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Sep 29, 2009

Science 2.0 on Linkedin: 100+ members and growing

Science 2.0

Science 2.0 professional group on Linkedin last week welcomed our 100th member.

If you are willing to know a bit more about how wikis, blogs and other collaborative web technologies are re-shaping research, and connect with interested scientists worldwide, join us here for membership!

Sep 28, 2009

Bionic Eye - Augmented Reality on the iPhone

Bionic Eye is the first augmented reality application developed for the iPhone 3GS. A brainchild of Dutch start-up Layar, Bionic Eye enables you to visualize Points of Interest (POI) located in your nearby environment in the US.

POI databases include restaurants, WiFi hotspots, subway stations (New York Subway, Washington Metro, Chicago L Rapid Transit), etc. Over 100.000 POI are already included in this application. Elements located at a distance less than 1km (0,621miles) only will be displayed on the screen.

Download link



Sep 25, 2009

Miruko Eyeball Robotic Eye

Via Pink Tentacle

Miruko is a camera robot in the shape of an eyeball capable of tracking objects and faces. Worn on the player’s sleeve, Miruko’s roving eye scans the surroundings in search of virtual monsters that are invisible to the naked human eye. When a virtual monster is spotted, the mechanical eyeball rolls around in its socket and fixes its gaze on the monster’s location. By following Miruko’s line of sight, the player is able to locate the virtual monster and “capture” it via his or her iPhone camera.

In this video, Miruko’s creators demonstrate how the robotic eyeball can be used as an interface for a virtual monster-hunting game played in a real-world environment.



According to its creators, Miruko can be used for augmented reality games, security, and navigation.

Sep 21, 2009

Nokia Mixed Reality gadgets

Cool video by Nokia Future Tech lab on the next generation of Mixed Reality gadgets.. gaze-tracking eyewear that allows browsing and selecting with your eyes; 3-D audio to find and hear spatialized sounds... and more.

check it out:


HAL: New assistive walking device

Japanese company Cyberdyne, with the scientific support provided by Professor Sankai of Tsukuba University, have developed the Hybrid Assistive Limb - HAL - a device designed to help people walk or carry heavy loads. The assistive walking system weights 10 kilogram and has a battery at the back. Embedded sensors collects electric signals that are delivered to the brain through the skin surface. Thanks to these sensors, the system can help users to move in the direction they are thinking. The walking speed is 1.8 km p/h.

Watch the HAL in action in this video:

17:10 Posted in AI & robotics | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: robotics

Driving dreams: cortical activations during imagined passive and active whole body movemen

Driving dreams: cortical activations during imagined passive and active whole body movement.

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 May;1164:372-5

Authors: Flanagin VL, Wutte M, Glasauer S, Jahn K

It is unclear how subjects perceive and process self-motion cues in virtual reality environments. Movement could be perceived as passive, akin to riding in a car, or active, such as walking down the street. These two very different types of self-motion were studied here using motor imagery in fMRI. In addition, the relative importance of visual and proprioceptive training cues was examined. Stronger activations were found during proprioceptive motor imagery compared with visual motor imagery, suggesting that proprioceptive signals are important for successful imagined movement. No significant activations were found during active movement with proprioceptive training. Passive locomotion, however, was correlated with activity in an occipital-parietal and parahippocampal cortical network, which are the same regions found during navigation with virtual reality stimuli.

Reactivity to cannabis cues in virtual reality environments

Reactivity to cannabis cues in virtual reality environments.

J Psychoactive Drugs. 2009 Jun;41(2):105-12

Authors: Bordnick PS, Copp HL, Traylor A, Graap KM, Carter BL, Walton A, Ferrer M

Virtual reality (VR) cue environments have been developed and successfully tested in nicotine, cocaine, and alcohol abusers. Aims in the current article include the development and testing of a novel VR cannabis cue reactivity assessment system. It was hypothesized that subjective craving levels and attention to cannabis cues would be higher in VR environments with cannabis cues compared to VR neutral environments. Twenty nontreatment-seeking current cannabis smokers participated in the VR cue trial. During the VR cue trial, participants were exposed to four virtual environments that contained audio, visual, olfactory, and vibrotactile sensory stimuli. Two VR environments contained cannabis cues that consisted of a party room in which people were smoking cannabis and a room containing cannabis paraphernalia without people. Two VR neutral rooms without cannabis cues consisted of a digital art gallery with nature videos. Subjective craving and attention to cues were significantly higher in the VR cannabis environments compared to the VR neutral environments. These findings indicate that VR cannabis cue reactivity may offer a new technology-based method to advance addiction research and treatment.

The sensitivity of a virtual reality task to planning and prospective memory impairments

The sensitivity of a virtual reality task to planning and prospective memory impairments: Group differences and the efficacy of periodic alerts on performance.

Neuropsychol Rehabil. 2009 Aug 26;:1-25

Authors: Sweeney S, Kersel D, Morris RG, Manly T, Evans JJ

Executive functions have been argued to be the most vulnerable to brain injury. In providing an analogue of everyday situations amenable to control and management virtual reality (VR) may offer better insights into planning deficits consequent upon brain injury. Here 17 participants with a non-progressive brain injury and reported executive difficulties in everyday life were asked to perform a VR task (working in a furniture storage unit) that emphasised planning, rule following and prospective memory tasks. When compared with an age and IQ-matched control group, the patients were significantly poorer in terms of their strategy, their time-based prospective memory, the overall time required and their propensity to break rules. An examination of sensitivity and specificity of the VR task to group membership (brain-injured or control) showed that, with specificity set at maximum, sensitivity was only modest (at just over 50%). A second component to the study investigated whether the patients' performance could be improved by periodic auditory alerts. Previous studies have demonstrated that such cues can improve performance on laboratory tests, executive tests and everyday prospective memory tasks. Here, no significant changes in performance were detected. Potential reasons for this finding are discussed, including symptom severity and differences in the tasks employed in previous studies.

Increased personal space of patients with schizophrenia in a virtual social environment

Increased personal space of patients with schizophrenia in a virtual social environment.

Psychiatry Res. 2009 Sep 15;

Authors: Park SH, Ku J, Kim JJ, Jang HJ, Kim SY, Kim SH, Kim CH, Lee H, Kim IY, Kim SI

Virtual reality may be a good alternative method for measuring personal space and overcoming some limitations in previous studies on the social aspects of schizophrenia. Using this technology, we aimed to investigate the characteristics of personal space in patients with schizophrenia and evaluate the relationship between their social behaviors and schizophrenic symptoms. The distance from a virtual person and the angle of head orientation while talking to a virtual person in a virtual environment were measured in 30 patients with schizophrenia and 30 normal controls. It was found that patients with schizophrenia had longer distances and larger angles than did normal controls. The severity of the negative syndrome had significant inverse correlations with the distance from the angry and neutral virtual persons and with the angle of head orientation toward the happy and angry virtual persons, suggesting that negative symptoms may have a close relationship with personal space, including distancing and eye gaze. The larger personal space of patients may reflect their discomfort in close situations or cognitive deficits. Showing these profiles to patients could help them realize the amount of personal space they need.

The use of biofeedback in clinical virtual reality: the intrepid project

The use of biofeedback in clinical virtual reality: the intrepid project.

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2009;144:128-32

Authors: Repetto C, Gorini A, Algeri D, Vigna C, Gaggioli A, Riva G

In our protocol for the treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorders we use Virtual reality (VR) to facilitate emotional regulation and the relaxation process. Using a biofeedback biomonitoring system (GSR, HR, Thermal) the patient is made aware of his or her reactions through the modification of some features of the VR environment in real time. Using mental exercises the patient learns to control these physiological parameters and using the feedback provided by the virtual environment is able to gauge his or her success. To test this concept, we planned a randomized controlled trial (NCT00602212), including three groups of 15 patients each (for a total of 45 patients): (1) the VR group, (2) the non-VR group, and (3) the waiting list (WL) group.

Neurofeedback-based motor imagery training for brain-computer interface

Neurofeedback-based motor imagery training for brain-computer interface (BCI).

J Neurosci Methods. 2009 Apr 30;179(1):150-6

Authors: Hwang HJ, Kwon K, Im CH

In the present study, we propose a neurofeedback-based motor imagery training system for EEG-based brain-computer interface (BCI). The proposed system can help individuals get the feel of motor imagery by presenting them with real-time brain activation maps on their cortex. Ten healthy participants took part in our experiment, half of whom were trained by the suggested training system and the others did not use any training. All participants in the trained group succeeded in performing motor imagery after a series of trials to activate their motor cortex without any physical movements of their limbs. To confirm the effect of the suggested system, we recorded EEG signals for the trained group around sensorimotor cortex while they were imagining either left or right hand movements according to our experimental design, before and after the motor imagery training. For the control group, we also recorded EEG signals twice without any training sessions. The participants' intentions were then classified using a time-frequency analysis technique, and the results of the trained group showed significant differences in the sensorimotor rhythms between the signals recorded before and after training. Classification accuracy was also enhanced considerably in all participants after motor imagery training, compared to the accuracy before training. On the other hand, the analysis results for the control EEG data set did not show consistent increment in both the number of meaningful time-frequency combinations and the classification accuracy, demonstrating that the suggested system can be used as a tool for training motor imagery tasks in BCI applications. Further, we expect that the motor imagery training system will be useful not only for BCI applications, but for functional brain mapping studies that utilize motor imagery tasks as well.

Neurofeedback and brain-computer interface clinical applications

Neurofeedback and brain-computer interface clinical applications.

Int Rev Neurobiol. 2009;86:107-17

Authors: Birbaumer N, Ramos Murguialday A, Weber C, Montoya P

Most of the research devoted to BMI development consists of methodological studies comparing different online mathematical algorithms, ranging from simple linear discriminant analysis (LDA) (Dornhege et al., 2007) to nonlinear artificial neural networks (ANNs) or support vector machine (SVM) classification. Single cell spiking for the reconstruction of hand movements requires different statistical solutions than electroencephalography (EEG)-rhythm classification for communication. In general, the algorithm for BMI applications is computationally simple and differences in classification accuracy between algorithms used for a particular purpose are small. Only a very limited number of clinical studies with neurological patients are available, most of them single case studies. The clinical target populations for BMI-treatment consist primarily of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and severe CNS damage including spinal cord injuries and stroke resulting in substantial deficits in communication and motor function. However, an extensive body of literature started in the 1970s using neurofeedback training. Such training implemented to control various EEG-measures provided solid evidence of positive effects in patients with otherwise pharmacologically intractable epilepsy, attention deficit disorder, and hyperactivity ADHD. More recently, the successful introduction and testing of real-time fMRI and a NIRS-BMI opened an exciting field of interest in patients with psychopathological conditions.

Is neurofeedback an efficacious treatment for ADHD? A randomised controlled clinical trial

Is neurofeedback an efficacious treatment for ADHD? A randomised controlled clinical trial.

J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2009 Jul;50(7):780-9

Authors: Gevensleben H, Holl B, Albrecht B, Vogel C, Schlamp D, Kratz O, Studer P, Rothenberger A, Moll GH, Heinrich H

BACKGROUND: For children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a reduction of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity by neurofeedback (NF) has been reported in several studies. But so far, unspecific training effects have not been adequately controlled for and/or studies do not provide sufficient statistical power. To overcome these methodological shortcomings we evaluated the clinical efficacy of neurofeedback in children with ADHD in a multisite randomised controlled study using a computerised attention skills training as a control condition. METHODS: 102 children with ADHD, aged 8 to 12 years, participated in the study. Children performed either 36 sessions of NF training or a computerised attention skills training within two blocks of about four weeks each (randomised group assignment). The combined NF treatment consisted of one block of theta/beta training and one block of slow cortical potential (SCP) training. Pre-training, intermediate and post-training assessment encompassed several behaviour rating scales (e.g., the German ADHD rating scale, FBB-HKS) completed by parents and teachers. Evaluation ('placebo') scales were applied to control for parental expectations and satisfaction with the treatment. RESULTS: For parent and teacher ratings, improvements in the NF group were superior to those of the control group. For the parent-rated FBB-HKS total score (primary outcome measure), the effect size was .60. Comparable effects were obtained for the two NF protocols (theta/beta training, SCP training). Parental attitude towards the treatment did not differ between NF and control group. CONCLUSIONS: Superiority of the combined NF training indicates clinical efficacy of NF in children with ADHD. Future studies should further address the specificity of effects and how to optimise the benefit of NF as treatment module for ADHD.