendy MacKay - INRIA
• Ryohei Nakatsu - Kwansei Gakuin University
• Matthias Rauterberg - University of Eindhoven
• Albrecht Schmidt - University of Munich
• Naoko Tosa - Kyoto University
• Ken Wood - Microsoft Research

We define ‘Intelligent Environments’ as those that seamlessly incorporate the thoughtful and insightful use of computer technology to improve and enrich everyday life. We want to promote discussions that take a completely fresh view of the interaction between society and technology; rethinking how computer technology should be used in the future to maximise the benefits to individuals and society. We look forward to receiving insightful views on the significant research opportunities and challenges that we face, the effects on society and the way we live our lives, the possibilities, the limitations, what we have achieved so far and what challenges we have failed to address. The format of the event will include refereed papers, posters, demonstrations, workshops and panel discussions.

Keynotes speaker include:
Don Norman, François Pachet, Naoko Tosa

Call for Papers
We invite papers to examine and challenge the relationship between humans, society and technology in our changing world. We are especially interested in inspiring papers in the following areas:

-Computer-augmented living
-Designing intelligent devices for everyday life
-Improving social intelligence and supporting human habits
-Modeling and managing intelligent environments

Papers must be written in English and consist of no more than 10 pages, including references, appendices, and figures. Papers must include title, author names, affiliations, contact details, abstract, a list of keywords, body, and references. Papers can be submitted online via https://msrcmt.research.microsoft.com/ISIE/.

If you have any questions relating to the submission of papers please mail msriepi@microsoft.com. For all accepted papers at least one author must attend the conference and present the ideas contained in the paper.

The event will be held at Homerton College in Cambridge, UK.

Papers, Posters, Demos submission deadline: 13th January 2006

Marco Combetto
Research Program Manager
External Research Office Microsoft Research Cambridge (UK)
E-mail: marcomb@microsoft.com
Web: http://research.microsoft.com/users/marcomb
Fax:+44 (0)1223 479 9999

Virtual reality as an adjunctive pain control during transurethral microwave thermotherapy

Urology. 2005 Dec;66(6):1320

Authors: Wright JL, Hoffman HG, Sweet RM

The management of pain during clinic transurethral microwave thermotherapy (TUMT) can be challenging. Pain can lead to increased pelvic blood flow, which dissipates the energy delivered, limiting the amount of heat delivered to the prostate. In this report, we describe the novel use of virtual reality distraction as an adjunctive mechanism for local anesthesia during TUMT in a 67-year-old man. This report is novel in being, to our knowledge, the first to demonstrate the efficacy of virtual reality in an elderly patient and the first documented use for a urologic clinic procedure. We believe it is also the first to demonstrate efficacy for the control of thermally induced pain.

Modulation of beta oscillations in the subthalamic area during motor imagery in Parkinson's disease

Brain. 2005 Dec 19;

Authors: Kühn AA, Doyle L, Pogosyan A, Yarrow K, Kupsch A, Schneider GH, Hariz MI, Trottenberg T, Brown P

Activation of the basal ganglia has been shown during the preparation and execution of movement. However, the extent to which the activation during movement is related to efferent processes or feedback-related motor control remains unclear. We used motor imagery (MI), which eliminates peripheral feedback, to further investigate the role of the subthalamic area in the feedforward organization of movement. We recorded local field potential (LPF) activity from the region of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) in eight patients with Parkinson's disease off dopaminergic medication during performance of a warned reaction time task. Patients were instructed to either extend the wrist [motor execution (ME)], to imagine performing the same task without any overt movement (MI), or, in a subgroup, to perform a non-motor visual imagery (VI) task. MI led to event-related desynchronization (ERD) of oscillatory beta activity in the region of the STN in all patients that was similar in frequency, time course and degree to the ERD occurring during ME. The degree of ERD during MI correlated with the ERD in trials of ME and, like ME, was accompanied by a decrease in cortico-STN coherence, so that STN LFP activity during MI was similar to that in ME. The ERD in ME and MI were both significantly larger than the ERD in VI. In contrast, event-related synchronization (ERS) was significantly smaller in trials of MI, and even smaller in trials of VI, than during ME. The data suggest that the activity in the region of the human STN indexed by the ERD during movement is related to the feedforward organization of movement and is relatively independent of peripheral feedback. In contrast, sensorimotor feedback is an important factor in the ERS occurring in the STN area after completion of movement, consistent with a role for this region in trial-to-trial motor learning or the re-establishment of postural set following movements.

Ambx full-reality system

Via Pasta and Vinegar


amBX is a Philips project for a system that should provide gamers with a full ‘sensory surround experience’ allowing them to use light, colour, sound, heat and even airflow in the real world during gameplay.

A light year leap in ambient experience – to the world of computer gaming, spotlighting a technology that will revolutionize the game play experience and extend the gaming world out of the screen and into the real world.

Due for release in May 2006 and coming from the Surrey-based Philips amBX Group, amBX is a step towards a full ‘sensory surround experience’ and enabled games will provide gamers with the ability to use light, colour, sound, heat and even airflow in the real world during gameplay.

Imagine the room of the future, where all electronic devices are amBX-enabled. The treacherous road to Saigon will turn your room jungle green, swimming with dolphins will splash it deep blue, ‘Halo’ jumps will turn your fans on full, lightning storms will strobe your white lighting, and attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion will blast on your heaters.

PhD Studentship in Computational Neuroscience and Interactive Intelligent Systems

The University of Plymouth invites applications for a PhD Studentship (stipend to cover living expenses plus UK/EU fees) in the areas of Computational Neuroscience and/or Interactive Intelligent Systems. There are about twelve academic staff in the two Centres, and their work was awarded a rating of 5 (International Excellence) in the 2001 UK Research Assessment Exercise.

The primary areas of interest and expertise within the CTCN and CIIS include:

- Audition

- Biophysics and modelling of temporal brain dynamics

- Mathematical neuroscience

- Neural computation

- Sensorimotor control

- Vision

- Artificial life models of cognition

- Interactive robotics

- Information visualisation

- Computer music

- Semantic web

Applicants should have, or expect to obtain, a high grade Bachelors or Masters degree in computing, neuroscience, psychology/cognitive science, physics, mathematics or an allied discipline. The candidate should ideally possess good computational skills and must have a strong motivation for research.

For more information on the activity of the CTCN and CIIS, visit:



For informal enquiries contact Professor Mike Denham (m.denham@plymouth.ac.uk) or Dr. Angelo Cangelosi (a.cangelosi@plymouth.ac.uk). Applications should be sent via email to Mrs. Carole Watson (c.watson@plymouth.ac.uk; tel. +44 1752 233329), Senior Research Administrator, Faculty of Technology, University of Plymouth. Closing deadline for applications is March 20th, 2006. PhD will start in October 2006. Each application should include (1) detailed CV and (2) cover letter and (3) application form. The PhD application form can be downloaded here:


Dec 19, 2005

The self in action: Lessons from delusions of control

Conscious Cogn. 2005 Dec;14(4):752-70
Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, Institute of Neurology, University College London, UK.

Patients with delusions of control are abnormally aware of the sensory consequences of their actions and have difficulty with on-line corrections of movement. As a result they do not feel in control of their movements. At the same time they are strongly aware of the action being intentional. This leads them to believe that their actions are being controlled by an external agent. In contrast, the normal mark of the self in action is that we have very little experience of it. Most of the time we are not aware of the sensory consequences of our actions or of the various subtle corrections that we make during the course of goal-directed actions. We know that we are agents and that we are successfully causing the world to change. But as actors we move through the world like shadows glimpsed only occasional from the corner of an eye.

CHI 2006 Workshop: Designing for Collective Remembering - Montreal, Canada

Via Usability News 

Venue: Montreal, Canada

Dates: 23 April 2006

We invite position papers for the CHI 2006 Workshop entitled “Designing for Collective Remembering”. While much research has focused on capturing and sharing personal memories, less work has addresses collective memories and their remembrance. When memories relate to significant events impacting on an entire group or community and are shared amongst that group, they become collective. Such memories are usually rich, emotionally charged, better recalled by groups and can enhance the group’s sense of identity.

This one-day workshop will offer an interdisciplinary forum of discussion for practitioners interested in designing technology for collective remembering and academic researchers in fields such as design, HCI, computer science, sociology, anthropology and information science. The workshop will facilitate discussions aimed at the development of a set of guidelines for designing systems for collective remembering. This includes designing for the experience of sharing one’s own memories, and for the experience of enjoying others’ memories.

Submissions in the form of four page position papers describing case studies of fully developed or prototype systems for collective remembering should be sent by December 18 to Corina Sas at c.sas AT lancaster.ac.uk. Theoretical approaches to design challenges for collective memories are also welcomed. Participants will be selected on the basis of the originality of their position paper and contribution to the workshop goals. The workshop will be organised as brief individual presentations, problem-based group learning activities, group presentation and full-group discussion of results.


Paper submissions December 18 2005
Notification of acceptance January 31 2006
Workshop April 23 2006

Dec 17, 2005

Mental imagery combined with physical practice of approach shots for golf beginners

Percept Mot Skills. 2005 Aug;101(1):203-11

Authors: Brouziyne M, Molinaro C

Recent research on motor skills of golf have pointed to the usefulness of mental imagery. In golf, such training is rarely used as a teaching technique for beginners on the grounds that only top professionals stand to gain from mental imagery. This study tested whether mental imagery combined with physical practice can improve golf performance for the approach shot. 23 volunteer beginners, 8 women and 15 men, M age 23.4 yr. (SD = 3.7), enrolled in the University Physical and Sporting Activities Department, were divided into three groups, using a combination of physical practice of the approach shot plus mental imagery, physical practice only, and a third group engaging in various sporting activities instead of either mental or physical practice of the chip shot. Analysis showed that the beginners' approach shot performance improved most in the group combining physical practice and mental imagery when compared with the group just physically practising the approach shot. It seems mental training can be used effectively to improve performance even with beginners.

Dec 15, 2005

The Use of Virtual Reality and Audiovisual Eyeglass Systems as Adjunct Analgesic Techniques: A Review of the Literature

Ann Behav Med. 2005;30(3):268-278

Authors: Wismeijer AA, Vingerhoets AJ

Background: This review focuses on the application of technologically advanced methods of audiovisual distraction as adjunct analgesic techniques; more specifically, (a) virtual reality (VR) and (b) audiovisual (A/V) eyeglass systems (A/V distraction). Purpose: It is assumed that distraction taxes the patient's limited attention capacity, resulting in the withdrawal of attention from the noxious stimulus with a subsequent reduction in pain. Methods: Twenty studies evaluating the analgesic potential of both methods in different patient groups and in healthy volunteers were identified in the scientific literature. Results: Although the majority of these studies are hampered by serious methodological drawbacks, particularly a small number of participants, the results nevertheless strongly suggest that both VR and A/V distraction can be a very promising analgesic technique that may be used safely and effectively for the reduction of pain and discomfort during medical procedures. An additional important aspect is that few negative side effects have been reported. Conclusions: Directions for future research are presented.

Improvement and generalization of arm motor performance through motor imagery practice

Neuroscience. 2005 Dec 7;

Authors: Gentili R, Papaxanthis C, Pozzo T

This study compares the improvement and generalization of arm motor performance after physical or mental training in a motor task requiring a speed-accuracy tradeoff. During the pre- and post-training sessions, 40 subjects pointed with their right arm as accurately and as fast as possible toward targets placed in the frontal plane. Arm movements were performed in two different workspaces called right and left paths. During the training sessions, which included only the right path, subjects were divided into four training groups (n=10): (i) the physical group, subjects overtly performed the task; (ii) the mental group, subjects imagined themselves performing the task; (iii) the active control group, subjects performed eye movements through the targets, (iv) the passive control group, subjects did not receive any specific training. We recorded movement duration, peak acceleration and electromyographic signals from arm muscles. Our findings showed that after both physical and mental training on the right path (training path), hand movement duration and peak acceleration respectively decreased and increased for this path. However, motor performance improvement was greater after physical compared with mental practice. Interestingly, we also observed a partial learning generalization, namely an enhancement of motor performance for the left path (non-training path). The amount of this generalization was roughly similar for the physical and mental groups. Furthermore, while arm muscle activity progressively increased during the training period for the physical group, the activity of the same muscles for the mental group was unchanged and comparable with that of the rest condition. Control groups did not exhibit any improvement. These findings put forward the idea that mental training facilitates motor learning and allows its partial transfer to nearby workspaces. They further suggest that motor prediction, a common process during both actual and imagined movements, is a fundamental operation for both sensorimotor control and learning.

Combined use of fMRI and VR to teach pain control

A paper published on Proceedings of National Academy of Science describes results of an experiment, in which virtual reality is used in combination with fMRI to teach subjects to control pain perception. A display inside the fMRImachine depicted a flame whose intensity reflected the activity of participants rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC), a brain region that is known to be involved in pain perception. Results showed that the better participants controlled their rACC activity, the better they controlled their pain. By contrast, participants included in a control group without fMRI feedback, failed to control their pain.

Read the full article in PDF format

Dec 13, 2005

The Use of Virtual Reality and Audiovisual Eyeglass Systems as Adjunct Analgesic Techniques: A Review of the Literature.

Ann Behav Med. 2005;30(3):268-278

Authors: Wismeijer AA, Vingerhoets AJ

Background: This review focuses on the application of technologically advanced methods of audiovisual distraction as adjunct analgesic techniques; more specifically, (a) virtual reality (VR) and (b) audiovisual (A/V) eyeglass systems (A/V distraction). Purpose: It is assumed that distraction taxes the patient's limited attention capacity, resulting in the withdrawal of attention from the noxious stimulus with a subsequent reduction in pain. Methods: Twenty studies evaluating the analgesic potential of both methods in different patient groups and in healthy volunteers were identified in the scientific literature. Results: Although the majority of these studies are hampered by serious methodological drawbacks, particularly a small number of participants, the results nevertheless strongly suggest that both VR and A/V distraction can be a very promising analgesic technique that may be used safely and effectively for the reduction of pain and discomfort during medical procedures. An additional important aspect is that few negative side effects have been reported. Conclusions: Directions for future research are presented.

PhD position at CRAFT

Via Pasta and Vinegar

CRAFT - School of Computer and Communication Sciences is looking for a PhD student. Here is the announcement:

Group mirrors provide users with a reflection of their collaborative processes. The noise sensitive table is an example of interactive furniture based on the concept of group mirror (http://craftsrv1.epfl.ch/research/interactivetable/). Its matrix of LED, embedded in the physical table, provides users with a representation of their social interactions. The table namely reflects turn-taking patterns when students work collaboratively. The peripheral perception of this feedback allows them reflecting on the group verbal interaction or on individual contributions and, finally, deepening learning and regulating their collaboration. The first prototype of the noise sensitive table showed the interest of the concept. Continuing this project now requires improving the software detecting speech configuration and develop adequate visual grammars for the feed-back. This project overlaps the domains of roomware and computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL).

A PhD position, for 3 years is offered. The gross salary is approx. 3600 Swiss Francs per month. The PhD candidate will participate into a doctoral program at EPFL (12 credits).

The candidate will join the EPFL doctoral program in computer science. He must have a strong background in computers science and interest for research in collaborative activity, roomware or human-computer interaction. Knowledge in signal processing would also be appreciated. Working language is English.

This project in funded by an internal source for three years.

Spring 06 (as soon as possible)

Dec 12, 2005

1st International Workshop on Physicality - Lancaster, UK

Via Usability News

Deadline: 10 January 2006
Source: UN, 7 December 2005

The 1st International Workshop on Physicality will take place in Lancaster on 6-7 February 2006.

This multidisciplinary workshop will bring together researchers who are interested in the way that physicality of digital artefacts influences their use, or in the way that digitality informs our understanding of the physical. Through invited talks, short research presentations, and group discussion we will discuss views on the fundamental nature of physicality and how this relates to design in areas such as ubiquitous and tangible computing, virtual reality and digital arts.

submission deadline for position papers: 10th January 2006.

Virtually Driving: Are the Driving Environments "Real Enough" for Exposure Therapy with Accident Victims? An Explorative Study

Cyberpsychol Behav. 2005 Dec;8(6):532-537

Authors: Walshe D, Lewis E, O'sullivan K, Kim SI

There is a small but growing body of research supporting the effectiveness of computergenerated environments in exposure therapy for driving phobia. However, research also suggests that difficulties can readily arise whereby patients do not immerse in simulated driving scenes. The simulated driving environments are not "real enough" to undertake exposure therapy. This sets a limitation to the use of virtual reality (VR) exposure therapy as a treatment modality for driving phobia. The aim of this study was to investigate if a clinically acceptable immersion/presence rate of >80% could be achieved for driving phobia subjects in computer generated environments by modifying external factors in the driving environment. Eleven patients referred from the Accident and Emergency Department of a general hospital or from their General Practitioner following a motor vehicle accident, who met DSM-IV criteria for Specific Phobia-driving were exposed to a computer-generated driving environment using computer driving games (London Racer/Midtown Madness). In an attempt to make the driving environments "real enough," external factors were modified by (a) projection of images onto a large screen, (b) viewing the scene through a windscreen, (c) using car seats for both driver and passenger, and (d) increasing vibration sense through use of more powerful subwoofers. Patients undertook a trial session involving driving through computer environments with graded risk of an accident. "Immersion/presence" was operationally defined as a subjective rating by the subject that the environment "feels real," together with an increase in subjective units of distress (SUD) ratings of >3 and/or an increase of heart rate of >15 beats per minute (BPM). Ten of 11 (91%) of the driving phobic subjects met the criteria for immersion/presence in the driving environment enabling progression to VR exposure therapy. These provisional findings suggest that the paradigm adopted in this study might be an effective and relatively inexpensive means of developing driving environments "real enough," to make VR exposure therapy a viable treatment modality for driving phobia following a motor vehicle accident (MVA).

Dec 09, 2005

PhD student position: Contextual and situational cues for situated social awareness


Applications are invited for the following PhD student position at the Human-Technology Interaction group, Dept of Technology Management of the Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands.

PhD student (full-time, 4 years) "Contextual and situational cues for situated social awareness in mediated social interaction"

Project description:

As social presence, communication efficacy and situated group awareness depend heavily on the availability of communication history, contextual information and social-emotional cues, communication can be enriched by making available such implicit communication data. To date, this kind of information has not been made explicitly available in social interaction.

Mixed reality technology and future mobile technologies and services map uniquely onto this problem space. Meaningful contextual and situational communication cues can be indexed and instantly be fed back into the communication process. The unique synergy of media technology and social and environmental psychology in the the present project will enhance our understanding of human communication, providing excellent opportunities for improving existing and future communication technologies as well as the task-related and socio-emotional outcomes of mediated communication.

In the project, the PhD student will work to identify the salience of contextual and situational information in mediated and media-assisted communication and to test the effects of making such information explicitly available to communicating parties, both at the individual and group level. After developing a coherent theoretical framework regarding the fundamental role of contextual information in social interaction, he/she will create laboratory tools for basic research into the effects of contextual cues and perform basic research into patterns of mediated and non-mediated communication within social groups, and how to translate these into meaningful synthesized and integrated indicators to enhance and enrich situated group awareness and social interaction.

The PhD student will contribute to project deliverables, and is expected to publish at conferences and in scientific journals. After 4 years a thesis must be written and a PhD degree should be obtained.

This PhD project is part of the European Union IST-FET Integrated Project 'PASION' - Psychologically Augmented Social Interaction Over Networks.


Given the multi-disciplinary character of this project, we are looking for an individual with multiple talents and skills. The candidate should hold a recent MSc in a technical domain (e.g., Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, Human-Technology Interaction) and have demonstrable expertise and interest in social sciences and psychological research methodology. Or the candidate should hold a MSc/MA in psychology or communication research, with demonstrable expertise in (mobile) communication technology. Computer programming skills, experience in conducting experimental or survey research, as well as skills in statistics and methodology are highly desirable.

The successful candidate is able to demonstrate a strong interest in multi-disciplinary research, is creative, has excellent verbal as well as written communication skills, and works well in teams.

We offer:

* a full-time temporary appointment for a period of 4 years, with a start per February/March 2006;
* a gross monthly salary of EURO 1,877 during the first year up to EURO 2,407 during the fourth year of the appointment;

* a PhD program consisting of a number of mandatory courses, research seminars and specialized courses;
* a broad package of fringe benefits (a.o. an excellent technical infrastructure, child care, savings schemes, and excellent sports facilities);

* the university covers the costs of publishing your dissertation.

As part of an equal opportunity scheme, women are explicitly requested to apply. Attaining a PhD at the Technische Universiteit Eindhoven provides you with excellent career opportunities.


Further information about this position is available from dr.ir. Y.A.W de Kort, e-mail: y.a.w.d.kort@tue.nl, or dr. W.A. IJsselsteijn, e-mail: w.a.ijsselsteijn@tue.nl.


Interested candidates are requested to send a written application with a recent Curriculum Vitae to the managing director of the Department of Technology Management, ir. M.J.M. Verbruggen, Pav R.1.32, PO Box 513, 5600 MB Eindhoven, the Netherlands (fax number: ძ.40.2475712), or send an e- mail to: pz@tm.tue.nl . Please include the job vacancy code: V39.392

Applications should be received by 6 January 2006.

Further information: Mrs. P.J. Evers, personnel officer, phone ძ.40.2475204, e-mail: mailto:pz@tm.tue.nl

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