By continuing your visit to this site, you accept the use of cookies. These ensure the smooth running of our services. Learn more.

Aug 21, 2006

Post-doc position in Neural Information Processing available at Ulm University (Germany)

From the Neuro-IT mailing list 

The Department of Neural Information Processing at the University of Ulm invites applications for a post-doc (or PhD student) position to begin November 1 2006, or later.

The Institute for Neural Information Processing at the University of Ulm (Germany) has two full professors, 4 postdocs and about 12 students and researchers in different areas of neural network research. Ongoing work includes mobile autonomous robots, computer vision, neural modelling, and pattern recognition.

Successful applicants will be expected to conduct research involving:

- pattern recognition or sensor fusion with artificial neural networks, or
- information processing in networks of spiking neurons, or
-large associative memory systems with possible applications in autonomous vehicles, bioinformatics, medicine, speech or vision, or modelling and recognition of emotions.

Post-doc candidates should have a recent PhD-degree for example in computer science, physics, mathematics or electrical engineering.

They will have some small teaching obligations, so some knowledge of German would be useful.

Applications for PhD-work are also possible. In this case the applicants should already have some experience in one of the fields mentioned above.

The appointment will be for at least 2 years. Salary will be BAT IIa (details depend on age and family status).

See for application details 

SWAN System to Help Blind Navigate Environment

Via Medgadget

Graduate student demos SWAN

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have designed a system (dubbed SWAN) that can guide people with or without vision through a difficult terrain. The SWAN system, consisting of a small laptop, a proprietary tracking chip, and bone-conduction headphones, provides audio cues to guide the person from place to place, with or without vision.


From the press release

“We are excited by the possibilities for people who are blind and visually impaired to use the SWAN auditory wayfinding system,” said Susan B. Green, executive director, Center for the Visually Impaired in Atlanta. “Consumer involvement is crucial in the design and evaluation of successful assistive technology, so CVI is happy to collaborate with Georgia Tech to provide volunteers who are blind and visually impaired for focus groups, interviews and evaluation of the system.”

In an unusual collaboration, Frank Dellaert, assistant professor in the Georgia Tech College of Computing and Bruce Walker, assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Psychology and College of Computing, met five years ago at new faculty orientation and discussed how their respective areas of expertise — determining location of robots and audio interfaces — were complimentary and could be married in a project to assist the blind. The project progressed slowly as the researchers worked on it as time allowed and sought funding. Early support came through a seed grant from the Graphics, Visualization and Usability (GVU) Center at Georgia Tech, and recently Walker and Dellaert received a $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to further develop SWAN.


Researchers discuss SWAN system

Dellaert’s artificial intelligence research focuses on tracking and determining the location of robots and developing applications to help robots determine where they are and where they need to go. There are similar challenges when it comes to tracking and guiding robots and people. Dellaert’s robotics research usually focuses on military applications since that is where most of the funding is available.

“SWAN is a satisfying project because we are looking at how to use technology originally developed for military use for peaceful purposes,” says Dellaert. “Currently, we can effectively localize the person outdoors with GPS data, and we have a working prototype using computer vision to see street level details not included in GPS, such as light posts and benches. The challenge is integrating all the information from all the various sensors in real time so you can accurately guide the user as they move toward their destination.”


Aug 19, 2006

Position Offered for Programmer or Postdoctoral Fellowship in Applied Neurocomputational Modeling of Learning and Memory

Re-blogged from Neurodudes

We seek to hire a full time Research Assistant/Programmer or Postdoctoral Fellow to work on computer programming projects developing and testing neurocomputational models of the brain circuits for learning and memory, especially the basal ganglia, frontal cortex, and hippocampal region.

The applicant should be prepared and capable of working on applications of these models to two projects: (1) Applying these models to understand and predict the nature of memory and cognitive dysfunction in clinical brain disorders including Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, and stroke/amnesia; (2) Applying models to a broad range of applied engineering and Artificial Intelligence applications in control and cognition, to compare them to alternative computing methods for solving problems in robotic-control and pattern recognition.

We are open to hiring either a post-BA who would work for at least two years before going on to graduate school or a postdoctoral fellow with a PhD. In either case, it is desirable that the person have (1) very strong computer programming skills, (2) prior experience with mathematical and computational neural-nework models of brain and/or behavior, preferably with exposure and experience with neural-network models, and (3) strong English-language writing and speaking skills.

We are located in Northern New Jersey, less than twenty minutes by train from midtown Manhattan. If interested, please email me a letter of interest summarizing your background, training, computer modeling skills and experience, previous publications and presentations of research, and future career goals. Also indicate your current location, citizenship, and Visa/workpermit status in the US.

Lab: http://www.gluck.edu
Memory Loss & Brain Newsletter: http://www.memorylossonline.com

Aug 18, 2006

Using TMS to enhance peripheral vision

Via Medgadget 

He drew the short straw

Christian Ruff, Jon Driver and colleagues at University College London have succesfully used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to sharpen peripheral visual perception. Results of their experiment were published in the August 8th issue of Current Biology (full text .pdf of the article is available on the Current Biology site)

From the Press Release:

In their new work, the researchers used trans-cranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to trigger a chain of activity in specific parts of the brain, while the activity was measured with a scanner. In this way, they were able to show that stimulating a particular region of the frontal cortex that is normally involved in generating eye movements can change activity in visual cortex, almost as though an eye movement had been made (even though the eye itself stayed still).

Perceptual tests confirmed that this brain stimulation had the effect of enhancing peripheral vision, as if people could now see better out of the corner of their eye.

Brain stimulation with TMS is beginning to be used in the treatment of various neurological conditions, including those, such as the after-effects of a stroke, that can impair vision. The technical breakthrough reported by the UCL group means that it is now possible to study the underlying brain activity triggered by TMS, both in the healthy brain and in patients with brain damage.



Aug 17, 2006

The Application of VR to the Treatment of PTSD Following the WTC Attack

The Application of Virtual Reality to the Treatment of PTSD Following the WTC Attack.

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2006 Jul;1071:500-1

Authors: Difede J, Cukor J, Patt I, Giosan C, Hoffman H

Recent research suggests that virtual reality (VR) enhanced exposure therapy may enhance the efficacy of treatment through increasing patient engagement in the exposure. This study evaluated the use of VR in the treatment of PTSD following the WTC attack of September 11, 2001. Individuals in a 14 session VR-enhanced treatment (n=9) were compared to a waitlist (WL) control group (n=8). ANOVA showed a significant interaction of time by group (p<.01) with a large effect size of 1.53. The VR group showed significantly greater post-treatment decline in CAPS scores compared to the WL. Our preliminary data suggests that VR is an effective tool for enhancing exposure therapy for both civilians and disaster workers who suffer from PTSD.

Using VR for Teaching Social Understanding to Autistic Adolescents

Using Virtual Environments for Teaching Social Understanding to 6 Adolescents with Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

J Autism Dev Disord. 2006 Aug 10;

Authors: Mitchell P, Parsons S, Leonard A

Six teenagers with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) experienced a Virtual Environment (VE) of a café. They also watched three sets of videos of real cafés and buses and judged where they would sit and explained why. Half of the participants received their VE experience between the first and second sets of videos, and half experienced it between the second and third. Ten naïve raters independently coded participants' judgments and reasoning. In direct relation to the timing of VE use, there were several instances of significant improvement in judgments and explanations about where to sit, both in a video of a café and a bus. The results demonstrate the potential of Virtual Reality for teaching social skills.

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy: 150-Degree Screen to Desktop PC

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy: 150-Degree Screen to Desktop PC.

Cyberpsychol Behav. 2006 Aug;9(4):480-9

Authors: Tichon J, Banks J

Virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) developed using immersive or semi-immersive virtual environments present a usability problem for practitioners. To meet practitioner requirements for lower cost and portability VRET programs must often be ported onto desktop environments such as the personal computer (PC). However, success of VRET has been shown to be linked to presence, and the environment's ability to evoke the same reactions and emotions as a real experience. It is generally accepted that high-end virtual environments (VEs) are more immersive than desktop PCs, but level of immersion does not always predict level of presence. This paper reports on the impact on presence of porting a therapeutic VR application for Schizophrenia from the initial research environment of a semi-immersive curved screen to PC. Presence in these two environments is measured both introspectively and across a number of causal factors thought to underlie the experience of presence. Results show that the VR exposure program successfully made users feel they were "present" in both platforms. While the desktop PC achieved higher scores on presence across causal factors participants reported they felt more present in the curved screen environment. While comparison of the two groups was statistically significant for the PQ but not for the IPQ, subjective reports of experiences in the environments should be considered in future research as the success of VRET relies heavily on the emotional response of patients to the therapeutic program.

Aug 08, 2006

The Travels of Mariko Horo

Re-blogged from Networked Performance 

The Travels of Mariko Horo by Tamiko Thiel: Sometime between the 12th and the 22nd centuries Mariko HMrM, Mariko the Wanderer, journeys westward from Japan in search of the Buddhist Paradise floating in the Western Seas. She does find Paradise, but finds also a chilling, darker side to the West, an island where lost souls are held in an eternal Limbo. She encapsulates her impressions of the places she visits in a series of 3D virtual worlds and invites you to see the West through her eyes.

The Travels of Mariko is an interactive 3D virtual reality installation. The image is generated in real time on a fast gaming PC and projected on a large 9 x 12 screen to produce an immersive experience. Users move their viewpoint through the virtual environment with a joystick or similar navigational input device. Mariko is a fictitious character Thiel invented to incorporate the viewpoint for the project - users will never actually see Mariko, except perhaps in a mirror. In essence they will be Mariko, seeing the exotic and mysterious Occident through her eyes and experiences.


The virtual environment is sensitive to their presence, changing around them as a result of their movements and actions: An empty church fills with saints who vanish into the heavens. A basilica transports the user directly into the Western Cosmos, where angels sing the praises of the Goddess of Compassion. A pavilion takes users deep into the underwater realm of the Heavenly King. A plain wooden chapel leads into a Limbo of constant torment.

Music for Mariko Horo is embedded in the piece itself, localized to specific places within the 3D world. The composer Ping Jin, Professor of Music at SUNY/New Paltz, studied music both in his native China and in the USA. Ping describes the music as "creating a sonic dimension for Mariko's meditation on the mythic West. Created from both sampled and computer generated sounds, there are fusions and juxtapositions of Eastern and Western sounds to enhance the scene and mood of each section."

World premiere:

July 29 - November 26, 2006: "Edge Conditions" show, part of the Pacific Rim Theme of ISEA2006 Symposium/ZeroOne San Jose Festival at the San Jose Museum of Art, USA.

The Talented Mr. Ripley

Via Thinking Meat 

Ripley is a robot designed by Deb Roy of the Cognitive Machines Group at MIT's Media Lab.

This robot was designed for learning about the environment by moving and touching objects in it. The underlying theoretical framework is the "Grounded Situation Model". In this approach, developed by Deb Roy and his colleague Nikolaos Mavridis, "the robot updates beliefs about its physical environment and body, based on a mixture of linguistic, visual and proprioceptive evidence. It can answer basic questions about the present or past and also perform actions through verbal interaction".

This story on NPR reports about the project, and includes an interview with Deb Roy.

From the MIT's Media Lab website

We have constructed a 7 degree-of-freedom robot, Ripley, to investigate connections between natural language semantics, perception, and action. Our goal is to enable Ripley to perform collaborative manipulation tasks mediated by natural spoken dialogue. Key issues include representation and learning of spatial language, object and temporal reference, and physical actions / verbs. Furthermore, a "Grounded Situation Model" representation has been designed for Ripley, as well as associated processes, and a cognitive architecture was implemented through numerous intercommunicating modules. 


Links to Ripley video clips (from the MIT Media Lab website):


Ripley imagines and remembers [high resolution (12M) | low resolution (440K)]

Ripley tracks faces [high resolution (6M) | low resolution (280K)]

Ripley imagines objects [high resolution (13.5M) | low resolution (826k)]

Ripley grasping objects [high resolution (201M) | low resolution (23M)]

Ripley changing perspectives [.mov, 17M)]

Training HMM model to pick up [.mov, 844K)]

HMM model generating pick up [.mov, 791K)]


Neural correlates of a mystical experience in Carmelite nuns

Neural correlates of a mystical experience in Carmelite nuns 
M. Beauregard, V. Paquette
Neuroscience Letters, (in press, corrected proof) 
The main goal of this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study was to identify the neural correlates of a mystical experience. The brain activity of Carmelite nuns was measured while they were subjectively in a state of union with God. This state was associated with significant loci of activation in the right medial orbitofrontal cortex, right middle temporal cortex, right inferior and superior parietal lobules, right caudate, left medial prefrontal cortex, left anterior cingulate cortex, left inferior parietal lobule, left insula, left caudate, and left brainstem. Other loci of activation were seen in the extra-striate visual cortex. These results suggest that mystical experiences are mediated by several brain regions and systems.

Aug 07, 2006

Social Impact Games

Social Impact Games is a comprehensive web repository of serious games, which are video games used for education and training purposes.
The not-for-profit SIG catalog includes over 200 serious games, listed under different categories (i.e. education, health, public policy, etc.). 
The website has several additional resources, such as links to other serious gaming initiatives, free full-text articles and reports, and design guidelines for developers.

14:43 Posted in Serious games | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: serious gaming

Aug 06, 2006


Via Textually.org 



iPointer is a location-based application developed by Intelligent Spatial Technologies, which allows delivering on-demand information about the user location and surroundings.

From the company website:

 "When users wish to identify a landmark, they point the hand-held device and press a button. The iPointer™ device receives coordinate signals from GPS satellites and orientation information from the digital magnetic compass to identify the user's location and device's pointing angle. These coordinates are then sent over the wireless network to the database. iST's geospatial database's selection algorithms identify the selected landmark and sends information back over the wireless network to be displayed in text, visuals and audio on the user's device"

Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies



The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies is an organization that fosters "the ethical use of technology to expand human capacities"

From the Institute website:

Futurists have been examining the potential impacts of emerging technologies for decades, creating scenarios that inform anticipatory democratic debate and prospective social policy-making. In the program on the Consequences and Ethics of Emerging Technologies the IEET seeks to catalog the emerging technologies we believe will extend human capacities and to create a database of their projected consequences. This database will then be the basis for proposed policies to ensure the fullest realization of human potential.


The IEET portal has interesting stuff, including full-text articles, podcasts and reports covering a range of different topics (i.e. health, life, emerging technologies).

There is also a blog (RSS

The ASSC William James Prize for Contributions to the Study of Consciousness

The Association for the Scientific Studies of Consciousness (ASSC) is a society that promotes understanding of the nature, function, and underlying mechanisms of consciousness.
The ASSC currently has two official journals:
CONSCIOUSNESS & COGNITION "provides a forum for a natural-science approach to the issues of consciousness, voluntary control, and self" 
PSYCHE "is a free electronic journal dedicated to supporting the interdisciplinary exploration of the nature of consciousness and its relation to the brain"
Each year, the ASSC awards the "ASSC William James Prize for Contributions to the Study of Consciousness" for "an outstanding published contribution to the empirical or philosophical study of consciousness by a graduate student or postdoctoral scholar/researcher within 5 years of receiving a PhD or other advanced degree"
The 2005 ASSC award was assigned to the article "Attention to Intention" by Hakwan Lau and colleagues (Science, 2004, 303, 1208-1210). The article "describes research showing that attending to the intention to initiate a movement (as contrasted with attending to the movement itself) leads to an enhancement of activity in the pre-supplementary motor area. This finding suggests that activity in the pre-SMA reflects the representation of intention and that attention to intention may be one way in which effective conscious control of action is possible" (from the ASSC prize website)

Aug 05, 2006



The project e-Circus (Education through Characters with emotional Intelligence and Role-playing Capabilities that Understand Social interaction) aims to develop synthetic characters that interact with pupils in a virtual school, to support social and emotional learning in the real classroom. This will be achieved through virtual role-play with synthetic characters that establish credible and empathic relations with the learners.

The project consortium, which is funded under the EU 6th Framework Program, includes researchers from computer science, education and psychology from the UK, Portugal, Italy and Germany. Teachers and pupils will be included in the development of the software as well as a framework for using it in the classroom context. The e-Circus software will be tested in schools in the UK and Germany in 2007, evaluating not only the acceptance of the application among teachers and pupils but also whether the approach, as an innovative part of the curriculum, actually helps to reduce bullying in schools.

Aug 04, 2006

The state of the art in Assisted Cognition

The article entitled "Assistive technology for cognitive rehabilitation: State of the art", by LoPresti et al. provides a comprehensive review of Assisted Cognition, a research field that aims to develop and assess technological tools for individuals with either acquired impairments or developmental disorders.

The full-text of this article is available here


Authors: Edmund Frank LoPresti; Alex Mihailidis; Ned Kirsch
Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, Volume 14, Numbers 1-2/March-May 2004, pp. 5-39(35)

Abstract: For close to 20 years, clinicians and researchers have been developing and assessing technological interventions for individuals with either acquired impairments or developmental disorders. This paper offers a comprehensive review of literature in that field, which we refer to collectively as assistive technology for cognition (ATC). ATC interventions address a range of functional activities requiring cognitive skills as diverse as complex attention, executive reasoning, prospective memory, self-monitoring for either the enhancement or inhibition of specific behaviours and sequential processing. ATC interventions have also been developed to address the needs of individuals with information processing impairments that may affect visual, auditory and language ability, or the understanding of social cues. The literature reviewed indicates that ATC interventions can increase the efficiency of traditional rehabilitation practices by enhancing a person's ability to engage in therapeutic tasks independently and by broadening the range of contexts in which those tasks can be exercised. More importantly, for many types of impairments, ATC interventions represent entirely new methods of treatment that can reinforce a person's residual intrinsic abilities, provide alternative means by which activities can be completed or provide extrinsic supports so that functional activities can be performed that might otherwise not be possible. Although the major focus of research in this field will continue to be the development of new ATC interventions, over the coming years it will also be critical for researchers, clinicians, and developers to examine the multi-system factors that affect usability over time, generalisability across home and community settings, and the impact of sustained, patterned technological interventions on recovery of function.

Call for papers: Pervasive Computing in Healthcare

From the IEEE Pervasive Computing Journal website 

Author guidelines: www.computer.org/pervasive/author.htm 
Submission address: http://cs-ieee.manuscriptcentral.com
WIP Deadline:  See below
Publication date: January 2007

IEEE Pervasive Computing invites articles about the use of pervasive computing technology in healthcare applications.  We welcome papers that focus on novel applications of embedded sensor and actuators as well as user interfaces for use by caregivers and/or patients. We also encourage surveys of available technologies, and reporting on user experiences. Example topics include:

  • Sensors and mobile devices for continuous patient monitoring
  • Actuators and prompters for rehabilitation and behavior modification
  • Mobile and wearable technologies for next generation drug trials
  • Intelligent prosthetics
  • Medical data-mining from health records
  • Privacy architectures for medical records
  • Applications for first responders including paramedics and emergency rooms
  • Hospital work-flow management
  • Intelligent implantable devices for applications in hearing, pain management, etc.
  • Devices to monitor dietary intake and/or caloric expenditure
  • Technologies for collaborative and/or competitive exercise support groups
  • Issues in healthcare technology standards, interoperability, security, usability, cost, etc

Submissions should be 4,000 to 6,000 words long and should follow the magazine's guidelines on style and presentation. All submissions will be peer-reviewed in accordance with normal practice for scientific publications. Submissions should be received by 5 September 2006 to receive full consideration.

In addition to full-length submissions, we also invite work-in-progress submissions of 250 words or less (submit to mmraz@computer.org) These will not be peer-reviewed but will be reviewed by the Department Editor, Anthony Joseph, and, if accepted, edited by the staff into a feature for the issue. The deadline for work-in-progress submissions is 1 November 2006.

Guest Editors:
Walter Menning, Mayo Clinic
Gaetano Borriello, University of Washington
Chandra Narayanaswami, IBM Research
Vince Stanford, NIST


Using Simulation and Virtual Reality Technology to Assess Continuing Nurse Competency

Education and Practice Collaboration: Using Simulation and Virtual Reality Technology to Assess Continuing Nurse Competency in the Long-Term Acute Care Setting.

J Nurses Staff Dev. 2006 July/August;22(4):163-169

Authors: Landry M, Oberleitner MG, Landry H, Borazjani JG

Assessment of continuing competence of staff is a challenge for many healthcare organizations. There is no clear consensus as to what constitutes continuing competence or how to measure that competence. Methods for assessing continued competence of nurses are varied. A novel method, simulation and virtual reality technology, was used to assess the competency of nurses employed in long-term acute care hospitals in Louisiana. This article will describe the project which was the result of a collaborative effort between a large healthcare organization and a school of nursing.

Tablescape Plus: Upstanding Tiny Displays on Tabletop Displays

Re-blogged from Networked Performance

Tablescape Plus: Upstanding Tiny Displays on Tabletop Displays by Yasuaki Kakehi, Makoto Iida, and Takeshi Naemura, The University of Tokyo




Placing physical objects on a tabletop display is common for intuitive tangible input. The overall goal of our project is to increase the possibility of the interactive physical objects. By utilizing the tabletop objects as projection screens as well as input equipment, we can change the appearance and role of each object easily. To achieve this goal, we propose a novel tablescape display system, "Tabletop Plus." Tabletop Plus can project separate images on the tabletop horizontal screen and on vertically placed objects simlutaneously. No special electronic devices are installed on these objects. Instead, we attached a paper marker underneath these objests for vision-based recogniton. Projected images change according to the angle, position and ID of each placed object. In addition, the displayed images are not occluded by users' hands since all equipment is installed inside the table.

Example application :: Tabletop Theater (pictured above): When you put a tiny display on a tabletop miniature park, an animated character appears and moves according to the position and direction of it. In addition, the user can change the actions of the characters by their positional relationships.

Emerging Technologies: SIGGRAPH2006

Artificial feedback for remotely supervised training of motor skills

Artificial feedback for remotely supervised training of motor skills.

J Telemed Telecare. 2006;12 Suppl 1:50-2

Authors: van Dijk H, Hermens HJ

Electromyographic (EMG) biofeedback can be used to train motor functions at a distance, which makes therapy at home a possibility. To enable patients to train properly without the presence of a therapist, artificial feedback is considered essential. We studied the combined effect of age and timing of artificial feedback on training muscle relaxation in 32 healthy subjects (younger: 20-35 years; older: 55-70 years). All subjects improved their performance significantly (F = 6.1, P<0.001). The effect of different timing of feedback (feedback provided during or after performance) was similar in young and older adults. However, this conclusion should be interpreted with caution owing to the small sample size. It can be argued that the artificial feedback used was too complicated for older adults to interpret. When designing remotely supervised treatment programmes, one should consider carefully the way that artificial feedback is being applied as it may enable (elderly) subjects to train without the presence of a therapist.

1 2 Next