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Nov 22, 2008

Minority Report Interface - G-Speak

this gestural-controlled display by G-Speak is the closest to Minority Report I have seen so far. The system consists of a DLP projector and is equipped with special gloves that incorporate reflective markers

take a look at this impressive video

Electronically enhanced sewing machine

Via Info Aesthetics


An electronically enhanced sewing machine [soundsbutter.com], able to represent sound through the height of the stitches it creates. The resulting stitch pattern thus becomes visually similar to an equalizer timeline. Unfortunately, currently a non-working prototype only.

Motor Representations and Practice Affect Brain Systems Underlying Imagery: An fMRI Study

Motor Representations and Practice Affect Brain Systems Underlying Imagery: An fMRI Study of Internal Imagery in Novices and Active High Jumpers.

Open Neuroimag J. 2008;2:5-13

Authors: Olsson CJ, Jonsson B, Larsson A, Nyberg L

This study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate differences in brain activity between one group of active high jumpers and one group of high jumping novices (controls) when performing motor imagery of a high jump. It was also investigated how internal imagery training affects neural activity. The results showed that active high jumpers primarily activated motor areas, e.g. pre-motor cortex and cerebellum. Novices activated visual areas, e.g. superior occipital cortex. Imagery training resulted in a reduction of activity in parietal cortex. These results indicate that in order to use an internal perspective during motor imagery of a complex skill, one must have well established motor representations of the skill which then translates into a motor/internal pattern of brain activity. If not, an external perspective will be used and the corresponding brain activation will be a visual/external pattern. Moreover, the findings imply that imagery training reduces the activity in parietal cortex suggesting that imagery is performed more automatic and results in a more efficient motor representation more easily accessed during motor performance.

Nov 12, 2008

Mindfulness meditation reveals distinct neural modes of self-reference

Attending to the present: mindfulness meditation reveals distinct neural modes of self-reference.

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci.
2007 Dec;2(4):313-322

Authors: Farb NA, Segal ZV, Mayberg H, Bean J, McKeon D, Fatima Z, Anderson AK

It has long been theorised that there are two temporally distinct forms of self-reference: extended self-reference linking experiences across time, and momentary self-reference centred on the present. To characterise these two aspects of awareness, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine monitoring of enduring traits ('narrative' focus, NF) or momentary experience ('experiential' focus, EF) in both novice participants and those having attended an 8 week course in mindfulness meditation, a program that trains individuals to develop focused attention on the present. In novices, EF yielded focal reductions in self-referential cortical midline regions (medial prefrontal cortex, mPFC) associated with NF. In trained participants, EF resulted in more marked and pervasive reductions in the mPFC, and increased engagement of a right lateralised network, comprising the lateral PFC and viscerosomatic areas such as the insula, secondary somatosensory cortex and inferior parietal lobule. Functional connectivity analyses further demonstrated a strong coupling between the right insula and the mPFC in novices that was uncoupled in the mindfulness group. These results suggest a fundamental neural dissociation between two distinct forms of self-awareness that are habitually integrated but can be dissociated through attentional training: the self across time and in the present moment.

20:56 Posted in Meditation & brain | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: meditation

Nov 05, 2008

HSI ’09: Special Session on Positive Technology

I have been invited to organize a special session on Positive Technology at the 2nd IEEE Conference on Human System Interactions (May 21-23, 2009 University of Catania, Italy).

This will be a great opportunity for interested researchers and developers to explore common ground, share current experiences and discuss future developments of this emerging research field.

Below is the session abstract (the full call for papers can be is available here):

Information and communication technologies are becoming more ubiquitous and pervasive, shaping the ways we communicate, collaborate and make new relationships. However, the massive proliferation of digital devices and services raises an important question: are computers making us happy? Are new technologies actually improving the quality of our life, by enhancing our opportunities for growth and self-expression, making us feel safer and more connected? Are they rather enhancing automation, constraints on personal initiative, and compulsive consumption of information?

The recent and growing interest towards these issues is paving the way for a new research area, called “Positive Technology”. The main objective of this approach is the identification of design principles for computer-based applications and services that promote positive growth at the individual, social and cultural levels.

Interdisciplinary in nature, Positive Technology lies at the intersection of three fields: Positive Psychology, Interaction Design and Cognitive Neuroscience.

- Positive Psychology is a discipline whose broad goals are to understand the human strengths and virtues, and to promote these strengths to allow individuals, communities, and societies to flourish. In its current conception, Positive Psychology has three levels of analysis: the subjective, the individual and the group. The subjective level is concerned with people positive subjective experiences (i.e. life satisfaction, positive emotions, optimism). The individual level focuses on positive personality traits, which include among others: courage, wisdom, perseverance, creativity, interpersonal skills, spirituality and high talent. Finally, the group level of analysis explores the civic virtues and institutions such as civility, responsibility, altruism, nurturance, tolerance and work ethics, which promote better citizenship.

- Interaction design focuses on the development of interfaces that are easy and enjoyable to use. The incorporation of positive psychology principles in the ID process should allow the development of novel interaction models, which are able to promote positive aspects of user’s behaviour, such as curiosity and creativity, as well as fostering positive emotions and deep engagement

- Cognitive neuroscience the contribution of this discipline to Positive Technology is three-fold: a) to identify the neural underpinnings of positive emotions, and discover the long-lasting effects of optimal experiences on brain processes; b) to examine the neuropsychological correlates of users’ satisfaction, the most used dependent variable in HCI research (as well as the hardest to measure); c) to identify strategies and mechanisms (i.e. neurogenesis and neuroplasticity) that promote an efficient use of brain resources.


- Computer-based interventions for well-being
- Role of positive affect and happiness in HCI
- Information technology effects on well-being
- Technology-based applications and services for stress management
- Models of optimal experience in HCI
- Designing for creativity and self-improvement
- Spirituality and computing
- Cognitive enhancement/assisted cognition
- Web 2.0 and positive social change

Andrea Gaggioli Faculty of Psychology, Catholic University of Milan
Giuseppe Riva Faculty of Psychology, Catholic University of Milan

Deadline for submission: January 09, 2009
Notification of papers acceptance: February 09, 2009
Final manuscripts due: April 06, 2009

Exit reality

ExitReality’s is a new 3D web service that will create virtual versions of every social network site profile.

The London startup has now officially launched its beta. The free Internet plug-in allowing the 3d experience can be downloaded here.


ExitReality turns standard 2D web pages into unique 3D spaces

23:38 Posted in Virtual worlds | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: virtual worlds

Nov 04, 2008

Brain Controlled Cell Phones

Via Textually.org

NeuroSky Inc, a venture company based in San Jose, Calif, prototyped a system that reads brain waves with a sensor and uses them for mobile phone applications.









Software algorithms try to deduce from your brainwaves what you are thinking and pass on the appropriate commands to the cell phone.


Textual emotion recognition and visualization

From InfoAesthetics


a textual emotion recognition & visualization engine based on the concept of synesthesia , or in other words: "code that feels the words visually". the synesketch application is able to dynamically transfer the text into animated visual patterns.

the emotional parameters are based on a WordNet-based lexicon of words with their general & specific emotional weights, for the emotion types happiness, sadness, fear, anger, disgust, surprise. the visualization is based on a generative painting system of imaginary colliding particles. colors & shapes of these patterns depend on the type and intensity of interpreted textual emotions.

Europe’s economic weather forecast

Cool infoviz services, in times of global financial crisis

Check it out:


Nov 03, 2008

Feeling present in arousing virtual reality worlds

Feeling present in arousing virtual reality worlds: prefrontal brain regions differentially orchestrate presence experience in adults and children.

Front Hum Neurosci. 2008;2:8

Authors: Baumgartner T, Speck D, Wettstein D, Masnari O, Beeli G, Jäncke L

Virtual reality (VR) is a powerful tool for simulating aspects of the real world. The success of VR is thought to depend on its ability to evoke a sense of "being there", that is, the feeling of "Presence". In view of the rapid progress in the development of increasingly more sophisticated virtual environments (VE), the importance of understanding the neural underpinnings of presence is growing. To date however, the neural correlates of this phenomenon have received very scant attention. An fMRI-based study with 52 adults and 25 children was therefore conducted using a highly immersive VE. The experience of presence in adult subjects was found to be modulated by two major strategies involving two homologous prefrontal brain structures. Whereas the right DLPFC controlled the sense of presence by down-regulating the activation in the egocentric dorsal visual processing stream, the left DLPFC up-regulated widespread areas of the medial prefrontal cortex known to be involved in self-reflective and stimulus-independent thoughts. In contrast, there was no evidence of these two strategies in children. In fact, anatomical analyses showed that these two prefrontal areas have not yet reached full maturity in children. Taken together, this study presents the first findings that show activation of a highly specific neural network orchestrating the experience of presence in adult subjects, and that the absence of activity in this neural network might contribute to the generally increased susceptibility of children for the experience of presence in VEs.

Circadian Modulation of Mentally Simulated Motor Actions

Circadian Modulation of Mentally Simulated Motor Actions: Implications for the Potential Use of Motor Imagery in Rehabilitation.

Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2008 Oct 30;

Authors: Gueugneau N, Mauvieux B, Papaxanthis C

BACKGROUND: . Mental practice through motor imagery improves subsequent motor performance and thus mental training is considered to be a potential tool in neuromotor rehabilitation. OBJECTIVE: . The authors investigated whether a circadian fluctuation of the motor imagery process occurs, which could be relevant in scheduling mental training in rehabilitation programs. METHODS: . The executed and imagined durations of walking and writing movements were recorded every 3 hours from 8 am to 11 pm in healthy participants. The authors made a cosinor analysis on the temporal features of these movements to detect circadian rhythms. Temporal differences between executed and imagined movements as well as their variability during the day were also quantified. RESULTS: . Circadian rhythms were detected for both the executed and the imagined movements. Furthermore, these rhythms covaried between them and with body temperature. The participants' ability to internally simulate their movements also fluctuated significantly during the day. The isochrony between the executed and the imagined movements was exclusively observed between 2 pm and 8 pm. In the morning (8 am and 11 am) and the evening (11 pm), the durations of the imagined movements were significantly longer than the durations of executed movements. CONCLUSIONS: . Predictive internal models fluctuate in a circadian basis, as do many other physiological parameters. It could be important to take into consideration the time of day in the planning of rehabilitation programs using physical or mental training.

Open hearts build lives

Open hearts build lives: positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources.

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2008 Nov;95(5):1045-62

Authors: Fredrickson BL, Cohn MA, Coffey KA, Pek J, Finkel SM

B. L. Fredrickson's (1998, 2001) broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions asserts that people's daily experiences of positive emotions compound over time to build a variety of consequential personal resources. The authors tested this build hypothesis in a field experiment with working adults (n = 139), half of whom were randomly-assigned to begin a practice of loving-kindness meditation. Results showed that this meditation practice produced increases over time in daily experiences of positive emotions, which, in turn, produced increases in a wide range of personal resources (e.g., increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, decreased illness symptoms). In turn, these increments in personal resources predicted increased life satisfaction and reduced depressive symptoms. Discussion centers on how positive emotions are the mechanism of change for the type of mind-training practice studied here and how loving-kindness meditation is an intervention strategy that produces positive emotions in a way that outpaces the hedonic treadmill effect.

A pilot study of meditation for mental health workers following Hurricane Katrina

A pilot study of meditation for mental health workers following Hurricane Katrina.

J Trauma Stress. 2008 Oct 27;21(5):497-500

Authors: Waelde LC, Uddo M, Marquett R, Ropelato M, Freightman S, Pardo A, Salazar J

This pilot study examined the effects of a manualized meditation intervention (called Inner Resources) for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety symptoms among 20 African American and Caucasian mental health workers in New Orleans beginning 10 weeks after Hurricane Katrina. They participated in a 4-hour workshop followed by an 8-week home study program. Complete follow-up data were available for 15 participants. Results of intention-to-treat analyses indicated that participants' PTSD and anxiety symptoms significantly decreased over the 8 weeks of the intervention; these improvements were significantly correlated with the total number of minutes of daily meditation practice. The majority of participants reported good treatment adherence and improvements in well-being. These findings suggest that meditation may be a feasible, acceptable, and effective postdisaster intervention.