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Apr 29, 2008

11th Annual International Workshop on Presence

11th Annual International Workshop on Presence

Padova, Italy
October 16-18, 2008

Second Call for Papers

Submission deadline (extended): May 23, 2008

Academics and practitioners with an interest in the concept of (tele)presence are invited to submit their work
for presentation at the 11th Annual International Workshop on Presence, to be held in Padova, Italy, on
October 16-18, 2008.

Often described as a sense of “being there” in a mediated environment, telepresence is broadly defined as a
psychological state or subjective perception in which a person fails to accurately and completely
acknowledge the role of technology in an experience. It is a rich, fascinating subject of scientific
investigation, artistic exploration and diverse application, with increasingly important implications for the ways
in which people interact and technologies are developed. Designing technologies and imagining practices to
modify, prolong and reconfigure the possibilities of being present has been a continuous endeavor of the
human species, from early attempts at constructing communication and transportation devices, to the many
current technologies we continue to develop to reach other places and people. Originally focused on bringing
“presence” from the real world to a simulated one, the phenomenon is today analyzed and investigated in the
context of diverse environments and involves questioning simple distinctions between “‘real” and “artificial”.
This opening to a wide range of mediated environments is accompanied by a growing involvement of
different research fields that are continuously updating and modifying the contours of presence scholarship.
The phenomenon of presence is challenging from a scientific point of view as much as it is viable in
everyday life, where people participate in simultaneous mediated experiences, feeling present or co-present
in digital locations without any need for explicit instructions and orchestrating technical and cognitive
resources to control and enhance presence. What it means to be present in mediated environments is then
an extremely relevant and enticing question, bearing all sorts of implications for the design and application of
diverse technologies.
Visit the conference website for more info 

Apr 24, 2008

Human area network (HAN) technology

Via Pink Tentacle

RedTacton human area network --


A new product by NTT, called “Firmo,” allows users to communicate with electronic devices by touching them. A card-sized transmitter carried in the user’s pocket transmits data across the surface of the human body. When the user touches a device, the electric field is converted back into a data signal that can be read by the device.

For now, a set of 5 card-sized transmitters and 1 receiver goes for around 800,000 yen ($8,000), but NTT expects the price to come down when they begin mass production.

Read more

Apr 23, 2008

Honda's walking assist device

Via Sentient Developments


The effect of biofeedback training on affective regulation and simulated car-racing performance

The effect of biofeedback training on affective regulation and simulated car-racing performance: A multiple case study analysis.

J Sports Sci. 2008 May;26(7):761-73

Authors: Edmonds WA, Tenenbaum G, Mann DT, Johnson M, Kamata A

The foundation of this study was based on an idiosyncratic concept, which uses probabilistic determinations (Kamata, Tenenbaum, & Hanin, 2002) to verify the utility and effectiveness of a biofeedback intervention by manipulating affective performance states in a race-car simulator. Nine males completed five separate time-trials of a simulated racing task and were then randomly assigned to one of three arousal regulation treatment conditions: (1) optimal, (2) poor, and (3) attention control. Following the biofeedback intervention, participants underwent another series of race trials to determine the effectiveness of the arousal regulation intervention. The results indicated that there were relative similarities in the strength and direction of the perceived and physiological states between the participants; however, the subtle details of the participants' unique performance zones and the probability of achieving each zone were revealed to be unique among the participants. The results also indicated that: (a) the biofeedback manipulation resulted in the expected changes for each participant, and (b) there were some large individual differences among the participants, necessitating the idiosyncratic approach. Limitations and future directions are also addressed.

Neural activation in cognitive motor processes

Neural activation in cognitive motor processes: comparing motor imagery and observation of gymnastic movements.

Exp Brain Res. 2008 Apr 19;

Authors: Munzert J, Zentgraf K, Stark R, Vaitl D

The simulation concept suggested by Jeannerod (Neuroimage 14:S103-S109, 2001) defines the S-states of action observation and mental simulation of action as action-related mental states lacking overt execution. Within this framework, similarities and neural overlap between S-states and overt execution are interpreted as providing the common basis for the motor representations implemented within the motor system. The present brain imaging study compared activation overlap and differential activation during mental simulation (motor imagery) with that while observing gymnastic movements. The fMRI conjunction analysis revealed overlapping activation for both S-states in primary motor cortex, premotor cortex, and the supplementary motor area as well as in the intraparietal sulcus, cerebellar hemispheres, and parts of the basal ganglia. A direct contrast between the motor imagery and observation conditions revealed stronger activation for imagery in the posterior insula and the anterior cingulate gyrus. The hippocampus, the superior parietal lobe, and the cerebellar areas were differentially activated in the observation condition. In general, these data corroborate the concept of action-related S-states because of the high overlap in core motor as well as in motor-related areas. We argue that differential activity between S-states relates to task-specific and modal information processing.

Apr 21, 2008

Interactive Architect - London

Deadine: 18 May 2008
Glass Partnership is looking to appoint a permanent experienced Interactive Architect. You’ll have the opportunity to work across a range of leading edge projects for our client base of brands including American Express, Virgin, San Miguel, Nokia and the NHS.

Glass is one of the new kids on the ‘digital’ block. With 24 full time employees, they have been trading for a couple of years and have been named as the NMA ‘one to watch’. They have a growth plan in place for 2008 and are looking for a Studio Manager to join the team, managing the resources and workflow in their busy studio.

We are looking to appoint an experienced Interactive Architect on a permanent basis. You’ll have the opportunity to work across a range of leading edge projects for our client base of brands including American Express, Virgin, San Miguel and Nokia, as well as institutions such as the NHS and charities such asYouthnet.

Do you know digital media, production and interaction design inside out? Brimming with energy, creativity and enthusiasm? Passionate about user experience and information theory? Capable and confident enough to get the best in information architecture and user experience from any brief across a range of large brand clients and sectors? An aptitude for getting stuck in, stacks of initiative, emphasis on quality, delivery and client satisfaction whilst keeping innovation and the user journey at the fore are all part of the deal. Sound like you? Get in touch…

- Evaluating clients' functional and business requirements.
- Conducting primary and secondary research to evaluate user needs.
- Performing usability inspections of existing systems and conducting competitive research.
- Developing information architecture, system vocabulary, task flows, navigation systems, and producing detailed wireframe layouts.
- Documenting screen-level interactions.
- Presenting and justifying interaction designs to clients.
- Developing paper or digital prototypes for early user testing.
- Creating project-specific user experience guidelines that assist clients in making future design decisions.
- Working with content writers, visual designers, and developers to ensure a smooth transition of the interactive design into development.

- At least 3 years experience in complex web application interaction design.
- Education in user-centered design (UCD) or ability to display a formal understanding of UCD theory and practice.
- Ability to blend both user goals and business goals to create an effective interactive experience.
- Working knowledge of browser-based technology constraints/capabilities (e.g. HTML, JavaScript, Flash, AJAX).
- Experience with a range of software development practices, including agile and use-case based methods.
- Superlative oral and written communication skills.
- Experience working directly with clients in a consulting role, including leading client meetings.
- Working knowledge of visual design tools (e.g.Visio or alternative).
- Experience designing and conducting usability studies is an asset.

Apr 16, 2008

TrackFly: Virtual reality for a behavioral system analysis in free-flying fruit flies

TrackFly: Virtual reality for a behavioral system analysis in free-flying fruit flies.

J Neurosci Methods. 2008 Mar 8;

Authors: Fry SN, Rohrseitz N, Straw AD, Dickinson MH

Modern neuroscience and the interest in biomimetic control design demand increasingly sophisticated experimental techniques that can be applied in freely moving animals under realistic behavioral conditions. To explore sensorimotor flight control mechanisms in free-flying fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster), we equipped a wind tunnel with a Virtual Reality (VR) display system based on standard digital hardware and a 3D path tracking system. We demonstrate the experimental power of this approach by example of a 'one-parameter open loop' testing paradigm. It provided (1) a straightforward measure of transient responses in presence of open loop visual stimulation; (2) high data throughput and standardized measurement conditions from process automation; and (3) simplified data analysis due to well-defined testing conditions. Being based on standard hardware and software techniques, our methods provide an affordable, easy to replicate and general solution for a broad range of behavioral applications in freely moving animals. Particular relevance for advanced behavioral research tools originates from the need to perform detailed behavioral analyses in genetically modified organisms and animal models for disease research.

12:33 Posted in Research tools | Permalink | Comments (0)

Apr 14, 2008

Virtual reality exposure therapy using a virtual Iraq

Virtual reality exposure therapy using a virtual Iraq: Case report.

J Trauma Stress. 2008 Apr 10;21(2):209-213

Authors: Gerardi M, Rothbaum BO, Ressler K, Heekin M, Rizzo A

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been estimated to affect up to 18% of returning Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) veterans. Soldiers need to maintain constant vigilance to deal with unpredictable threats, and an unprecedented number of soldiers are surviving serious wounds. These risk factors are significant for development of PTSD; therefore, early and efficient intervention options must be identified and presented in a form acceptable to military personnel. This case report presents the results of treatment utilizing virtual reality exposure (VRE) therapy (virtual Iraq) to treat an OIF veteran with PTSD. Following brief VRE treatment, the veteran demonstrated improvement in PTSD symptoms as indicated by clinically and statistically significant changes in scores on the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS; Blake et al., 1990) and the PTSD Symptom Scale Self-Report (PSS-SR; Foa, Riggs, Dancu, & Rothbaum, 1993). These results indicate preliminary promise for this treatment.

Apr 11, 2008

Alpha neurofeedback improves the maintaining ability of alpha activity

Alpha neurofeedback improves the maintaining ability of alpha activity.

Neuroreport. 2008 Feb 12;19(3):315-7

Authors: Cho MK, Jang HS, Jeong SH, Jang IS, Choi BJ, Lee MG

The effects of alpha-neurofeedback (ANF) on electroencephalographic alpha-activity were investigated. Each session consisted of a 2.5-min eye-opened state and 17.5-min of ANF, which was divided into 16 1.25-min bins. Alpha amplitudes were gradually increased as the session was repeated. The maximum value at the start of ANF gradually decreased as time passed, but the slowdown of alpha-activity during each session was decreased as the session was repeated. The correlation between alpha-activity at the end of ANF and at the following session's eye-opened state was highly significant. These results showed that ANF enhances the ability of alpha-activity to maintain itself rather than the increase of alpha-amplitude during intrasession and that the maintained alpha-activity during former training remained until the next session.

Apr 10, 2008

Using Participatory Media and Public Voice to Encourage Civic Engagement

a worth-reading article by Rheingold about the role of social media in supporting civic engagement

Using Participatory Media and Public Voice to Encourage Civic Engagement

Abstract. Teaching young people how to use digital media to convey their public voices could connect youthful interest in identity exploration and social interaction with direct experiences of civic engagement. Learning to use blogs (“web logs,” web pages that are regularly updated with links and opinion), wikis (web pages that non-programmers can edit easily), podcasts (digital radio productions distributed through the Internet), and digital video as media of self-expression, with an emphasis on “public voice,” should be considered a pillar—not just a component—of twenty-first-century civic curriculum. Participatory media that enable young people to create as well as consume media are popular among high school and college students. Introducing the use of these media in the context of the public sphere is an appropriate intervention for educators because the rhetoric of democratic participation is not necessarily learnable by self-guided point-and-click experimentation. The participatory characteristics of online digital media are described, examples briefly cited, the connection between individual expression and public opinion discussed, and specific exercises for developing a public voice through blogs, wikis, and podcasts are suggested. A companion wiki provides an open-ended collection of resources for educators: https://www.socialtext.net/medialiteracy.


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15:37 Posted in Social Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

Motor imagery: A window into the mechanisms and alterations of the motor system

Motor imagery: A window into the mechanisms and alterations of the motor system.

Cortex. 2008 May;44(5):494-506

Authors: de Lange FP, Roelofs K, Toni I

Motor imagery is a widely used paradigm for the study of cognitive aspects of action control, both in the healthy and the pathological brain. In this paper we review how motor imagery research has advanced our knowledge of behavioral and neural aspects of action control, both in healthy subjects and clinical populations. Furthermore, we will illustrate how motor imagery can provide new insights in a poorly understood psychopathological condition: conversion paralysis (CP). We measured behavioral and cerebral responses with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in seven CP patients with a lateralized paresis of the arm as they imagined moving the affected or the unaffected hand. Imagined actions were either implicitly induced by the task requirements, or explicitly instructed through verbal instructions. We previously showed that implicitly induced motor imagery of the affected limb leads to larger ventromedial prefrontal responses compared to motor imagery of the unaffected limb. We interpreted this effect in terms of greater self-monitoring of actions during motor imagery of the affected limb. Here, we report new data in support of this interpretation: inducing self-monitoring of actions of both the affected and the unaffected limb (by means of explicitly cued motor imagery) abolishes the activation difference between the affected and the unaffected hand in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Our results show that although implicit and explicit motor imagery both entail motor simulations, they differ in terms of the amount of action monitoring they induce. The increased self-monitoring evoked by explicit motor imagery can have profound cerebral consequences in a psychopathological condition.


Apr 08, 2008

Virtual reality study of paranoid thinking in the general population

Virtual reality study of paranoid thinking in the general population.

Br J Psychiatry. 2008 Apr;192:258-63

Authors: Freeman D, Pugh K, Antley A, Slater M, Bebbington P, Gittins M, Dunn G, Kuipers E, Fowler D, Garety P

BACKGROUND: Judging whether we can trust other people is central to social interaction, despite being error-prone. A fear of others can be instilled by the contemporary political and social climate. Unfounded mistrust is called paranoia, and in severe forms is a central symptom of schizophrenia. AIMS: To demonstrate that individuals without severe mental illness in the general population experience unfounded paranoid thoughts, and to determine factors predictive of paranoia using the first laboratory method of capturing the experience. METHOD: Two hundred members of the general public were comprehensively assessed, and then entered a virtual reality train ride populated by neutral characters. Ordinal logistic regressions (controlling for age, gender, ethnicity, education, intellectual functioning, socio-economic status, train use, playing of computer games) were used to determine predictors of paranoia. RESULTS: The majority agreed that the characters were neutral, or even thought they were friendly. However, a substantial minority reported paranoid concerns. Paranoia was strongly predicted by anxiety, worry, perceptual anomalies and cognitive inflexibility. CONCLUSIONS: This is the most unambiguous demonstration of paranoid ideation in the general public so far. Paranoia can be understood in terms of cognitive factors. The use of virtual reality should lead to rapid advances in the understanding of paranoia.

The development of brain-machine interface neuroprosthetic devices

The development of brain-machine interface neuroprosthetic devices.

Neurotherapeutics. 2008 Jan;5(1):137-46

Authors: Patil PG, Turner DA

The development of brain-machine interface technology is a logical next step in the overall direction of neuroprosthetics. Many of the required technological advances that will be required for clinical translation of brain-machine interfaces are already under development, including a new generation of recording electrodes, the decoding and interpretation of signals underlying intention and planning, actuators for implementation of mental plans in virtual or real contexts, direct somatosensory feedback to the nervous system to refine actions, and training to encourage plasticity in neural circuits. Although pre-clinical studies in nonhuman primates demonstrate high efficacy in a realistic motor task with motor cortical recordings, there are many challenges in the clinical translation of even simple tasks and devices. Foremost among these challenges is the development of biocompatible electrodes capable of long-term, stable recording of brain activity and implantable amplifiers and signal processors that are sufficiently resistant to noise and artifact to faithfully transmit recorded signals to the external environment. Whether there is a suitable market for such new technology depends on its efficacy in restoring and enhancing neural function, its risks of implantation, and its long-term efficacy and usefulness. Now is a critical time in brain-machine interface development because most ongoing studies are science-based and noncommercial, allowing new approaches to be included in commercial schemes under development.

Apr 02, 2008

Studying and Treating Schizophrenia Using Virtual Reality

Studying and Treating Schizophrenia Using Virtual Reality: A New Paradigm.

Schizophr Bull. 2008 Mar 28;

Authors: Freeman D

Understanding schizophrenia requires consideration of patients' interactions in the social world. Misinterpretation of other peoples' behavior is a key feature of persecutory ideation. The occurrence and intensity of hallucinations is affected by the social context. Negative symptoms such as anhedonia, asociality, and blunted affect reflect difficulties in social interactions. Withdrawal and avoidance of other people is frequent in schizophrenia, leading to isolation and rumination. The use of virtual reality (VR)-interactive immersive computer environments-allows one of the key variables in understanding psychosis, social environments, to be controlled, providing exciting applications to research and treatment. Seven applications of virtual social environments to schizophrenia are set out: symptom assessment, identification of symptom markers, establishment of predictive factors, tests of putative causal factors, investigation of the differential prediction of symptoms, determination of toxic elements in the environment, and development of treatment. The initial VR studies of persecutory ideation, which illustrate the ascription of personalities and mental states to virtual people, are highlighted. VR, suitably applied, holds great promise in furthering the understanding and treatment of psychosis.