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Mar 21, 2006

Time Magazine: how digital juggling is affecting kids' brains

Via Smart Mobs

Time Magazine's cover story this week is on kids' multitasking skills and what all that digital juggling is doing to their brains and family life.

There is no doubt that the phenomenon has reached a kind of warp speed in the era of Web-enabled computers, when it has become routine to conduct six IM conversations, watch American Idol on TV and Google the names of last season's finalists all at once.
... Although multitasking kids may be better prepared in some ways for today's frenzied workplace, many cognitive scientists are positively alarmed by the trend. "Kids that are instant messaging while doing homework, playing games online and watching TV, I predict, aren't going to do well in the long run," says Jordan Grafman, chief of the cognitive neuroscience section at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. On the positive side, Gen M students tend to be extraordinarily good at finding and manipulating information. And presumably because modern childhood tilts toward visual rather than print media, they are especially skilled at analyzing visual data and images, observes Claudia Koonz, professor of history at Duke University.

Mar 20, 2006

Synthetic character trains medical students

Researchers at RTI International have developed a virtual reality training simulation that allows users to practice responding to some of the most common participant questions relating to informed consent. The simulation was tested in the Medical Cognition Laboratory at Duke University. 
Participants, 24 undergraduate students at Duke University, were trained by the synthetic character (a female in her 30s). Findings showed that after training, these students better comprehended the interviewee’s questions, responded more appropriately and were more likely to obtain cooperation from the interviewee than than a control group of participants who only studied written materials, as is standard practice. The study was published in this month’s online edition of the Journal of Biomedical Informatics.

Positive Psychology Award from John Templeton Foundation

Via the APA Monitor 

The John Templeton Foundation seeks applications for the eighth annual Martin E.P. Seligman Award for Outstanding Dissertation Research in Positive Psychology. The prize awards $1,000 to a scholar who has completed a PhD dissertation in any area of positive psychology research and who plans to continue research in this area. Candidates must have completed their dissertation after March 30, 2003.

The award also includes travel to and one day’s lodging and expenses for the 2006 Positive Psychology Summit, Oct. 6–8, in Washington, D.C., where the award will be presented.

To apply, candidates should send six copies of both their curriculum vitae and a summary of their dissertation research. The summary—limited to no more than eight pages, including tables and figures, but excluding references—should contain:

• A description of the problem investigated.

• An explanation of the methods.

• A summary of the findings.

• A discussion of the significance of the findings in relation to positive psychology.

• An outline of how the work might be continued.

A selection committee, chaired by Kennon M. Sheldon, PhD, of the University of Missouri–Columbia, will determine three finalists by June 1. Finalists will then submit a copy of their completed dissertations for review.

Materials must be postmarked no later than April 15. Send them to Communications Department, John Templeton Foundation, 300 Conshohocken State Road, Suite 500, West Conshohocken, PA 19428.

WMMNA: Instant Feeling Messages

[posted By Regine on WMMNA]

emosive is a service for mobile devices which allows capturing, storing and sharing of fleeting emotional experiences. Based on the Cognitive PrimingGo theory, as we become more immersed in digital media through our mobile devices, our personal media inventories constantly act as memory aids, "priming" us to better recollect associative, personal (episodic) memories when facing an external stimulus. Being mobile and in a dynamic environment, these recollections are moving, both emotionally and quickly away from us. emosive bundles text, sound and image animation to allow capturing these fleeting emotional experiences, then sharing and reliving them with cared others. emosive proposes a new format of instant messages, dubbed IFM – Instant Feeling Messages.


Have a look at the demo, it's a Flash application developed using FlickrFling and live data.

User scenario
While walking in the park and listening to a verse from his and his girlfriend Tina’s favorite tune – Madonna’s Little Star (“Never forget how to dream, Butterfly”), Jake sees a butterfly on a flower. Primed by the romantic musical immersion, Jake notices the colors of the butterfly and immediately loads a memory of Tina’s same-colored summer dress. Jake quickly clicks the emosive shortcut key sequence on his device. He snaps a photo of the butterfly and tags the image as "Butterfly". As Jack walks around the city, he captures other fleeting moments, making sure they are tagged to correspond with lyric words. He even adds some tagged images from his Flickr account. He then "wraps" everything as an IFM, previews it and sends it to Tina. When Tina accepts the IFM, it will stream to her phone and synchronize the tune and the images, based on the tagged lyric words. The stored IFM can also be viewed effectively as an emosive experience from any web-enabled browser.

The emosive (formerly e:sense) project was developed by the design team of the Designs Which Create Design workshop, held at the University Institute of Architecture of Venice (IUAV) 2006.

Branding the brain

via Sci-Con

Researchers from the University of Michigan and Harvard University have used fMRI to find out which brain areas are activated by specific qualities of brands and products. The study, forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Research, is the first to use fMRI to assess consumer perceptions and has important implications for the use of metaphorical human-like traits in branding.

Mar 19, 2006

Brains are gorgeous at the right magnification

Via Neurofuture

Mark Miller's photographs of the brain show that even neurons can become spectacular pieces of art at the right scale. In particular, this photo (depicting red retrobeads from the pyramidal tract merged with a blue fluoroNisal counterstain)








reminds me of an artpiece of Italian artists Bianco-Valente, whose work focuses on the invisible co-evolution between natural and artificial, between biological and technological networks:

14:05 Posted in Cyberart | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: Positive Technology

Mar 18, 2006

Virtual clay

Via Transmaterial 


Researchers at Buffalo's Virtual Reality Lab have developed a virtual sculpting system that replicates in real time the physical act of sculpting a block of clay. A special glove records the force exerted by the hand in manipulating and shaping a block of clay. Force-feedback, hand position, and speed of fingertip motion are communicated to a computer, where the virtual clay is shaped precisely to the contouring of the actual clay.


[the author of this articke is Régine Debatty, we-make-money-not-art]


Acclair, by Luther Thie and Eyal Fried, is a security and neuromarketing service that points to Acclairism, a new form of discrimination based on the individual's bio-data and membership in an "acclaired" elite.

The project creates a "social fiction" to explore a situation wherein people willingly accept a highly invasive, highly authoritative manipulation in return for tangible rewards and social status. Acclair is a fictional company providing brain-testing services as part of an accelerated security clearance for air-travelers with its use of Brain Fingerprinting technology (BFP).

Before departure, the Acclair member goes through a one-minute brain test in a relaxing environment. His/her brain output is used for security clearance, and then sold to marketing entities interested in his consumerist personality. According to his brain's market value, the Acclair member is rewarded with Capitality credit points that enable meaningful capital benefits and "Amnesty" credit points that provide legal pardons for applicable past offenses.

Acclairism is an attempt to bring to light some of the conflicts and questions brought about by biometric technologies: What defines us as unique individuals? What defines us as trusted members of society? How much personal information will we willingly give away and under which circumstances?

Part of ISEA 2006, San José, this summer

Mar 17, 2006

Are game designers discarding heads-up displays?

Via Wired

Some game designers are discarding "heads-up displays," trying to create a more immersive environment by providing game data such as a player's health and ammo levels using subtler hints that are truer to life. Big mistake, according to Clive Thompson:

I let fly with a flurry of jabs, then lean in and deliver a sneaky uppercut. It connects perfectly -- I can hear the moist thwack of my boxing glove on my opponent's cheek. When he staggers back to his corner of the boxing ring, I admire my handiwork: Swollen eyes, drooling crimson -- it's like something Picasso might have painted if he worked with blood. I can tell that one more barrage is gonna win me the round.

And the thing is, I don't need to look at a "health bar" floating over my opponent to see he's nearly vanquished. Indeed, in this Xbox 360 version of Fight Night Round 3 there is no "heads-up display," or HUD, at all. Most action games rely on such an omnipresent overlay, floating on screen and showing how much ammo or health you've got left. But with Fight Night, you just have to pay close attention to the acoustic and visual cues -- the increasingly sluggish attacks of your fighter, the fatigue written on his face...

Continue to read the full article

20th International Symposium on Human Factors in Telecommunication

Via the IST Research website 
Sophia Antipolis, France
The International Symposia on "Human Factors in Telecommunication" (HFT) are organized every second year to provide a forum for Human Factors experts to exchange information, views and experiences in research and the application of excellent Human Factors / human-machine interaction principles in telecommunication and in information & communication technology equipment and services. The participating experts come from telecommunication administrations, service providers and manufacturers, and from related research and development organizations. Papers and posters should encourage open discussion of Human Factors and customer experience issues. The event also hosts two workshops : "User education and setup guidelines for mobile terminals and e-services" and "Enabling the delivery of localized information and communication services".
Visit the conference website 

Kino 3D



Kino 3D is a forum (in Italian) about open-source computer graphics. It includes several sections:

- Discussion on 2D and 3D computer graphics and open source for any platform;

- OpenLab: Experiments, work in progress, prototypes;

- Tutorial about Blender (the open source, cross platform suite of tools for 3D creation);

- Discussion about video, animations, and 2D/3D videogames;

- Off topics;

- A link to the international Blender forum;

The forum is an useul resource for professionals and people interested in knowing more about the world of open-source computer graphics.

USA Today: computer games and neurofeedback as a treatment

Via Mind Hacks

USA Today has an article about the use of computer games and neurofeedback as a treatment:

Whether speeding down a virtual street in Sony's Gran Turismo or slaying Spyro the Dragon, researchers hope games such as these will improve the lives of those with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, commonly known as ADHD, or cognitive-processing difficulties.

People with these disorders experience "constant frustration," says Henry Owens, a Melbourne, Fla., clinical psychologist who recently began offering a patented video game system, which evolved from NASA technology, to some of his patients.

"If they just play video games on their own, they will zone out," he says. "When they play on this system, if they zone out, the video game doesn't respond any more," acting as an incentive to improve focus and concentration.


Mar 16, 2006

4th Congress on Applications of Virtual Reality (CARVI 2006)




The 4th Congress on Applications of Virtual Reality (CARVI 2006) will be held on 15-16 June in Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain) and organized by EUVE Technological Center specialised in Virtual Reality, Television, Virtual Engineering and Meteorology. The Conference is aimed at architecture, urban planning, reconstruction of cultural heritage, civil works, engineering, television, advertising, institutions.

Visit the conference web site for more information

Meditation States and Traits

Meditation States and Traits: EEG, ERP, and Neuroimaging Studies

Psychol Bull. 2006 Mar;132(2):180-211

Authors: Cahn BR, Polich J

Neuroelectric and imaging studies of meditation are reviewed. Electroencephalographic measures indicate an overall slowing subsequent to meditation, with theta and alpha activation related to proficiency of practice. Sensory evoked potential assessment of concentrative meditation yields amplitude and latency changes for some components and practices. Cognitive event-related potential evaluation of meditation implies that practice changes attentional allocation. Neuroimaging studies indicate increased regional cerebral blood flow measures during meditation. Taken together, meditation appears to reflect changes in anterior cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal areas. Neurophysiological meditative state and trait effects are variable but are beginning to demonstrate consistent outcomes for research and clinical applications. Psychological and clinical effects of meditation are summarized, integrated, and discussed with respect to neuroimaging data. ((c) 2006 APA, all rights


Via Pink Tentacle 

KOTOHANA is a flower-shaped terminal which allows to remotely communicate human emotions using LED light. LEDs change color according to the emotions felt by the remote person. Emotional state of the remote person is inferred by analysing affective correlates of voice; results of the analysis are sent via wireless LAN to the other terminal, where it is expressed as LED light. KOTOHANA is a joint project of NEC, NEC Design and SGI Japan

A visual exploration on mapping complex networks

Posted by Luis on Networked Perfomance

VisualComplexity.com intends to be a unified resource space for anyone interested in the visualization of complex networks. The project's main goal is to leverage a critical understanding of different visualization methods, across a series of disciplines, as diverse as Biology, Social Networks or the World Wide Web.


1st International Conference on Interactive Mobile and Computer aided Learning

19-21 April 2006, Princess Sumaya University of Technology Amman, Jordan

The conference aims to promote the development of Mobile Learning in the Middle East, provide a forum for education and knowledge transfer and encourage the study and implementation of mobile applications in teaching and learning. The conference will also present an opportunity for educators to develop new skills and to stimulate critical debate on theories, approaches, principles and applications of m-learning, hence facilitate dialogue, sharing and networking between diverse cultures with regard to the optimal use of emerging technologies.
The conference will provide participants with the newest state of the art on portable devices and their role in university education and potential benefits for learning purposes. Examples of the implementation by laptops, palmtops, mobile phones, PDA, smartphones, WAPs, GPS and a navigational system, WWW-access via Bluetooth, WLAN or GPRS will be presented, accompanied by experimentations to demonstrate their coherence and feasibility.

Early Bird Fee until 31 May 2006. To register and for up-to-date information go here

Toward a Science of Consciousness 2006

From Charles T. Tart

The program for Toward a Science of Consciousness 2006, April 4-8, 2006, Tucson, Arizona has gone to press.

As usual, The Journal of Consciousness Studies will publish the indexed conference Program/Abstract book which will be available at the conference.

However the 310 accepted abstracts are now available online

Full conference program information is available at the conference website

Mar 15, 2006

Robot for the Edlerly

Via Gear Factor

Japanese researchers are developing a robot, RI-MAN, which will provide assistance to the elderly. RI-MAN is 5-foot-tall, and weights 220-pound. A layer of soft silicone allows it to lift patients into its arms. Moreover, built-in sensors detect a person's body position and weight, so the robot can figure out how best to lift them. At the moment, RI-MAN can only carry a 26-pound doll, but could be capable of lifting a 150-pound person within five years.

Wrist-mounted PC

Via Mobile Community Design

"A European embedded computing specialist has announced a wrist-worn wearable computer that runs embedded Linux or Windows CE. Eurotech's WWPC ("wrist-worn PC") offers a wealth of standard PC interfaces, along with several innovative wearable-specific features, the company claims. It targets emergency rescue, security, healthcare, maintenance, logistics, and "many other" applications."

This type of device has the potential to offer more intimate, subtle and light-touch communications than mobile phones. The fact that it touches the skin, and is easier to carry means that it will be available to the user and an extended network of users more frequently. P2P applications could automatically swap data directly between watches when people are near each other.Text input is still a worry and it's a bit bulky, but this is a technology to watch.