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Dec 30, 2006

Evolved Virtual Creatures

Via Suicide Bots

From the Evolved Virtual Creatures website

This video shows results from a research project involving simulated Darwinian evolutions of virtual block creatures. A population of several hundred creatures is created within a supercomputer, and each creature is tested for their ability to perform a given task, such the ability to swim in a simulated water environment. Those that are most successful survive, and their virtual genes containing coded instructions for their growth, are copied, combined, and mutated to make offspring for a new population. The new creatures are again tested, and some may be improvements on their parents. As this cycle of variation and selection continues, creatures with more and more successful behaviors can emerge.

The creatures shown are results from many independent simulations in which they were selected for swimming, walking, jumping, following, and competing for control of a green cube.

Download movie from the Internet Archive


Mind and brain artwork

via mind hacks

have a look at this wonderful collection of mind and brain artwork, collected by the author of the Italian website PsicoCafé

Link to PsicoCafé image gallery.
Link to PsicoCafé (Italian)

12:55 Posted in Cyberart | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: cyberart

Dec 29, 2006


Today the International Association of Virtual Reality Technologies has announced the creation of NeuroNet, defined as “a first generation network created specifically for the transmission of real-time, virtual reality (VR) and gaming data"

From the press release:

The network, called the Neuronet, will evolve into the world's first public network capable of meeting the data transmission requirements of emerging cinematic and immersive VR technologies. The Neuronet will be separate and distinct from the Internet and will be used for everything from gaming to entertainment to 'v-business', or virtual business.

The massive overcapacity of fiber optic cable left over from the dot-com era makes the new network feasible with minimal investment. Much of the infrastructure and programming utilized to facilitate the Neuronet will be outsourced to telecommunications and virtual reality innovators, but a private sector monopoly on the Neuronet itself will not serve the greater good of the global community. Competing networks have the potential to destabilize evolving virtual worlds and potentially compromise consumer safety. To that end, IAVRT was formed as an international not-for-profit organization that will, through its members, govern the Neuronet, foster its growth and guard its integrity. 

Sounds cool... I'll keep an eye on it

Cell Phone-Linked Breathalyzer

Via Textually.org  [Tokyomango]


A breathalyer from Japan.

Networks as Metaphors and Models

Via Networked Performance 


Networks have become a powerful metaphor for explaining the social realities of our times. A network, defined minimally, is a system of interconnected elements or nodes, where each node represents an intersection of flows within the network. Everywhere we look there are attempts to explain all kinds of social formations in terms of networks: citizen networks, corporate networks, gamer networks, terrorist networks, learning networks, networks of production, networks of distribution... and so on. The metaphor of the network can be superimposed over just about any form of multiplicity, including non-social ones (for instance, cells in the brain can be described in terms of a network). For the purposes of this study, however, every reference to networks, unless otherwise specified, is meant to allude to technosocial assemblages in which ICT's facilitate social relations between humans unconstrained by the physical distance between them. If Cognitive Science attempted to explain individual consciousness by adopting the metaphor of the brain as a computer, with its inputs and outputs, Social Science is extending the metaphor a step further by attempting to explain the social in terms of networks-or, in this context, sets of interconnected computers/brains."


Continue reading Networked Proximity - Section 1 by Ulises Ali Mejias. Also see Networked Proximity - Introduction.

21:40 Posted in Social Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: social networks

Dec 28, 2006

Tokyo Ubiquitous Network Project

Via 3DPoint 

RFID tags coming to Tokyo's Ginza district

The Tokyo Ubiquitous Network Project seeks to outfit Tokyo’s high-end shopping district, the Ginza, with 10,000 RFID tags and other digital beacons. The project, led by Ken Sakamura, a professor at the University of Tokyo, will bring location-based information to people carrying prototype readers developed for the trial.

From the PC Advisor article:

“Bringing the terminal close to an RFID tag on a street lamp will pinpoint the user’s location and the system will be able to guide them to the nearest railway station, while walking past a radio beacon in front of a shop might bring up details of current special offers or a menu for a restaurant.”

Games and Culture special issue: Gaming in the Asia-Pacific

From G&C website 

Games and Culture: A Journal of Interactive Media Special issue: Gaming in the Asia-Pacific

 As a region, the Asia-Pacific is marked by diverse penetration rates of gaming, mobile and broadband technologies, subject to local cultural and socio-economic nuances. Two defining locations – Seoul (South Korea) and Tokyo (Japan) – are seen as both “mobile centres” and “gaming centres” to which the world looks towards as examples of the future-in-the-present. Unlike Japan, which pioneered the keitai (mobile) IT revolution and mobile consoles such as playstation2, South Korea – the most broadbanded country in the world – has become a centre for MMOs (online massively multiplayer) games and convergent mobile DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadband i.e. TU mobile).

Adorned with over 20,000 PC bangs (PC rooms) in Seoul alone and with professional players (Pro-leagues) making over a million US per year, locations such as South Korea have been lauded as an example of gaming as a mainstream social activity. In a period marked by convergent technologies, South Korea and Japan represent two opposing directions for gaming – Korea emphasizes online MMOs games played on stationary PCs in public spaces (PC bangs) whilst Japan pioneers the mobile (privatized) convergent devices. These two distinct examples, with histories embroiled in conflict and imperialism, clearly demonstrate the importance of locality in the uptake of specific games and game play.

This issue seeks to explore the politics of game play and cultural context by focusing on the burgeoning Asia-Pacific region. Housing sites for global gaming production and consumption such as China, Japan and South Korea, the region provides a wealth of divergent examples of the role of gaming as a socio-cultural phenomenon. Drawing from micro ethnographic studies to macro political economy analysis of techno-nationalisms and trans-cultural flows of cultural capital, this issue will provide an interdisciplinary model for thinking through the politics of gaming production, representation and consumption in the region.

Topics of papers will discuss the region in terms of one of the following areas:

- Case study analysis of specific games and game play

- Is there such thing as a culturally specific aesthetic to the production and consumption of certain games?

- What is the “future” of gaming?

- Emerging and re-occurring productions of techno-nationalism in the region

- New media and experimental gaming in the region

- Convergent technologies and the impact on established modes of game play

- Gendered consumption and production of games

- Government regulations and types of game play

- Pervasive gaming and the role of co-presence

Deadline for this special issue of Games and Culture: 15th March 2007. Authors should submit all inquiries, expressions of interest and papers to Larissa Hjorth (RMIT University) larissa.hjorth [AT] rmit.edu.au.

Games and Culture: A Journal of Interactive Media invites academics, designers and developers, and researchers interested in the growing field of game studies to submit articles, reviews, or special issues proposals to the editor. Games and Culture is an interdisciplinary publication, and therefore it welcomes submissions by those working in fields such as Communication, Anthropology, Computer Science, English, Sociology, Media Studies, Cinema/Television Studies, Education, Art History, and Visual Arts.

All submissions are peer reviewed by two or more members of the distinguished, multi-disciplinary editorial board. Games and Culture aims to have all papers go through their initial review within three months of receipt. Manuscripts should be submitted with four paper copies and electronically in Word or Word Perfect format and conform to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (Fifth Edition)0,000 words in length. Papers that do not conform to these guidelines will be returned to the author(s).


Via the Neuronerd 

Diigo is a social annotation service that turns the web writable allowing users to privately or publicly annotate any website they visit, thereby making a “participatory and interactive media” for its users. When you highlight a word on any page a drop down menu automatically appears (see image below) that lets you:

  • search for the highlighted words on the web with any of four search engines
  • search for highlighted terms in four social bookmarking systems
  • do a blog search for highlighted terms
  • search for your terms in the entire site you are on (Google, Yahoo, Ask site: search)
  • search for inbound links to the URL you are on in four different search engines (including Technorati and Google)
  • search for your highlighted terms in seven different verticals from local to TV to stocks.


19:48 Posted in Research tools | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: research tools

Intentional motor phantom limb syndrome

Intentional motor phantom limb syndrome.

Neurology. 2006 Dec 26;67(12):2140-6

Authors: Staub F, Bogousslavsky J, Maeder P, Maeder-Ingvar M, Fornari E, Ghika J, Vingerhoets F, Assal G

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the clinical and anatomic correlates of a previously unreported form of chronic supernumerary phantom limb, which developed only in association with motor intent directed at a hemiplegic-anesthetic upper limb. METHODS: We explored the phenomenology of the phantom illusion in the light of motor control models. Hemodynamic correlates of supernumerary phantom limb were studied with an fMRI sensorimotor paradigm consisting of finger-thumb opposition movements. RESULTS: The kinesthetic-proprioceptive illusion of a third arm was triggered by any attempt to move the paretic limb, by bimanual actions, and by motor imagery involving the nonfunctional limb. The responsible lesion destroyed the posterior part of the posterior limb of the internal capsule on the opposite side, damaging corticospinal and thalamocortical tracts. Comparison between fMRI signals performed during virtual movement of the phantom hand vs imaginary movement of the paretic hand showed increased activation in thalamus and caudate nucleus in the first condition. CONCLUSIONS: A preserved sense of agency provided by intact premotor processes translating intention into action may lead to the vivid feeling of movement in a paralyzed limb, similar to kinesthetic illusions in amputees. The interruption of thalamic afferences may explain the persistence and stability of the phantom by preventing any correction of the mismatch between expected and effective movement. The increased blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal in the basal ganglia-thalamus-cortex pathway during movement of the supernumerary hand may reflect an abnormal closed-loop functioning of the thalamocortical system underlying the phantom phenomenon.

The state of mental-gymnastic

Via the BrainBlog

The New York Times has a front-page article concerning the current state of mental-gymnastic services. From the article:

Science is not sure yet, but across the country, brain health programs are springing up, offering the possibility of a cognitive fountain of youth.

From “brain gyms” on the Internet to “brain-healthy” foods and activities at assisted living centers, the programs are aimed at baby boomers anxious about entering their golden years and at their parents trying to stave off memory loss or dementia.

“This is going to be one of the hottest topics in the next five years — it’s going to be huge,” said Nancy Ceridwyn, co-director of special projects for the American Society on Aging. “The challenge we have is it’s going to be a lot like the anti-aging industry: how much science is there behind this?”


Read the full article

Dec 23, 2006

Effects of VR distraction on pain, fear, and distress

Effects of distraction on pain, fear, and distress during venous port access and venipuncture in children and adolescents with cancer.

J Pediatr Oncol Nurs. 2007 Jan-Feb;24(1):8-19

Authors: Windich-Biermeier A, Sjoberg I, Dale JC, Eshelman D, Guzzetta CE

This study evaluates the effect of self-selected distracters (ie, bubbles, I Spy: Super Challenger book, music table, virtual reality glasses, or handheld video games) on pain, fear, and distress in 50 children and adolescents with cancer, ages 5 to 18, with port access or venipuncture. Using an intervention-comparison group design, participants were randomized to the comparison group (n = 28) to receive standard care or intervention group (n = 22) to receive distraction plus standard care. All participants rated their pain and fear, parents rated participant fear, and the nurse rated participant fear and distress at 3 points in time: before, during, and after port access or venipuncture. Results show that self-reported pain and fear were significantly correlated (P = .01) within treatment groups but not significantly different between groups. Intervention participants demonstrated significantly less fear (P <.001) and distress (P = .03) as rated by the nurse and approached significantly less fear (P = .07) as rated by the parent. All intervention parents said the needlestick was better because of the distracter. The authors conclude that distraction has the potential to reduce fear and distress during port access and venipuncture.

Positive emotions boost creativity

Via World of Psychology

Researchers from the University of Toronto found that creativity is improved when people are in a good mood.

Read the post on WoP

Read ABC health report on the study

Brain mouse

via omnibrain 

if you are still looking for a xmas gift, what about this Brain mouse designed by Pat Says Now

brain computer mouse


17:50 Posted in Cyberart | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: cyberart

FDA Approves Cool-Cap

Via BrainBlog

FDA Approves Novel Device That Prevents or Reduces Brain Damage in Infants (FDA press release)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today approved a first-of-a-kind medical device for the treatment of babies born with moderate to severe hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), a potentially fatal injury to the brain caused by low levels of oxygen.  The Olympic Cool-Cap system is designed to prevent or reduce damage to the brains of these patients by keeping the head cool while the body is maintained at a slightly below-normal temperature.  The Cool-Cap is manufactured by Olympic Medical Corporation, a subsidiary of Natus Medical Incorporated of San Carlos, Calif.

Read the full PR

A Virtual Reprise of the Stanley Milgram Obedience Experiments

Via BPS Research Digest

Mel Slater at UCL and colleagues have recreated Milgram’s classic obediency psychology experiment using virtual reality. Back in the 1960s Stanley Milgram appeared to show that student participants would obey a researcher and administer lethal electric shocks to a stranger, but the studies have not been replicated because of ethical concerns. Now researchers have tested participants’ willingness to administer electric shocks to a computer animated woman in a virtual reality environment. The study was published a few days ago in PLOS online

Slater, M., Antley, M., Davison, A., Swapp, D., Guger, C., Barker, C., Pistrang, N. & Sanchez-Vives, M.V. (2006). A Virtual Reprise of the Stanley Milgram Obedience Experiments. PLOS ONE, 1, e39 (open access).



13:55 Posted in Research tools | Permalink | Comments (0)

The future of research journals and peer-review

Via Medgadget

PLoS ONE - the newest journal of the Public Library of Science - is looking to completely shift the way peer-reviewed literature works:


PLoS ONE features reports of primary research from all disciplines within science and medicine. By not excluding papers on the basis of subject area, PLoS ONE facilitates the discovery of the connections between papers whether within or between disciplines.

Peer Review:

Each submission will be assessed by a member of the PLoS ONE Editorial Board before publication. This pre-publication peer review will concentrate on technical rather than subjective concerns and may involve discussion with other members of the Editorial Board and/or the solicitation of formal reports from independent referees. If published, papers will be made available for community-based open peer review involving online annotation, discussion, and rating.

Open Access:

All works published in PLoS journals are open access, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License. Everything is immediately available online without cost to anyone, anywhere--to read, download, redistribute, include in databases, and otherwise use--subject only to the condition that the original authorship is properly attributed. Copyright is retained by the author.


Read more

13:45 Posted in Research tools | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: research tools

Future scenario video about UMPCs

Via Mobile Community Design

The UMPC site has an interesting little future scenario video about how UMPCs might be used

Dec 22, 2006

The significance of sigma neurofeedback training on sleep spindles and aspects of declarative memory

The significance of sigma neurofeedback training on sleep spindles and aspects of declarative memory.

Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2006 Jun;31(2):97-114

Authors: Berner I, Schabus M, Wienerroither T, Klimesch W

The functional significance of sleep spindles for overnight memory consolidation and general learning aptitude as well as the effect of four 10-minute sessions of spindle frequency (11.6-16 Hz, sigma) neurofeedback-training on subsequent sleep spindle activity and overnight performance change was investigated. Before sleep, subjects were trained on a paired-associate word list task after having received either neurofeedback training (NFT) or pseudofeedback training (PFT).Although NFT had no significant impact on subsequent spindle activity and behavioral outcomes, there was a trend for enhanced sigma band-power during NREM (stage 2 to 4) sleep after NFT as compared to PFT. Furthermore, a significant positive correlation between spindle activity during slow wave sleep (in the first night half) and overall memory performance was revealed. The results support the view that the considerable inter-individual variance in sleep spindle activity can at least be partly explained by differences in the ability to acquire new declarative information.We conclude that the short NFT before sleep was not sufficient to efficiently enhance phasic spindle activity and/or to influence memory processing. NFT was, however, successful in increasing sigma power, presumably because sigma NFT effects become more easily evident in actually trained frequency bands than in associated phasic spindle activity.

Second Life avatars consume as much electricity as Brazilians

From 3Dpoint

Nick Carr calculates that a Second Life avatar consumes as much electricity as a Brazilian:

If there are on average between 10,000 and 15,000 avatars "living" in Second Life at any point, that means the world has a population of about 12,500. Supporting those 12,500 avatars requires 4,000 servers as well as the 12,500 PCs the avatars' physical alter egos are using. Conservatively, a PC consumes 120 watts and a server consumes 200 watts. Throw in another 50 watts per server for data-center air conditioning. So, on a daily basis, overall Second Life power consumption equals... 60,000 kilowatt-hours....

Which, annualized, gives us [an average avatar consumption of] 1,752 kWh. So an avatar consumes 1,752 kWh per year..... [T]he average citizen of Brazil consumes 1,884 kWh, which, given the fact that my avatar estimate was rough and conservative, means that your average Second Life avatar consumes about as much electricity as your average Brazilian.

Which means, in turn, that avatars aren't quite as intangible as they seem. They don't have bodies, but they do leave footprints.

00:25 Posted in Virtual worlds | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: second life

Smoking cues in a virtual world provoke craving in cigarette smokers

Smoking cues in a virtual world provoke craving in cigarette smokers.

Psychol Addict Behav. 2006 Dec;20(4):484-9

Authors: Baumann SB, Sayette MA

Twenty smoking-deprived cigarette smokers participated in a study to test the ability of smoking cues within a virtual world to provoke self-reported craving to smoke. Participants were exposed to 2 virtual-reality simulations displayed on a computer monitor: a control environment not containing any intentional smoking stimuli and a cue-exposure environment containing smoking stimuli. At various points, participants rated their urge to smoke on a scale of 0-100. Results indicated that baseline urge ratings were equivalent in both conditions, but the maximum increase in urge ratings was significantly higher in the cue-exposure environment than in the control environment. This is comparable to what in vivo studies have reported, but with the advantage of simulating more naturalistic and complex settings in a controlled environment.

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