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Apr 21, 2006

Workshop on the Cognitive Science of Games and Game play

As part of CogSci 2006, 26-29 July 2006, Montreal, Canada

From the website

Craig Lindley: Cognitive Science of Games and Gameplay (full day)

Cognitive science has always had a strong relationship with games and game play. Simple cognition tests frequently having the form of games, and games like chess have provided traditional models of intense cognitive challenges. Ongoing advances in computer game technology have supported the creation of commercial games presenting a wide variety of cognitive challenges embedded within rich, engaging audiovisual worlds. The growth of computer games as an entertainment technology and medium is having a major cultural and social impact, with game players frequently spending large portions of their discretional time deeply immersed in game play.

Despite the emergence of computer games as a major cultural and economic force, the scientific study of complex games is in its very early stages. Methodologies and theoretical paradigms are still being established, and the world waits for substantial results before game systems can be more fully deployed across broad application areas. Games are fundamentally learning systems and this is of particular interest, both from the perspective of the cognitive changes in players arising from entertainment gameplay (and their attendant social implications) and from the perspective of how games might function in more specific pedagogical and therapeutic contexts.

Theories and methods from cognitive science appear to be among the most promising for studying the structure, dynamics, affects and effects of games and game play. Moreover, computer games provide rich, multi-modal, but still controllable environments for conducting cognitive experiments having potentially higher ecological validity than the rarefied experiments of traditional cognitive psychology.

This workshop aims to bring together cognitive scientists interested in game phenomena, cognitive scientists interested in using games as a research tool, game researchers interested in cognitive approaches to the study of games, and game researchers interested in games for the study of cognition. The aim is to consolidate and focus these interests in a new field of the Cognitive Science of Games and Game Play. Topics of interest include but are not limited to:


  • cognition-based theoretical frameworks for the study of games and gameplay
  • games as a methodological tool for cognition research
  • emotion and aesthetics of games and game engagement
  • cognitive neurophysiology of games and play
  • cognitive foundations of game design principles
  • cognitive and perceptual substructure of game interaction
  • effects of game play upon player cognitive processes
  • schemata involved in game play
  • player modelling and motivational factors
  • computational modelling of players, play processes, tactics, strategies and learning
  • game interaction as a basis of cognitive modelling
  • perceptual loading, attention and cognitive capacity management in game play
  • empirical study of games, methods, results and interpretations
  • social cognition and multiplayer games
  • the cognitive substructure of fun

The workshop will be held from 0830 to 1700 on Wednesday July 26 2006.


Those interested in attending the workshop should submit a 500 – 1000 word abstract by 19 May 2006. Submissions should be sent in electronic form to: craig.lindley@hgo.se Authors of accepted abstracts should submit full papers by Friday 30 June 2006. Full papers may be up to 10 A4 pages in length.

Electronic media causing ADHD?

From Mind Hacks

Neuroscientist Baroness Greenfield was featured on Radio 4's Today Programme this morning [realaudio] arguing that children are being medicated for ADHD when the problem might be caused by the over-use of 'electronic media' leading to short attention spans...

read the full post 

Ageing, Impairment, and Technology

Forthcoming special issues of Pragmatics & Cognition



1. Mechanicism and Autonomy: What can Robotics Teach us About Human Cognition and Action? (call for papers)

Editors: Pim Haselager, Maria Eunice Qumlice Gonzales, and Itiel Dror

Deadline for submissions: 30 June 2006

Publication: Summer 2007

2. Ageing, Impairment, and Technology (call for papers)

Editors: Romola Bucks, Jonathan Cole, and Itiel Dror

Deadline for submissions: 30 June 2007

Publication: Summer 2008

5. Cognitive Research in Light of Technological Developments: Advances, Challenges, and Potential Pitfalls (call for papers)

Editors: Boris Velichkovsky and Itiel Dror

Deadline for submissions: 30 June 2008

Publication: Summer 2009

6. Cognitive Development and Education in the Mirror of Technology (call for papers)

Editors: TBA and Itiel Dror

Deadline for submissions: 30 June 2009

Publication: Summer 2010



Intelligent Medical Implants Reports Artificial Vision Breakthrough

From Business Wire (press release)
BONN, Germany: IIP-Technologies GmbH For the first time, electronic signals are sent via wireless transmission, received by a learning retinal implant, and enable retinal-blinded patients who had no light perception to 'see' light and patterns.

"The provoked visual perceptions were pleasant, according to the patients, and this was the first time they had seen something in many years-- in one case, several decades. Understandably, they reacted emotionally to their visual experience."

Hans-Juergen Tiedtke
Chief Executive Officer
IIP-Technologies GmbH

IIP-Technologies GmbH, on behalf of its parent company Intelligent Medical Implants AG ("IMI") (www.intmedimplants.com), announced today that a limited clinical study related to its ongoing Early Human Trial has demonstrated that IMI's patented, first-generation Learning Retinal Implant(TM) enabled patients to see light - as well as simple patterns - via a wireless transmission of data and energy. This is the first time in the history of the development of artificial vision that completely wireless transmission of data and energy into an implant in the eye of long-time blind persons has resulted in pattern recognition.

The Learning Retinal Implant has been successfully implanted in four patients for a duration of up to 13 weeks to date (the first implantation occurred in late-November 2005). Subsequent clinical testing of the IMI device with these patients commenced on schedule beginning in January 2006 at the University of Hamburg (Germany) Medical School under principal investigator Prof. Gisbert Richard, Professor of Ophthalmology. Each of the implantations has been "extremely well-tolerated" and fixation of the implant has been "stable, with no inflammatory reactions," according to Prof. Richard.

"Each of these blind persons had no visual perception at all, yet upon wireless stimulation of the retina via the Learning Retinal Implant, they were able to 'see' something,"said Hans-Juergen Tiedtke, CEO of IIP-Technologies, a subsidiary of IMI. "One patient, for example, a 65-year-old female from Marienberg, Germany, has not had sight for more than a half century. From early childhood she has suffered from RP, meaning that she has not seen normally for more than 60 years. Nevertheless, in her first pattern recognition test, she described continuous objects such as a half circle. There is no doubt that this result is extremely positive, given that she has had no sight for almost her entire life, yet was still able to immediately receive a visual perception from electrical stimulation.


"While further clinical testing is needed and planned, we are truly delighted by these early results. It is our expectation that, in the not-too-distant future, our Learning Retinal Implant System, along with rehabilitation, may allow patients to recognize objects by identifying their size, as well as their position, movements and shapes. In other words, a blind person, using our Learning Retinal Implant System, is expected to be able to move independently in an unfamiliar environment--thus enabling him or her to lead an autonomous life. Indeed, development of a wireless visual prosthesis that could be implanted permanently with good results is the 'Holy Grail' of artificial vision," added Mr. Tiedtke.

IMI's initial clinical-indication focus is blind persons with Retinitis Pigmentosa ('RP'), one of the two most common causes of vision loss in persons over the age of 50 by hereditary degenerative retinal diseases. RP is considered irreversible, and no treatment or cure is known to date. Several million people are affected worldwide.



Apr 20, 2006

Online Communities and Virtual Worlds for Patient and Caregiver Self-Help Groups

Via VRPSYCH mailing list

The Institute of Rural Health at the Idaho State University has announced the following webconferencing session:

Online Communities and Virtual Worlds for Patient and Caregiver Self-Help Groups

Meeting Date and Time: APRIL 20, NOON-1:00 PM MDT (Mountain Daylight Time)
Presenter: John Lester

Online communities offer a unique opportunity for patients and caregivers to share experiences and emotional support with people across the world. John Lester will discuss his experiences with Braintalk Communities (www.braintalk.org), which offers hundreds of forums and chatrooms for self-help support groups focused on a wide range of neurological disorders.
Started in 1993, Braintalk continues to explore new models of online communities and support. John will describe the growth and evolution of Braintalk as well as his work using the 3-d virtual world of Second Life ( www.secondlife.com) to create new online communities supporting people dealing with Asperger's Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and Stroke Survivors. He will also summarize how different groups of patients and caregivers can use vastly different communication modalities to help them deal with unique conditions.

John Lester Bio:
John Lester joined Linden Lab (the creators of Second Life) in 2005, bringing experience in online community development as well as a background in the fields of healthcare and education. Previously he was the Information Technology Director in the Neurology Service at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he pioneered the use of the web in 1993 to create online communities for supporting patients dealing with neurological disorders. He also held an academic appointment at Harvard Medical School , where he created online collaborative environments for professors and students to advance the case-based teaching method in medical education. John created and continues to manage BrainTalk Communities, a non-profit organization who's mission is to provide online environments for patient and caregiver self-help groups focused on neurological disorders.

Cut and paste the entire link below including the meeting_id in the address text box of your internet browser.

Session Link:


Meeting Date and Time: Apr 20, 2006 NOON to 1:00 PM (MDT)

This conference session is an open one and DOES NOT REQUIRE A PASSWORD. Thus, you only need to enter your name on the sign in page and log in without entering a password.

Please note: If your computer has a microphone and speakers you will be able to talk and hear while you are in the Elluminate session. If you do not have a microphone, you can still interact with your peers and the speaker through text chat.

If this is the first time you will be using Elluminate, you may be prompted to download some software which may take anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes depending upon your Internet connection speed. We advise you to get your PC ready to access the webconference a day or two before the scheduled date of the talk. You can pre-configure your system with the required software by going to the support page located at:

Elluminate Help Desk Tel Numbers: 866-388-8674 option 2, 703-464-9158

New book about ubicomp

Via Smart Mobs

The Well's Inkwell Conference features a discussion with Adam Greenfield, author of Everyware:

Computing devices shrink ever smaller and become invisible, while at the same time we interact with them and they communicate with one another. Rather than carrying phones and PDAs, our desks, rooms, and clothing, our food and our sex toys converge, interconnect, and interact. Their connectedness is hidden from us, we don't control the information they record, and there's no "Undo" key.

"Great, another loopy novelist in the Inkwell, extrapolating from a random headline in a trade journal," you say.

It's not loopy fiction, according to Adam Greenfield. Instead, it's the form computing will take in the next few years, and it behooves us to think it through in advance, in order both to understand it and humanize it. That's the subject of "Everyware: The dawning age of ubiquitous computing."

Join Adam Greenfield from the beginning of the conversation or catch up on the latest posts

Neurofeedback can alleviate the symptoms of autism

Researcher Jaime Pineda at the University of California, San Diego, has conducted a pilot study to test the efficacy of neurofeedback training in alleviating the symptoms of autism. The work was presented at the annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society in San Francisco. From New Scientist's report:

The technique involves hooking people up to electrodes and getting them to try and control their brain waves. In people with autism, the "mu" wave is thought to be dysfunctional. Since this wave is associated with "mirror neurons" - the brain cells that underpin empathy and understanding of others - Jaime Pineda at the University of California, San Diego, wondered if controlling it through neurofeedback could exercise faulty mirror neurons and improve their function.

He attached sensors to the necks and heads of eight children with autism and had them watch a video game of a racing car going round a track. For all of the children, sitting still and concentrating kept the car travelling around the track, but five of them were also able to harness their mu waves and use them to adjust the car's speed.

After 30 sessions over 10 weeks, Pineda found that the five children's mu brainwaves had changed and they performed better on tasks involving imitation, typically difficult for people with autism.

An android for enhancing social skills and emotion recognition in people with autism

An android for enhancing social skills and emotion recognition in people with autism.

IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng. 2005 Dec;13(4):507-15

Authors: Pioggia G, Igliozzi R, Ferro M, Ahluwalia A, Muratori F, De Rossi D

It is well documented that the processing of social and emotional information is impaired in people with autism. Recent studies have shown that individuals, particularly those with high functioning autism, can learn to cope with common social situations if they are made to enact possible scenarios they may encounter in real life during therapy. The main aim of this work is to describe an interactive life-like facial display (FACE) and a supporting therapeutic protocol that will enable us to verify if the system can help children with autism to learn, identify, interpret, and use emotional information and extend these skills in a socially appropriate, flexible, and adaptive context. The therapeutic setup consists of a specially equipped room in which the subject, under the supervision of a therapist, can interact with FACE. The android display and associated control system has automatic facial tracking, expression recognition, and eye tracking. The treatment scheme is based on a series of therapist-guided sessions in which a patient communicates with FACE through an interactive console. Preliminary data regarding the exposure to FACE of two children are reported.

IPRIZE: a $1,000,000 Challenge for Eye-Tracking

Via the IPRIZE website 

Eye tracking is a viable next-generation human computer interface. For individuals with significant motor disabilities, eye-tracking interfaces represent one of the few or only ways to communicate effectively. Unfortunately, current eye-tracking systems are expensive (over $10,000), invasive, inflexible, cumbersome and frustrating to use.
Moreover, improvements in eye tracking technology over the last 30 years have been purely incremental.
A revolution in eye tracking will be required in order to make eye tracking the next ubiquitous human computer interface. Simultaneous factors of 10 improvements are needed in the price, intrusiveness, robustness, speed, and accuracy of eye-tracking systems.

The IPRIZE is a $1,000,000 Grand Challenge designed to spark advances in eye-tracking technology through competition. Repeatedly throughout history, such Grand Challenges have lead to radical innovations that overcome significant technical and economic barriers. The IPRIZE competition will focus the efforts of scientific, engineering and entreprenuerial communities on this significant problem.
Learn more about eye-tracking technology and related applications (source: COGAIN project)
Portals and Links Collections Eye Tracking Conferences and Meetings

Apr 18, 2006

2007 Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science




The Franklin Institute is soliciting nominations for the 2007 Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science, which will be on the theme of Human-Centered Computing

From the website:

The Franklin Institute invites you to nominate candidates for the Benjamin Franklin Medals, the 2007 Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science and the 2007 Bower Award for Business Leadership.

The Benjamin Franklin Medals are awarded annually in seven disciplines of science: chemistry, computer and cognitive science, earth and environmental science, electrical engineering, life science, mechanical engineering, and physics.

The Bower Awards are presented in a predetermined field of interest chosen each year. The theme of the 2007 Bower Award for Achievement in Science is Human-Centered Computing. The theme of the 2007 Bower Award for Business Leadership is Computer and Cognitive Science.

Please feel free to share this Call for Nominations with others who might wish to submit a nomination. Questions about the appropriateness of a particular nomination are welcome and should be directed to Dr. Philip W. Hammer, Vice President, The Franklin Institute, at the number and/or address listed in the nomination sections. 2007 nominations must be received in the Awards office by May 31, 2006.


Human Technology Special Issue: Culture, Creativity and Technology

Via Usability News


Deadline: 8 May 2006

Advances in interactive computing technology have blurred the line between art, social studies and science. The age of digital reproduction is making radical changes in how art is created, distributed and perceived. Recent work from the humanities and arts has constructively critiqued traditional Interaction Design theory and practice. Studies of experience with technology can provide new insights into the potential of interactivity in contemporary arts and performance, as well as new tools for creativity.

This special issue will provide a forum for radically interdisciplinary analysis of digital technology. It will focus on the role of technology in enhancing culture and creativity. It will seek critical and reflective approaches to the design and analysis of interactive technology. Contributions will be welcomed from the Arts and Humanities as well as the Sciences. Contributions can take the form of academic papers but also less traditional creative presentation formats such as multimedia, digital artwork and sound.


Areas of Interest:
Arts and HCI
Technology and Experience
Enabling Creativity
Performance Arts
Entertainment and Leisure Identity Politics
Collaborative approaches

Approaches of Interest:
Interaction design, computer science, engineering, architecture, cultural
studies, media studies, literary studies, critical theory, aesthetics,
performance arts, digital art, psychology, socio-technical studies.

This special issue on "Culture, Creativity and Technology" will appear in Human Technology: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Humans in ICT Environments.


Virtual Reality treatment in post traumatic stress disorder

From Clinical Psychiatry News

Virtual reality as part of exposure therapy has shown to be effective in treating men and women for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Emory University researcher Dr. Barbara Rothbaum, director of the trauma and anxiety recovery program in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, used virtual reality to expose Vietnam War vets to a clip that simulated the Vietnam War. As the small-scale study yelded encouraging results, Dr. Rothbaum has begun to test the approach with current Iraqi War veterans.
In the study, veternas used a head-mounted display and experienced a virtual Vietnam War clip (J. Clin. Psychiatry, in press). To more closely simulate actual combat, each of the veterans stood or sat on a platform above a vibrating speaker during the therapy session. According to Dr. Rothbaum, patients showed consistent improvements.

Read the full report on Clinical Psychiatry News

Cogain project: Communication by Gaze Interaction

The EU-funded five-year project COGAIN (Communication by Gaze Interaction) will attempt to make eye-tracking technologies more affordable for people with disabilities and extend the potential use of the devices to enable users to live more independently.

From the project website:

COGAIN is a network of excellence on Communication by Gaze Interaction, supported by the European Commission's IST 6th framework program. COGAIN integrates cutting-edge expertise on interface technologies for the benefit of users with disabilities. The network aims to gather Europe's leading expertise in eye tracking integration with computers in a research project on assistive technologies for citizens with motor impairments. Through the integration of research activities, the network will develop new technologies and systems, improve existing gaze-based interaction techniques, and facilitate the implementation of systems for everyday communication.


Read the full report





The Guardian: Now the bionic man is real

Via VRoot

From the article: The 1970s gave us the six-million-dollar man. Thirty years and quite a bit of inflation later we have the six-billion-dollar human: not a physical cyborg as such, instead an umbrella term for the latest developments in the growing field of technology for human enhancement.

Helping the blind to see again, being able to carry enormous loads without the prospect of backache and a prosthetic robotic hand that works (almost) like a real one were some of the ideas presented at a recent meeting of engineers, physicists, biologists and computer scientists organised by the American Association of Anatomists...

Read full article 

VRoot: Polhemus announces new tracker

Via VRoot
From the Pholemus website:
Polhemus, the industry leader in 6 Degree of Freedom (6DOF) motion capture, tracking and digitizing technologies is proud to announce MINUTEMAN™, the new low cost (under $1,500) 3-Degree-of-Freedom (3DOF) tracking product. MINUTEMAN represents a quantum leap in new technology and state of the art Digital Signal Processor (DSP) electronics which results in a major price reduction for tracking technology. MINUTEMAN is drift free, has the speed of 75 Hz per sensor and offers ease of use via an intuitive Graphical User Interface (GUI). The electronics unit (E-Pod), which is powered by the USB interface and contains the electromagnetic source, is only slightly larger than a pack of playing cards. Full InertiaCube2 emulation software is also provided for plug-and-play hardware replacement without having to worry about rewriting code. The combination of all these attributes clearly positions MINUTEMAN as a new class of electromagnetic tracking, offering significant improvements over competitive technologies.

$25K Prize for Neurobiology

Via Brain Waves



$25,000 Eppendorf & Science Prize for Neurobiology is now accepting entries. Deadline: June 15, 2006.

From the website:

The Eppendorf & Science Prize for Neurobiology acknowledges the increasing importance of this research in advancing our understanding of how the brain and nervous system function – a quest that seems destined for dramatic expansion in the coming decades. This international prize, established in 2002, is intended to encourage and support the work of promising young neurobiologists who have received their PhD or MD within the past 10 years. The prize is awarded annually to one young scientist for the most outstanding neurobiological research conducted by him/her during the past three years, as described in a 1,000-word entrance essay.

Brain waves: Neurotechnology Revenues Reach $110 Billion

Via Brain Waves 

According to the Neurotechnology Industry 2006 Report, neurotechnology revenues reach $110 Billion.

Produced by Neuroinsight, the report provides a unified market-based framework to help investors, companies and governments quantify opportunities, determine risks and understand the dynamics of this market.

United States Patent: Nervous system manipulation by electromagnetic field from monitors

I found this US technology patent, which claims a method for manipulating the nervous system of a subject via broadcast television signals, DVD, and computer terminal (if the link does not work, go to this page and type the number 6,506,148 in the "Query" bar):


Physiological effects have been observed in a human subject in response to stimulation of the skin with weak electromagnetic fields that are pulsed with certain frequencies near 1/2 Hz or 2.4 Hz, such as to excite a sensory resonance. Many computer monitors and TV tubes, when displaying pulsed images, emit pulsed electromagnetic fields of sufficient amplitudes to cause such excitation. It is therefore possible to manipulate the nervous system of a subject by pulsing images displayed on a nearby computer monitor or TV set. For the latter, the image pulsing may be imbedded in the program material, or it may be overlaid by modulating a video stream, either as an RF signal or as a video signal. The image displayed on a computer monitor may be pulsed effectively by a simple computer program. For certain monitors, pulsed electromagnetic fields capable of exciting sensory resonances in nearby subjects may be generated even as the displayed images are pulsed with subliminal intensity.

Inventors: Loos; Hendricus G. (3019 Cresta Way, Laguna Beach, CA 92651)
Appl. No.: 872528
Filed: June 1, 2001

WMMNA: Children 'bond with robots'

Via We Make Money Not Art

Researchers from Sony Intelligence Dynamics Laboratories and a nursery school in San Diego are conducting an experiment that focuses on how children can develop emotions toward robots. Results of this research could be used to develop smarter and friendlier humanoid robots, with a huge commercial potential.


High Speed, Light-based Brain Activity Detector

From Neuromarketing

Neuroscientists Gabriele Gratton and Monica Fabiani at the University of Illinois Beckman Institute’s Cognitive Neuroimaging Laboratory are using very intense near-infrared illumination to measure neuronal activity in the cortex:


The EROS is a new non-invasive brain imaging method that we are developing at the CNL. Our research has determined that this technique possesses a unique combination of spatial and temporal resolution. This makes it possible to use EROS to measure the activity in localized cortical areas. For this reason, EROS can be used to analyze the relative timing of activity in different areas, to study the order of recruitment of different cortical areas, and to examine the connections between areas. These are all questions that are difficult to study with other brain imaging methods.

According to these researchers, the EROS system can measure very short intervals of activity, down to the millisecond level. Its biggest shortcoming is the inability to detect activity more than a few centimeters deep, but it is a relative unexpensive technique (as compared to fMRI and PET) that is not invasive to the test subject.

More information about EROS can be found in this paper entitled: "Fast and Localized Event-Related Optical Signals (EROS) in the Human Occipital Cortex: Comparisons with the Visual Evoked Potential and fMRI" (Neuroimage 6, 168–180 (1997)