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Feb 25, 2007

£7 Million Serious Games Institute In Coventry

Via Future-Making Serious Games 

Friday, February 23 2007

The Serious Games Institute will be based at Coventry University Technology Park and built on the West Midlands’ excellence in computer games to diversify into non-entertainment uses such as simulation, education and training.

The centre is currently under construction and will be linked into satellite centres at Coventry University and the University of Warwick.

The Serious Games Institute will be fully operational by the autumn of 2007 but it will be holding a series of events to raise awareness between now and the opening date, including a special serious games workshop on Tuesday March 20 at the Technocentre Creativity Lab.

Read more on ClickPress


12:52 Posted in Serious games | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: serious games

TANGO: The Next Generation of Assitive Communication Devices



Via Medgadget 


A company called Blink Twice is developing a speech-generating device that promises to improve the way differently-abled children communicate with their world:


The tango! is an amazing communication aid that accomplishes all the amazing things you've seen in the emulation. It contains phrases, words, and spelling, all in easier-to-understand, digitally enhanced or synthesized voices. In a snap, it lets you create photo albums, do voice-morphing, and change icons using photos.

The tango! is the first speech-generating device to bring the power of mass communications and consumer electronics to the world of AAC. It combines a broad array of communication methods, such as an intuitive language hierarchy, ingenious new icons, and easy-to-access pop-ups, with the vast power of consumer electronics - like a built-in camera and voice morphing, so individuals can better match their specific communication needs with the best features to achieve them.

Brain radio

Via KurzweilAI.net 

Researchers at Medtronic are developing an implantable device designed to electrically stimulate areas of the brain to control diseases such as Parkinson's disease, epilepsy and depression.

From EEtimes

"We want to measure the average activity of thousands of brain cells," said Tim Denison, a senior principal engineer at Medtronic Neurological Technologies, who presented the ISSCC paper. "Essentially we want to build a brain radio that we can tune to the particular frequencies of the patient," he added.

Read the full story 




Grand challenges proposed by the U.K. Computing Research Committee

Re-blogged from KurzweilAI.net 


Grand challenges proposed by the U.K. Computing Research Committee include a project to unify cognitive science, artificial intelligence, and robotics.

One sign of success would be a robot capable of functioning at the level of a 2- to 5-year-old child. Another milestone could be a robot capable of autonomously helping a disabled person around a house without explicit preprogramming about its environment.

Other challenge is intended to create more dependable computers and associated software systems, which oversee the bulk of the world's financial transactions, regulate life-saving instruments, and manage the delivery of products.


Read Original Article>>

Seconde Life on cell phones

Via textually.org








Second Life Reuters reports that Comverse Technology has developed an application that runs Second Life on Java-enabled mobile phones. The platform includes also a software that allows integrated SMS and instant messaging and the streaming of mobile video within SL.


Socially assistive robotics for post-stroke rehabilitation

Socially assistive robotics for post-stroke rehabilitation

By Maja J Mataric', Jon Eriksson, David J Feil-Seifer and Carolee J Winstein, Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation

Background: Although there is a great deal of success in rehabilitative robotics applied to patient recovery post-stoke, most of the rehabilitation research to date has dealt with providing physical assistance. However, new studies support the theory that not all therapy need be hands-on. We describe a new area, called socially assistive robotics, that focuses on non-contact patient/user assistance. We demonstrate the approach with an implemented and tested post-stroke recovery robot and discuss its potential for effectiveness. Results: We describe a pilot study involving an autonomous assistive mobile robot that aids stoke patient rehabilitation by providing monitoring, encouragement, and reminders. The robot navigates autonomously, monitors the patient's arm activity, and helps the patient remember to follow a rehabilitation program. We also show preliminary results from a follow-up study that studied the role of robot physical embodiment in a rehabilitation context. Conclusions: Future experimental design and factors that will be considered in order to develop effective socially assistive post-stroke rehabilitation robot are outlined and discussed.


The size-weight illusion in natural and virtual reality

Seeing size and feeling weight: the size-weight illusion in natural and virtual reality.

Hum Factors. 2007 Feb;49(1):136-44

Authors: Heineken E, Schulte FP

OBJECTIVE: We experimentally tested the degree that the size-weight illusion depends on perceptual conditions allowing the observer to assume that both the visual and the kinesthetic stimuli of a weight seen and lifted emanate from the same object. We expected that the degree of the illusion depended on the "realism" provided by different kinds of virtual reality (VR) used when the weights are seen in virtual reality and at the same time lifted in natural reality. BACKGROUND: Welch and Warren (1980) reported that an intermodal influence can be expected only if perceptual information of different modalities is compellingly related to only one object. METHOD: Objects of different sizes and weights were presented to 50 participants in natural reality or in four virtual realities: two immersive head-mounted display VRs (with or without head tracking) and two nonimmersive desktop VRs (with or without screening from input of the natural environment using a visor). The objects' heaviness was scaled using the magnitude estimation method. RESULTS: Data show that the degree of the illusion is largest in immersive and lowest in nonimmersive virtual realities. CONCLUSION: The higher the degree of the illusion is, the more compelling the situation is perceived and the more the observed data are in correspondence with the data predicted for the illusion in natural reality. This shows that the kind of mediating technology used strongly influences the presence experienced. APPLICATION: The size-weight illusion's sensitivity to conditions that affect the sense of presence makes it a promising objective presence measure.

Feb 24, 2007

Performing Presence: From the Live to the Simulated

Uploaded Image


from the project website:


what creates a sense of presence? - the presence of a live performer ... the presence of the past ... in a memory ... in ruined remains ... the sense of 'being there' in an online community ... in a VR or mixed reality environment ...

The Presence Project is exploring such questions through a documentation of extended processes engaging with presence. Follow these links to explore our work with Lynn Hershman Leeson | Gary Hill | Tony Oursler | Blast Theory | The Builders Association | Paul Sermon

We are also fully documenting a series of performance workshops, led by Tim Etchells | Bella Merlin | Vayu Naidu | Mike Pearson and Mike Brookes | Fiona Templeton | Phillip Zarrilli

In 2007 and 2008 The Presence Project will be conducting two exercises at UCL's CAVE, the first of which is now in development.

Light-emitting shirts

check out ths cool wearable display developed by Philips researchers. They are integrating LEDs into fabrics to obtain light-emitting clothes




15:34 Posted in Wearable & mobile | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: wearable

RFID Powder Developed By Hitachi

From Pink Tentacle

RFID powder developed by Hitachi


Hitachi researchers have developed a new micro-miniaturized radio frequency identification (RFID) chip that is 64 times smaller than their currently available 0.4 x 0.4 mm mu-chips.

At 5 microns thick, the RFID chips can more easily be embedded in sheets of paper, meaning they can be used in paper currency, gift certificates and identification



Virtual reality and biofeedback training for balance

Functional balance and dual-task reaction times in older adults are improved by virtual reality and biofeedback training.

Cyberpsychol Behav. 2007 Feb;10(1):16-23

Authors: Bisson E, Contant B, Sveistrup H, Lajoie Y

Virtual reality (VR) training has been used successfully to rehabilitate functional balance and mobility in both traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivors and elderly subjects. Similarly, computer-based biofeedback (BF) training has resulted in decreased sway during quiet stance and decreased reaction times during a dual-task reaction time paradigm in elderly subjects. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of VR and BF training on balance and reaction time in older adults. Two groups of twelve healthy older adults completed 10-week training programs consisting of two 30-min sessions per week. VR training required that participants lean sideways to juggle a virtual ball. Participants in the BF group viewed a red dot representing their center of gravity on a screen and were required to move the dot to the four corners of the monitor. Measures of functional balance and mobility (Community Balance and Mobility Scale [CB&M]), sway during quiet stance, and reaction time during a dual task paradigm were recorded before training, as well as 1 week and 1 month after the end of the program. Both groups showed significant improvements on the CB&M, as well as decreased reaction times with training. Postural sway during quiet stance did not change significantly.

15:13 Posted in Cybertherapy | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: cybertherapy

Feb 23, 2007

Fear of flying treatment methods: virtual reality exposure vs. cognitive behavioral therapy

Fear of flying treatment methods: virtual reality exposure vs. cognitive behavioral therapy.

Aviat Space Environ Med. 2007 Feb;78(2):121-8

Authors: Krijn M, Emmelkamp PM, Olafsson RP, Bouwman M, van Gerwen LJ, Spinhoven P, Schuemie MJ, van der Mast CA

INTRODUCTION: Fear of flying (FOF) can be a serious problem for individuals who develop this condition and for military and civilian organizations that operate aircraft. The aim of this study was to compare the effectiveness of three treatments: bibliotherapy (BIB) without therapist contact; individualized virtual reality exposure therapy (VRE); and cognitive behavior therapy (CB). In addition, we evaluated the effect of following up VRE and CB with 2 d of group cognitive-behavioral training (GrCB). METHODS: There were 86 subjects suffering from FOF who entered the study; 19 BIB, 29 VRE, and 16 CB subjects completed the treatment protocols. The BIB subjects were then treated with VRE (n = 7) or CB (n = 12). There were 59 subjects who were then trained with GrCB. RESULTS: Treatment with VRE or CB was more effective than BIB. Both VRE and CB showed a decline in FOF on the two main outcome measures. There was no statistically significant difference between those two therapies. However, effect sizes were lower for VRE (small to moderate) than for CB (moderate) and the addition of GrCB had less effect for VRE than for CB. DISCUSSION: VRE holds promise as treatment for FOF, but in this trial CB followed by GrCB showed the largest decrease in subjective anxiety. The results suggest that future research should focus on comparing the effectiveness of VRE vs. VRE plus cognitive techniques or measure the effectiveness of each component of treatment. Moreover, the effectiveness of the GrCB as stand-alone treatment should be investigated, which might even be superior in cost-effectiveness.

19:50 Posted in Cybertherapy | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: cybertherapy

VR in stroke rehabilitation

Assessment and training in a 3-dimensional virtual environment with haptics: a report on 5 cases of motor rehabilitation in the chronic stage after stroke.

Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2007 Jun;21(2):180-9

Authors: Broeren J, Rydmark M, Björkdahl A, Sunnerhagen KS

OBJECTIVE: . This exploratory study assessed the possible effectiveness of hemiparetic upper extremity training in subjects with chronic stroke with computer instrumentation (haptic force feedback) and 3-dimensional visualization applied to computer games, as well as to evaluate concurrent computer-assisted assessment of the kinematics of movements and test whether any improvement detected in the computer environment was reflected in activities of daily living (ADLs). METHODS: . A single-subject repeated-measures experimental design (AB) was used. After baseline testing, 5 patients were assigned to the therapy 3 times a week for 45 min for 5 weeks. Velocity, time needed to reach, and hand path ratio (reflecting superfluous movements) were the outcome measures, along with the Assessment of Motor and Process Skills and the Box and Block test. The follow-up phase (C) occurred 12 weeks later. RESULTS: . Improvements were noted in velocity, time, and hand path ratio. One patient showed improvement in occupational performance in ADLs. CONCLUSIONS: .The application of this strategy of using virtual reality (VR) technologies may be useful in assessing and training stroke patients. The results of this study must be reproduced in further studies. The VR systems can be placed in homes or other nonclinical settings.

19:49 Posted in Cybertherapy | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: cybertherapy

Feb 20, 2007

Studies of chinese original quiet sitting by using fMRI

Studies of chinese original quiet sitting by using functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2005;5:5317-9

Authors: Liou CH, Hsieh CW, Hsieh CH, Chen JH, Wang CH, Lee SC

Since different meditations may activate different regions in brain, we can use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate it. Chinese original quiet sitting is mainly one kind of traditional Chinese meditation. It contains two different parts: a short period of keeping phrase and intake spiritual energy, and a long period of relaxation with no further action. In this paper, both those two stages were studied by fMRI. We performed two different paradigms and found the accurate positions in the brain. The pineal gland and the hypothalamus showed positive activation during the first and second stages of this meditation. The BOLD (Blood Oxygenation Level Dependent) signal changes had also been found.

20:25 Posted in Meditation & brain | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: meditation

Feb 19, 2007

Mindfulness in mood disorders

The application of mindfulness-based cognitive interventions in the treatment of co-occurring addictive and mood disorders.

CNS Spectr. 2006 Nov;11(11):829-51

Authors: Hoppes K

This article reviews the theory, clinical application, and empirical findings on mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) for mental health and addictive disorders. Expanding upon the research demonstrating the efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for addiction, this article develops and explores the rationale for combining mindfulness-based interventions with evidence-based CBTs in treating addictive disorders, with an emphasis on substance use disorders with co-occurring mood disorders. This article proposes that deficits in affect--regulation related to the behavioral and emotional effects of neurobiological changes that occur with long-term substance abuse--pose a unique set of challenges in early recovery. Prolonged use of addictive substances impairs the brain pathways that mediate certain affect regulation functions. These functions involve attention and inhibitory control, the saliency of and response to addictive versus natural reward stimuli, and the ability to detach or maintain perspective in response to strong emotional states. In treating this affective dysregulation, which can contribute to the vulnerability to relapse in the early stages of recovery, the affect-regulation-specific focus of MBCT adds a valuable element to augment CBT for addiction. Summarizing magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography findings on the effects of MBCT and the neurobiology of drug addiction, this article outlines directions for further research on potential benefits of MBCT for the recovering individual. Finally, this article describes a structured protocol, developed at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, which combines CBT with mindfulness-based intervention, for the treatment of affect-regulation issues specific to co-occurring addictive and mood disorders.

20:25 Posted in Meditation & brain | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: meditation

Low-cost telepresence for collaborative virtual environments

Low-cost telepresence for collaborative virtual environments.

IEEE Trans Vis Comput Graph. 2007 Jan-Feb;13(1):156-66

Authors: Rhee SM, Ziegler R, Park J, Naef M, Gross M, Kim MH

We present a novel low-cost method for visual communication and telepresence in a CAVE -like environment, relying on 2D stereo-based video avatars. The system combines a selection of proven efficient algorithms and approximations in a unique way, resulting in a convincing stereoscopic real-time representation of a remote user acquired in a spatially immersive display. The system was designed to extend existing projection systems with acquisition capabilities requiring minimal hardware modifications and cost. The system uses infrared-based image segmentation to enable concurrent acquisition and projection in an immersive environment without a static background. The system consists of two color cameras and two additional b/w cameras used for segmentation in the near-IR spectrum. There is no need for special optics as the mask and color image are merged using image-warping based on a depth estimation. The resulting stereo image stream is compressed, streamed across a network, and displayed as a frame-sequential stereo texture on a billboard in the remote virtual environment.

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy for PTSD Symptoms

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy for PTSD Symptoms After a Road Accident: An Uncontrolled Case Series.

Behav Ther. 2007 Mar;38(1):39-48

Authors: Beck JG, Palyo SA, Winer EH, Schwagler BE, Ang EJ

This report examined whether Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET) could be used in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in the aftermath of a serious motor vehicle accident. Six individuals reporting either full or severe subsyndromal PTSD completed 10 sessions of VRET, which was conducted using software designed to create real-time driving scenarios. Results indicated significant reductions in posttrauma symptoms involving reexperiencing, avoidance, and emotional numbing, with effect sizes ranging from d=.79 to d=1.49. Indices of clinically significant and reliable change suggested that the magnitude of these changes was meaningful. Additionally, high levels of perceived reality ("presence") within the virtual driving situation were reported, and patients reported satisfaction with treatment. Results are discussed in light of the possibility for VRET to be useful in guiding exposure in the treatment of PTSD following road accidents.

00:30 Posted in Cybertherapy | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: cybertherapy

Some notable moments in recorded life

Recent progresses in miniaturization and storage capability have made it possible to record, access, retrieve, and potential sharing, all the generated information of a user's or object's life experience.

Two of the most important projects in this area are Lifelogs (initially funded by DARPA, then killed by the Pentagon in 2004) and Microsoft MyLifeBits 

I am fashinated by how these new technologies could radically change psychotherapy and, more generally, how they could fundamentally affect our life.

In this article entitled On the Record, All the Time, Scott Carlson thaces the story and the implications of the introduction of LifeLogging. In the article I found a list of some notable moments in "recorded life":

1900s: The Brownie camera makes photography available to the masses.

1940: President Franklin D. Roosevelt begins recording press conferences and some meetings.

1945: Vannevar Bush, a prominent American scientist, predicts a time when scientists will be photographing their lab work and storing their correspondence in a machine called a "memex."

1960s: Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson record meetings and phone conversations for posterity, which later provides hundreds of hours of programming for C-Span.

1969: The microcassette goes on the market and becomes the voice-recording medium of choice.

1973: An American Family, documenting the domestic drama of the Louds, is the first reality-TV show.

1973-74: President Richard Nixon releases the Watergate tapesjust some of more than 3,500 hours of conversations that he had recordedwhich leads to his resignation.

Late 1970s: Steve Mann, a professor at the University of Toronto, begins dabbling in wearable computing.

Mid-1980s: Fitness nuts are wearing stretch pants and leggings, along with wristwatch-sized devices that measure heart rate and blood pressure. The heart monitors can cost $200 or more.

1991: The first Webcam goes online.

Mid-1990s: Cellphones, digital cameras, and the Internet become commonplace.

1995: Gordon Bell, a computer engineer and entrepreneur, gets involved with Microsoft Research and begins work that will lead him to record various aspects of his life for the MyLifeBits project.

1999: Microsoft Research invents prototype SenseCams, cameras that hang around the neck and continuously snap pictures.

2000: Scrapbooking has a renaissance, leading to new retail stores devoted to a hobby industry now worth $2-billion.

2003: MySpace debuts. 2004: The Final Cut, starring Robin Williams, describes a future where memories are recorded on implanted chips. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency drops a lifelogging project amid a furor over privacy. A workshop on the "Continuous Archival and Retrieval of Personal Experiences" convenes at Columbia University.

2005: YouTube appears.

2006: Nokia releases Lifeblog 2.0, which allows people to upload audio notes, photographs, location information, and other records of life events to a database.

I4: Interactivity / Information / Interfaces / Immersion



From Networked Performance


I4: Interactivity / Information / Interfaces / Immersion: International Research Conference, J W Goethe University, Institute of Cultural Anthropology and European Ethnology: Organized by the Research Network for Media Anthropology / FAME, Frankfurt: October 24-26, 2007.

Even before the emergence of social software, web logs and wikis, it was clear that digital communication technologies are, in essence, complex social software programs with the power to change people's perception, the way people experience their environment, their ability to abstract, their rules of trust, and much more besides. Whereas the 1980s and 1990s were marked by "quasi-social" connections between people that occurred en passant, by strategies of urban artistic "repurposing" (Digital Amsterdam), by a conspiracy of Internet-using consumers, and by a user-based cyber society, the situation has now changed fundamentally.

There has been a shift from technology-driven systems to media-driven systems and then to user/project-generated content. As the empiricism of the artificial becomes a global given, social, cultural, economic and political frames of reference are shifting. Countless new and unparalleled means of modeling social factors are emerging within a mesh of agencies around the world. Digital natives - those who have grown up with computer and internet applications - have spawned a societal and cultural paradigm shift. Societal and cultural geography is being extended by a global scenography of cultural artifacts. However, this raises important issues concerning the logic of the continuity of interaction, of a reliable and sustained presence, of adaptive learning and abstraction - issues that have become social markers in the programming, utilization, and onward development of applications, platforms and environments.

Increasingly, today's designs and programs for digital worlds face the challenge of delivering complex, multisensory, transcultural, and global interaction capabilities in a robust technology-based environment. The changes are creating a need for the explicit modeling of human collaboration and cultural interaction which, increasingly, is causing software production to move out of the high-tech niche of computer science and media design into the realm of cultural and social anthropology. At the same time, there is a growing need to know more about the logic of construction (v. Glaserfeld) of culture and to be able to apply that knowledge. The need for explicit and programmable cultural concepts is moving closer to the science of the artificial as proposed by Herbert A. Simon and echoes Norbert Elias's call for the scientific presentation of a developmental theory of abstraction.

Clearly, it would be wrong to assume that explicit, programmed models for collaboration, the creation of cultures, abstraction and artificial environments can eradicate the complexities of chance relationships, interaction, imagination, fiction, routine, or forgetfulness. Nonetheless, the possibilities they offer will be changed fundamentally by the emergence of programmed worlds and environments. All over the globe, artificial cybernetic spaces are something now taken for granted. Computer technology is designed to be ubiquitous, and the direct control of computers by means of brain waves is supplanting control by means of a pointing device or the human eye. Presence and telepresence, key concepts in earlier research, are receding into the background with the advent of computer technologies which can be inserted under the skin, into clothing, and into the eyes and ears or can generate realities in their own right without which the frames of reference of today's and tomorrow's realities will become meaningless. Ten years ago, S. Jones asked, "Where are we when we are online?" and J. Meyrowitz noted "being elsewhere." Electronic games, e-sports, and around a billion people working in countless local area networks all exist in a vireality (M. Klein). What are the living, communication and working circumstances in these virealities? How should virtual spaces be designed in order to provide sufficiently complex environments for perception, design, decision-making, routine, trust, etc.? 

The > I4 

We assume that all human sensory and mental capabilities and the ability to abstract, conceive and implement things are, and have been, involved in the development of human ability to use media.

The concept of media encompasses perception, abstraction, storage, rules for the retention of information - of texts and holytexts, the great sagas, manifestations of cultural memory - and progression beyond existing knowledge paradigms. It is impossible to determine how perception and interaction will impact on media, either qualitatively or quantitatively. If the notion of a uniting organization is seen as a selection method or principle, the weight of these ideas becomes clear. They show that every form of interactive reciprocity is a selector and that the uniting force of interactivity lies in the definition of selection, distribution and retention criteria. This applies to methods of hearing, reading, writing, tasting, thinking, making music, and much more besides.

Increasingly, we expect and demand more from media - more information, more breadth of choice, more freedom of choice, more world, more closeness, more entertainment, more biography, more community: We want media to address us, entertain us, inform us. This is about more than consuming media. Our sense of reality has long since been subsumed into a sense of media; our sense of reality is embodied in our sense of media. We take the world presented through media seriously, we recognize the reality of information; we trust the information and the rules that make it credible.

The conference will be devoted to questions surrounding digital environments and the technology-based generation of cultural patterns in four areas: Interactivity / Information / Interfaces / Immersion.

We invite submissions which explore these issues and offer answers to such questions as:

What connections can we currently identify between software development and cultural evolution? What significance can be attached to co-evolutionary processes in perception, abstraction, forms of virtualization, digital technologies and communication capabilities? What kinds of virtual spaces are developing? How are digital communication spaces influencing urbanization processes and the architecture of buildings? What significance does game software have in creating new social and cultural contexts? What kinds of cooperative and collaborative processes are developing? What are the defining properties of an explicit model of social constructs in a technology-based media environment? How are means of digital communication influencing children's and adults' living spaces and interior architecture? How can a transition from the idiocy of the masses and the knowledge of the crowd into a knowledge-generating virtual community be explained? Can we see signs of an emerging virtual civilization? How will network-integrated community building be important in the future? How are learning and the structure and legitimation of knowledge changing?

Please submit ideas for topics and papers (500 words max.) by March 31, 2007

Initiators and contacts:

Prof. Manfred Faßler
FAME - Frankfurt/ Research Network for Media Anthropology, Institute of Cultural Anthropology and European Ethnology J W. Goethe University fasslermanfred[at]aol.com

Dr. Mark Mattingley-Scott
Institute of Cultural Anthropology and European Ethnology
J W. Goethe University

Feb 17, 2007

Action Video Games Sharpen Vision 20 Percent

From Medgadget

According to researchers at University of Rochester, video games that contain high levels of action, such as Unreal Tournament, can actually improve your vision:

Researchers at the University of Rochester have shown that people who played action video games for a few hours a day over the course of a month improved by about 20 percent in their ability to identify letters presented in clutter--a visual acuity test similar to ones used in regular ophthalmology clinics.

In essence, playing video game improves your bottom line on a standard eye chart...

Bavelier [Daphne Bavelier is Professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester --ed.] and graduate student Shawn Green tested college students who had played few, if any, video games in the last year. "That alone was pretty tough," says Green. "Nearly everybody on a campus plays video games."

At the outset, the students were given a crowding test, which measured how well they could discern the orientation of a "T" within a crowd of other distracting symbols--a sort of electronic eye chart. Students were then divided into two groups. The experimental group played Unreal Tournament, a first-person shoot-'em-up action game, for roughly an hour a day. The control group played Tetris, a game equally demanding in terms of motor control, but visually less complex.

After about a month of near-daily gaming, the Tetris players showed no improvement on the test, but the Unreal Tournament players could tell which way the "T" was pointing much more easily than they had just a month earlier.

"When people play action games, they're changing the brain's pathway responsible for visual processing," says Bavelier. "These games push the human visual system to the limits and the brain adapts to it. That learning carries over into other activities and possibly everyday life."

The improvement was seen both in the part of the visual field where video game players typically play, but also beyond--the part of your vision beyond the monitor. The students' vision improved in the center and at the periphery where they had not been "trained." That suggests that people with visual deficits, such as amblyopic patients, may also be able to gain an increase in their visual acuity with special rehabilitation software that reproduces an action game's need to identify objects very quickly.

20:58 Posted in Research tools | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: research tools

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