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Apr 07, 2006

Subjective performance in VR

Subjective performance

K. Bormann

Virtual Reality Volume 9, Number 4; Date: April 2006; Pages: 226 - 233

Much effort has gone into exploring the concept of presence in virtual environments. One of the reasons for this is the possible link between presence and performance, which has also received a fair amount of attention. However, the performance side of this equation has been largely ignored.

Supporting visually impaired children with software agents in a multimodal learning environment

Supporting visually impaired children with software agents in a multimodal learning environment

R. Saarinen, J. Järvi, R. Raisamo, E. Tuominen, M. Kangassalo, K. Peltola and J. Salo

Virtual Reality; Volume 9, Numbers 2-3; Date: March 2006; Pages: 108 - 117

Visually impaired children have a great disadvantage in the modern society since their ability to use modern computer technology is limited due to inappropriate user interfaces. The aim of the work presented in this paper was to develop a multimodal software architecture and applications to support learning of visually impaired children.

Cave Writing Workshop

From the CAVE Writing website

The Cave Writing Workshop is an advanced experimental electronic writing workshop, exploring the potential of text, sound, and narrative movement in immersive three-dimensional virtual reality. It brings together teams of undergraduate and graduate fiction writers, poets and playwrights, composers and sound engineers, graphic designers, visual artists, 3D modelers and programmers, to develop, within the environment of Brown’s “Cave” in the Technology Center for Advanced Scientific Computing and Visualization, projects that focus on the word.

Event Pic

Powered by a high-performance parallel computer, the Cave is an eight-foot cube, wherein the floor and three walls are projected with high-resolution stereo graphics to create a virtual environment, viewed through special “shutter-lens” glasses. The Cave Writing Workshop has introduced a Macintosh sound server to provide positional sound and augment the Cave’s performance potential, surrounding the “reader” with dynamic three-dimensional sound as well as visuals. It has brought text into this highly visual environment in the composing of narrative and poetic works of art, and has experimented with navigational structures more akin to narrative, and in particular hypertext narrative, than to the predominant forms of spatial exploration.

11:04 Posted in Cyberart | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: Positive Technology

Mediated social touch

Mediated social touch: a review of current research and future directions

Antal Haans and Wijnand IJsselsteijn

Virtual Reality. Issue: Volume 9, Numbers 2-3; Date: March 2006; Pages: 149 - 159


In this paper, we review research and applications in the area of mediated or remote social touch. Whereas current communication media rely predominately on vision and hearing, mediated social touch allows people to touch each other over a distance by means of haptic feedback technology.


From rdu.news14.com

More than a million people in the United States are legally blind. Many of them once had vision but tragically lost it. Now a breakthrough device could give them back some of their sight.

Event Pic

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Textually: Mobile phones linked to anxiety

From Textually 

Australians are increasingly becoming so addicted to mobile phones they are suffering anxiety and self-esteem problems akin to substance abuse, writes The Sydney Morning Herald. Excessive mobile users experience personal problems ranging from agitation if forced to turn them off...

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Video-capture virtual reality system for patients with paraplegic spinal cord injury

Video-capture virtual reality system for patients with paraplegic spinal cord injury.

J Rehabil Res Dev. 2005 Sep-Oct;42(5):595-608

Authors: Kizony R, Raz L, Katz N, Weingarden H, Weiss PL

This article presents results from a feasibility study of a video-capture virtual reality (VR) system used with patients who have paraplegic spinal cord injury (SCI) and who need balance training. The advantages of the VR system include providing the user with natural control of movements, the ability to use as many parts of the body as are deemed suitable within the context of therapeutic goals, and flexibility in the way the system can be adapted to suit specific therapeutic objectives. Thirteen participants with SCI experienced three virtual environments (VEs). Their responses to a Short Feedback Questionnaire showed high levels of presence. We compared performance in the environments with a group of 12 nondisabled participants. Response times for the patient group were significantly higher and percentage of success was significantly lower than that for the nondisabled group. In addition, significant moderate correlations were found between performance within a VE and static balance ability as measured by the Functional Reach Test. This study is a first step toward future studies aimed at determining the potential of using this VR system during the rehabilitation of patients with SCI.

Fmri investigation of Neurofeedback Training in Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Investigation of the Effects of Neurofeedback Training on the Neural Bases of Selective Attention and Response Inhibition in Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2006 Mar 22;

Authors: Beauregard M, Lévesque J

Two functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiments were undertaken to measure the effect of neurofeedback training (NFT), in AD/HD children, on the neural substrates of selective attention and response inhibition. Twenty unmedicated AD/HD children participated to these experiments. Fifteen children were randomly assigned to the Experimental (EXP) group whereas the other five children were randomly assigned to the Control (CON) group. Only subjects in the EXP group underwent NFT. EXP subjects were trained to enhance the amplitude of the SMR (12-15 Hz) and beta 1 activity (15-18 Hz), and decrease the amplitude of theta activity (4-7 Hz). Subjects from both groups were scanned one week before the beginning of NFT (Time 1) and 1 week after the end of NFT (Time 2), while they performed a "Counting Stroop" task (Experiment 1) and a Go/No-Go task (Experiment 2). At Time 1, in both groups, the Counting Stroop task was associated with significant activation in the left superior parietal lobule. For the Go/No-Go task, no significant activity was detected in the EXP and CON groups. At Time 2, in both groups, the Counting Stroop task was associated with significant activation of the left superior parietal lobule. This time, however, there were significant loci of activation, in the EXP group, in the right ACC, left caudate nucleus, and left substantia nigra. No such activation loci were seen in CON subjects. For the Go/No-Go task, significant loci of activation were noted, in the EXP group, in the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, right ACcd, left thalamus, left caudate nucleus, and left substantia nigra. No significant activation of these brain regions was measured in CON subjects. These results suggest that NFT has the capacity to functionally normalize the brain systems mediating selective attention and response inhibition in AD/HD children.

The meeting of meditative disciplines and Western psychology

The meeting of meditative disciplines and Western psychology: a mutually enriching dialogue.

Am Psychol. 2006 Apr;61(3):227-39

Authors: Walsh R, Shapiro SL

Meditation is now one of the most enduring, widespread, and researched of all psychotherapeutic methods. However, to date the meeting of the meditative disciplines and Western psychology has been marred by significant misunderstandings and by an assimilative integration in which much of the richness and uniqueness of meditation and its psychologies and philosophies have been overlooked. Also overlooked have been their major implications for an understanding of such central psychological issues as cognition and attention, mental training and development, health and pathology, and psychological capacities and potentials. Investigating meditative traditions with greater cultural and conceptual sensitivity opens the possibility of a mutual enrichment of both the meditative traditions and Western psychology, with far-reaching benefits for both.

EEG classification of movement intention

Classification of movement intention by spatially filtered electromagnetic inverse solutions.

Phys Med Biol. 2006 Apr 21;51(8):1971-89

Authors: Congedo M, Lotte F, Lécuyer A

We couple standardized low-resolution electromagnetic tomography, an inverse solution for electroencephalography (EEG) and the common spatial pattern, which is here conceived as a data-driven beamformer, to classify the benchmark BCI (brain-computer interface) competition 2003, data set IV. The data set is from an experiment where a subject performed a self-paced left and right finger tapping task. Available for analysis are 314 training trials whereas 100 unlabelled test trials have to be classified. The EEG data from 28 electrodes comprise the recording of the 500 ms before the actual finger movements, hence represent uniquely the left and right finger movement intention. Despite our use of an untrained classifier, and our extraction of only one attribute per class, our method yields accuracy similar to the winners of the competition for this data set. The distinct advantages of the approach presented here are the use of an untrained classifier and the processing speed, which make the method suitable for actual BCI applications. The proposed method is favourable over existing classification methods based on an EEG inverse solution, which rely either on iterative algorithms for single-trial independent component analysis or on trained classifiers.

Special issues of Cortex on Synaesthesia

The neuroscience journal Cortex has a forthcoming issue dedicated to the “Cognitive Neuroscience Perspectives on Synaesthesia“.
Synaesthesia is a rare condition where people experience some percepts as a different sensory modality than the one they normally belong to - e.g., numbers as colours, or tones as shapes.
This new issue collects both experimental and theoretical work casting light on this fascinating phenomenon


Can quantum mechanics explain consciousness?

Via Brain Ethics 

In the most recent issue of Nature (March 30) Christof Koch and Klaus Hepp challenge the hypothesis that human consciousness invokes quantum principles:

We challenge those who call upon consciousness to carry the burden of the measurement process in quantum mechanics with the following thought experiment. Visual psychology has caught up with magicians and has devised numerous techniques for making things disappear. For instance, if one eye of a subject receives a stream of highly salient images, a constant image projected into the other eye is only seen infrequently. Such perceptual suppression can be exploited to study whether onsciousness is strictly necessary to the collapse of the wave function. Say an observer is looking at a superimposed quantum system, such as Schrödinger’s box with the live and dead cat, with one eye while his other eye sees a succession of faces. Under the appropriate circumstances, the subject is only conscious of the rapidly changing faces, while the cat in the box remains invisible to him. What happens to the cat? The conventional prediction would be that as soon as the photons from this quantum system encounter a classical object, such as the retina of the observer, quantum superposition is lost and the cat is either dead or alive.This is true no matter whether the observer consciously saw the cat in the box or not. If, however, consciousness is truly necessary to resolve the measurement problem, the animal’s fate would remain undecided until that point in time when the cat in the box becomes perceptually dominant to the observer. This seems unlikely but could, at least in principle, be empirically verified. The empirical demonstration of slowly decoherent and controllable quantum bits in neurons connected by electrical or chemical synapses, or the discovery of an efficient quantum algorithm for computations performed by the brain, would do much to bring these speculations from the ‘far-out’ to the mere ‘very unlikely’. Until such progress has been made, there is little reason to appeal to quantum mechanics to explain higher brain functions, including consciousness.

Apr 06, 2006

Will machines ever really think?

Developments in robotics and artificial intelligence raise a natural question: If computer processing eventually apes nature's neural networks, will cold silicon ever be truly able to think? And how will we judge whether it does?

Journalist Yvonne Raley addresses these issues in this article just appeared in the online issue of Scientific American Mind

Apr 02, 2006

HCI International 2007

12th international conference on Human-Computer Interaction, , 22-27 July 2007, Beijing, China

From the website

The HCI International 2007 jointly with the affiliated Conferences, which are held under one management and one Registration, invite you to Beijing, P.R. China to participate and contribute to the international forum for the dissemination and exchange of up-to-date scientific information on theoretical, generic and applied areas of HCI through the following modes of communication: Plenary / Keynote Presentation(s), Parallel Sessions, Poster Sessions and Tutorials. The Conference will start with three days of Tutorials. Parallel Sessions and Poster Sessions will be held during the last three days of the Conference.

The Conference focuses on the following major thematic areas:

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Human Interface and the Management of Information
  • Universal Access in Human-Computer Interaction
  • Ergonomics and Health Aspects of Work with Computers
  • Engineering Psychology and Cognitive Ergonomics
  • Virtual Reality
  • Usability and Internationalization
  • Online Communities and Social Computing
  • Augmented Cognition
  • Digital Human Modeling

The topics listed under each thematic area are indicative of the broad spectrum of issues to be addressed and are not intended to limit the range of submissions.


Apr 01, 2006

The contribution of virtual reality to research on sensory feedback in remote control

The contribution of virtual reality to research on sensory feedback in remote control

Robert W. Lindeman, Yasuyuki Yanagida, Haruo Noma and Kenichi Hosaka

Virtual Reality, Volume 9, Number 4; Date: April 2006; Pages:  203 - 213

Here we consider research on the kinds of sensory information most effective as feedback during remote control of machines, and the role of virtual reality and telepresence in that research. We argue that full automation is a distant goal and that remote control deserves continued attention and improvement. Visual feedback to controllers has developed in various ways but autostereoscopic displays have yet to be proven. Haptic force feedback, in both real and virtual settings, has been demonstrated to offer much to the remote control environment and has led to a greater understanding of the kinesthetic and cutaneous components of haptics, and their role in multimodal processes, such as sensory capture and integration. We suggest that many displays using primarily visual feedback would benefit from the addition of haptic information but that much is yet to be learned about optimizing such displays.

Emotional effects of sertraline: novel findings revealed by meditation

Emotional effects of sertraline: novel findings revealed by meditation.

Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2006 Jan;76(1):134-7

Authors: Walsh R, Victor B, Bitner R

Use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors continues to increase, as does concern about previously unrecognized, subtle side effects and questions about whether these drugs produce effects on healthy subjects. The authors report novel emotional effects identified by an experienced, psychologically healthy meditator who is a psychiatrist and researcher. On a meditation retreat, the subject identified a specific profile of emotional changes related to sertraline use. In particular, cognitive abilities and the emotions of fear and anger seemed unaffected. However, the emotions of sadness, happiness, rapture, and love were dramatically reduced in intensity and duration. ((c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Effect of neurofeedback training on the neural substrates of selective attention

Effect of neurofeedback training on the neural substrates of selective attention in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study.

Neurosci Lett. 2006 Feb 20;394(3):216-21

Authors: Lévesque J, Beauregard M, Mensour B

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder mainly characterized by impairments in cognitive functions. Functional neuroimaging studies carried out in individuals with AD/HD have shown abnormal functioning of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) during tasks involving selective attention. In other respects, there is mounting evidence that neurofeedback training (NFT) can significantly improve cognitive functioning in AD/HD children. In this context, the present functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study was conducted to measure the effect of NFT on the neural substrates of selective attention in children with AD/HD. Twenty AD/HD children--not taking any psychostimulant and without co-morbidity-participated to the study. Fifteen children were randomly assigned to the Experimental (EXP) group (NFT), whereas the other five children were assigned to the Control (CON) group (no NFT). Subjects from both groups were scanned 1 week before the beginning of the NFT (Time 1) and 1 week after the end of this training (Time 2), while they performed a Counting Stroop task. At Time 1, for both groups, the Counting Stroop task was associated with significant loci of activation in the left superior parietal lobule. No activation was noted in the ACC. At Time 2, for both groups, the Counting Stroop task was still associated with significant activation of the left superior parietal lobule. This time, however, for the EXP group only there was a significant activation of the right ACC. These results suggest that in AD/HD children, NFT has the capacity to normalize the functioning of the ACC, the key neural substrate of selective attention.

Mar 30, 2006

Device warns you if you're boring or irritating

A DEVICE that can pick up on people's emotions is being developed to help people with autism relate to those around them. It will alert its autistic user if the person they are talking to starts showing signs of getting bored or annoyed.
One of the problems facing people with autism is an inability to pick up on social cues. Failure to notice that they are boring or confusing their listeners can be particularly damaging, says Rana El Kaliouby of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "It's sad because people then avoid having conversations with them."

The "emotional social intelligence prosthetic" device, which El Kaliouby is constructing along with MIT colleagues Rosalind Picard and Alea Teeters, consists of a camera small enough to be pinned to the side of a pair of glasses, connected to a hand-held computer running image recognition software plus software that can read the emotions these images show. If the wearer seems to be failing to engage his or her listener, the software makes the hand-held computer vibrate.


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Mar 29, 2006

Video Capture Virtual Reality in Burn Rehabilitation

The Use of Video Capture Virtual Reality in Burn Rehabilitation: The Possibilities.

J Burn Care Res. 2006 March/April;27(2):195-197

Authors: Haik J, Tessone A, Nota A, Mendes D, Raz L, Goldan O, Regev E, Winkler E, Mor E, Orenstein A, Hollombe I

We independently explored the use of the Sony PlayStation II EyeToy (Sony Corporation, Foster City, CA) as a tool for use in the rehabilitation of patients with severe burns. Intensive occupational and physical therapy is crucial in minimizing and preventing long-term disability for the burn patient; however, the therapist faces a difficult challenge combating the agonizing pain experienced by the patient during therapy. The Sony PlayStation II EyeToy is a projected, video-capture system that, although initially developed as a gaming environment for children, may be a useful application in a rehabilitative context. As compared with other virtual reality systems the EyeToytrade mark is an efficient rehabilitation tool that is sold commercially at a relatively low cost. This report presents the potential advantages for use of the EyeToytrade mark as an innovative rehabilitative tool with mitigating effects on pain in burn rehabilitation. This new technology represents a challenging and motivating way for the patient to immerse himself or herself in an alternate reality while undergoing treatment, thereby reducing the pain and discomfort he or she experiences. This simple, affordable technique may prove to heighten the level of patient cooperation and therefore speed the process of rehabilitation and return of functional ability.

Biofeedback in hypertension

The Efficacy of Behavioral Treatments for Hypertension.

Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2006 Mar 25;

Authors: Linden W, Moseley JV

Evidence is reviewed for the efficacy of behavioral treatments for hypertension. The format chosen here is a review of reviews given that numerous consensus committee reports and quantitative reviews on the topic have been published. Extensive evidence from over 100 randomized controlled trials indicates that behavioral treatments reduce blood pressure (BP) to a modest degree, and this change is greater than what is seen in wait-list or other inactive controls. Effect sizes are quite variable. The observed BP reductions are much greater when BP levels were high at pre-test, and behavioral studies tend to underestimate possible benefits because of floor effects in their protocols. Blood pressure measured in the office may be confounded with measurement habituation. Multi-component, individualized psychological treatments lead to greater BP changes than do single-component treatments. Among biofeedback treatments, thermal feedback and electrodermal activity feedback fare better than EMG or direct BP feedback, which tend to produce null effects. There continues to be a scarcity of strong protocols that properly control for floor effects and potential measurement confounds.