Jul 30, 2014
Characteristics of Successful Technological Interventions in Mental Resilience Training.
J Med Syst. 2014 Sep;38(9):113
Authors: Vakili V, Brinkman WP, Morina N, Neerincx MA
Abstract. In the last two decades, several effective virtual reality-based interventions for anxiety disorders have been developed. Virtual reality interventions can also be used to build resilience to psychopathology for populations at risk of exposure to traumatic experiences and developing mental disorders as a result, such as for people working in vulnerable professions. Despite the interest among mental health professionals and researchers in applying new technology-supported interventions for pre-trauma mental resilience training, there is a lack of recommendations about what constitutes potentially effective technology-supported resilience training. This article analyses the role of technology in the field of stress-resilience training. It presents lessons learned from technology developers currently working in the area, and it identifies some key clinical requirements for the supported resilience interventions. Two processes made up this research: 1) developers of technology-assisted resilience programs were interviewed regarding human-computer interaction and system development; 2) discussions with clinicians were prompted using technology-centered concept storyboards to elicit feedback, and to refine, validate and extend the initial concepts. A qualitative analysis of the interviews produced a set of development guidelines that engineers should follow and a list of intervention requirements that the technology should fulfill. These recommendations can help bridge the gap between engineers and clinicians when generating novel resilience interventions for people in vulnerable professions.
Jul 29, 2014
And the winner is... Sabine Petry and co-workers, Petry Lab, Princeton Department of Molecular Biology.
Description: Microtubules are hollow filaments that serve as the skeleton of the cell. They were thought to grow linearly, but this movie shows that they can branch: microtubules (red with growing tips in green) grow off the wall of existing microtubules. In addition, microtubules are moved along the glass surface by molecular motors. Microtubule branching amplifies the microtubules while preserving their polarity and explains how microtubules can cause the mitotic spindle of a dividing cell to reliably segregate chromosomes (Petry et al., Cell 2013).
Scale: A microtubule has a diameter of 25 nanometer and is the largest cytosekeletal filament in the cell.
More on the Princeton University Art of Science competition: http://artofsci.princeton.edu/
Sidewalk collisions involving pedestrians engrossed in their electronic devices have become an irritating (and sometimes dangerous) fact of city life. To prevent them, what about just creating a no cellphones lane on the sidewalk? Would people follow the signs? Thats what a TV crew decided to find out on a Washington, D.C., street Thursday, as part of a behavioral science experiment for a new National Geographic TV series. [via Quartz]
As expected, some pedestrians ignored the chalk markings designating a no-cellphones lane and a lane that warned pedestrians to walk at your own risk. Others didnt even see them because they were too busy staring at their phones. But others stopped, took pictures and posted themfrom their phones, of course.
Real-time functional MRI neurofeedback: a tool for psychiatry.
Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2014 Jul 14;
Authors: Kim S, Birbaumer N
Abstract. PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The aim of this review is to provide a critical overview of recent research in the field of neuroscientific and clinical application of real-time functional MRI neurofeedback (rtfMRI-nf).
RECENT FINDINGS: RtfMRI-nf allows self-regulating activity in circumscribed brain areas and brain systems. Furthermore, the learned regulation of brain activity has an influence on specific behaviors organized by the regulated brain regions. Patients with mental disorders show abnormal activity in certain regions, and simultaneous control of these regions using rtfMRI-nf may affect the symptoms of related behavioral disorders. SUMMARY: The promising results in clinical application indicate that rtfMRI-nf and other metabolic neurofeedback, such as near-infrared spectroscopy, might become a potential therapeutic tool. Further research is still required to examine whether rtfMRI-nf is a useful tool for psychiatry because there is still lack of knowledge about the neural function of certain brain systems and about neuronal markers for specific mental illnesses.
MindRDR connects Google Glass with a device to monitor brain activity, allowing users to take pictures and socialise them on Twitter or Facebook.
Once a user has decided to share an image, we analyse their brain data and provide an evaluation of their ability to control the interface with their mind. This information is attached to every shared image.
The current version of MindRDR uses commercially available brain monitor Neurosky MindWave Mobile to extract core metrics from the mind.
Ekso is an exoskeleton bionic suit or a "wearable robot" designed to enable individuals with lower extremity paralysis to stand up and walk over ground with a weight bearing, four point reciprocal gait. Walking is achieved by the user’s forward lateral weight shift to initiate a step. Battery-powered motors drive the legs and replace neuromuscular function.
Ekso Bionics http://eksobionics.com/
Jul 13, 2014
Jul 09, 2014
Experiential Virtual Scenarios With Real-Time Monitoring (Interreality) for the Management of Psychological Stress: A Block Randomized Controlled Trial
The recent convergence between technology and medicine is offering innovative methods and tools for behavioral health care. Among these, an emerging approach is the use of virtual reality (VR) within exposure-based protocols for anxiety disorders, and in particular posttraumatic stress disorder. However, no systematically tested VR protocols are available for the management of psychological stress. Objective: Our goal was to evaluate the efficacy of a new technological paradigm, Interreality, for the management and prevention of psychological stress. The main feature of Interreality is a twofold link between the virtual and the real world achieved through experiential virtual scenarios (fully controlled by the therapist, used to learn coping skills and improve self-efficacy) with real-time monitoring and support (identifying critical situations and assessing clinical change) using advanced technologies (virtual worlds, wearable biosensors, and smartphones).
Full text paper available at: http://www.jmir.org/2014/7/e167/
Jun 30, 2014
Jun 29, 2014
In his Science editorial (A perverted view of 'impact,' Science, 2013 Jun 14, p. 1265), cell biologist and biochemist Marc Kirschner warns against National Institute of Health's recent introduction of ''impact and significance'' as an explicit criterion to funding decisions.
According to Kirschner, overemphasis on short-term impact (especially in fundamental research) can lead applicants to overstate potential benefits of their proposals. Moreover, as Kirschner notes, scientists working in fundamental research can rarely anticipate future applications of their eventual discoveries. A further risk related to the introduction of this criterion is that increasing investments in areas that are considered impactful will in-evitably decrease resources for other fields. As a result, diversity in science will be reduced as well as productivity.
Although I tend to resonate with Kirschner's general argument, I also believe that there are compelling reasons in favor of introducing (maintaining) impact as a criterion in funding decisions.
First, at least some scientists, if not all of them, might have a clear view about the significance of their research.
Second, resources for science are scarce. Since choices need to be made, concentrating funding on research that has more promising applications is meaningful. As in the popular Nasruddin's tale, no matter where we may have lost the key, we all prefer to begin under the street light where we can see—and so it is for funding bodies.
Third, however, this strategy does not prevent the fact that some resources are dedicated to high risk/high impact projects; see, as an example, the European Commission Future and Emerging Technologies Flagships' initiatives.
Fourth, the growing gap between science and the public could be reduced if researchers would better explain the significance of their work for society. This is especially true in times of economic depression: early evidence suggests that citizens of regions more affected by crisis are more likely to express support for increases in government investments in research (L. Sanz-Menéndez, G. G. Van Ryzin, Economic crisis and public attitudes toward science: a study of regional differences in Spain. Public Underst Sci. 2013 Jun 21).
We are aware that impact and significance are ill-defined concepts. However, researchers are good at measuring things. They could put more effort in trying to define better indicators for these issues, making impact review a less arbitrary system.
Apr 29, 2014
Actually, according to my experience, citizens and public stakeholders are not well-informed or educated about mHealth. For example, to many people the idea of using phones to deliver mental health programs still sounds weird.
Yet the number of mental health apps is rapidly growing: a recent survey identified 200 unique mobile tools specifically associated with behavioral health.
These applications now cover a wide array of clinical areas including developmental disorders, cognitive disorders, substance-related disorders, as well as psychotic and mood disorders.
I think that the increasing "applification" of mental health is explained by three potential benefits of this approach:
- First, mobile apps can be integrated in different stages of treatment: from promoting awareness of disease, to increasing treatment compliance, to preventing relapse.
- Furthermore, mobile tools can be used to monitor behavioural and psychological symptoms in everyday life: self-reported data can be complemented with readings from inbuilt or wearable sensors to fine-tune treatment according to the individual patient’s needs.
- Last - but not least - mobile applications can help patients to stay on top of current research, facilitating access to evidence-based care. For example, in the EC-funded INTERSTRESS project, we investigated these potentials in the assessment and management of psychological stress, by developing different mobile applications (including the award-winning Positive Technology app) for helping people to monitor stress levels “on the go” and learn new relaxation skills.
In short, I believe that mental mHealth has the potential to provide the right care, at the right time, at the right place. However, from my personal experience I have identified three key challenges that must be faced in order to realize the potential of this approach.
I call them the three "nEEEds" of mental mHealth: evidence, engagement, enactment.
- Evidence refers to the need of clinical proof of efficacy or effectiveness to be provided using randomised trials.
- Engagement is related to the need of ensuring usability and accessibility for mobile interfaces: this goes beyond reducing use errors that may generate risks of psychological discomfort for the patient, to include the creation of a compelling and engaging user experience.
- Finally, enactment concerns the need that appropriate regulations enacted by competent authorities catch up with mHealth technology development.
Being myself a beneficiary of EC-funded grants, I can recognize that R&D investments on mHealth made by EC across FP6 and FP7 have contributed to position Europe at the forefront of this revolution. And the return of this investment could be strong: it has been predicted that full exploitation of mHealth solutions could lead to nearly 100 billion EUR savings in total annual EU healthcare spend in 2017.
I believe that a progressively larger portion of these savings may be generated by the adoption of mobile solutions in the mental health sector: actually, in the WHO European Region, mental ill health accounts for almost 20% of the burden of disease.
For this prediction to be fulfilled, however, many barriers must be overcome: thethree "nEEEds" of mental mHealth are probably only the start of the list. Hopefully, the Green Paper consultation will help to identify further opportunities and concerns that may be facing mental mHealth, in order to ensure a successful implementation of this approach.
Apr 15, 2014
A post-stroke rehabilitation system integrating robotics, VR and high-resolution EEG imaging.
IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng. 2013 Sep;21(5):849-59
Authors: Steinisch M, Tana MG, Comani S
We propose a system for the neuro-motor rehabilitation of upper limbs in stroke survivors. The system is composed of a passive robotic device (Trackhold) for kinematic tracking and gravity compensation, five dedicated virtual reality (VR) applications for training of distinct movement patterns, and high-resolution EEG for synchronous monitoring of cortical activity. In contrast to active devices, the Trackhold omits actuators for increased patient safety and acceptance levels, and for reduced complexity and costs. VR applications present all relevant information for task execution as easy-to-understand graphics that do not need any written or verbal instructions. High-resolution electroencephalography (HR-EEG) is synchronized with kinematic data acquisition, allowing for the epoching of EEG signals on the basis of movement-related temporal events. Two healthy volunteers participated in a feasibility study and performed a protocol suggested for the rehabilitation of post-stroke patients. Kinematic data were analyzed by means of in-house code. Open source packages (EEGLAB, SPM, and GMAC) and in-house code were used to process the neurological data. Results from kinematic and EEG data analysis are in line with knowledge from currently available literature and theoretical predictions, and demonstrate the feasibility and potential usefulness of the proposed rehabilitation system to monitor neuro-motor recovery.
Brain-computer interfaces: a powerful tool for scientific inquiry.
Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2014 Apr;25C:70-75
Authors: Wander JD, Rao RP
Abstract. Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are devices that record from the nervous system, provide input directly to the nervous system, or do both. Sensory BCIs such as cochlear implants have already had notable clinical success and motor BCIs have shown great promise for helping patients with severe motor deficits. Clinical and engineering outcomes aside, BCIs can also be tremendously powerful tools for scientific inquiry into the workings of the nervous system. They allow researchers to inject and record information at various stages of the system, permitting investigation of the brain in vivo and facilitating the reverse engineering of brain function. Most notably, BCIs are emerging as a novel experimental tool for investigating the tremendous adaptive capacity of the nervous system.
Android Wear will show you info from the wide variety of Android apps, such as messages, social apps, chats, notifications, health and fitness, music playlists, and videos.
It will also enable Google Now functions — say “OK, Google” for flight times, sending a text, weather, view email, get directions, travel time, making a reservation, etc..
Google says it’s working with several other consumer-electronics manufacturers, including Asus, HTC, and Samsung; chip makers Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek and Qualcomm; and fashion brands like the Fossil Group to offer watches powered by Android Wear later this year.
If you’re a developer, there’s a new section on developer.android.com/wear focused on wearables. Starting today, you can download a Developer Preview so you can tailor your existing app notifications for watches powered by Android Wear.
A Hybrid Brain Computer Interface System Based on the Neurophysiological Protocol and Brain-actuated Switch for Wheelchair Control
A Hybrid Brain Computer Interface System Based on the Neurophysiological Protocol and Brain-actuated Switch for Wheelchair Control.
J Neurosci Methods. 2014 Apr 5;
Authors: Cao L, Li J, Ji H, Jiang C
BACKGROUND: Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs) are developed to translate brain waves into machine instructions for external devices control. Recently, hybrid BCI systems are proposed for the multi-degree control of a real wheelchair to improve the systematical efficiency of traditional BCIs. However, it is difficult for existing hybrid BCIs to implement the multi-dimensional control in one command cycle.
NEW METHOD: This paper proposes a novel hybrid BCI system that combines motor imagery (MI)-based bio-signals and steady-state visual evoked potentials (SSVEPs) to control the speed and direction of a real wheelchair synchronously. Furthermore, a hybrid modalities-based switch is firstly designed to turn on/off the control system of the wheelchair.
RESULTS: Two experiments were performed to assess the proposed BCI system. One was implemented for training and the other one conducted a wheelchair control task in the real environment. All subjects completed these tasks successfully and no collisions occurred in the real wheelchair control experiment.
COMPARISON WITH EXISTING METHOD(S): The protocol of our BCI gave much more control commands than those of previous MI and SSVEP-based BCIs. Comparing with other BCI wheelchair systems, the superiority reflected by the index of path length optimality ratio validated the high efficiency of our control strategy.
CONCLUSIONS: The results validated the efficiency of our hybrid BCI system to control the direction and speed of a real wheelchair as well as the reliability of hybrid signals-based switch control.
Glyph looks like a normal headset and operates like one, too. That is, until you move the headband down over your eyes and it becomes a fully-functional visual visor that displays movies, television shows, video games or any other media connected via the attached HDMI cable.
Using Virtual Retinal Display (VRD), a technology that mimics the way we see light, the Glyph projects images directly onto your retina using one million micromirrors in each eye piece. These micromirrors reflect the images back to the retina, producing a reportedly crisp and vivid quality.
London-based creative agency DBLG shows the way with “Bears on Stairs,” a short clip that combines a 3-D printed hero with traditional stop-motion animation to charming effect. The ursine epic has a 2-second run time and took four weeks to complete, making it about as efficient as your average Michael Bay production, by my rough calculations. The lumbering action took 50 printed models in all.
Fifty years ago, before either arcades or home video games, visitors waited in line at Brookhaven National Laboratory to play Tennis for Two, an electronic tennis game that is unquestionably a forerunner of the modern video game. Two people played the electronic tennis game with separate controllers that connected to an analog computer and used an oscilloscope for a screen. The game's creator, William Higinbotham, was a physicist who lobbied for nuclear nonproliferation as the first chair of the Federation of American Scientists.
Apr 06, 2014
Measuring the effects through time of the influence of visuomotor and visuotactile synchronous stimulation on a virtual body ownership illusion
Measuring the effects through time of the influence of visuomotor and visuotactile synchronous stimulation on a virtual body ownership illusion.
Authors: Kokkinara E, Slater M
Abstract. Previous studies have examined the experience of owning a virtual surrogate body or body part through specific combinations of cross-modal multisensory stimulation. Both visuomotor (VM) and visuotactile (VT) synchronous stimulation have been shown to be important for inducing a body ownership illusion, each tested separately or both in combination. In this study we compared the relative importance of these two cross-modal correlations, when both are provided in the same immersive virtual reality setup and the same experiment. We systematically manipulated VT and VM contingencies in order to assess their relative role and mutual interaction. Moreover, we present a new method for measuring the induced body ownership illusion through time, by recording reports of breaks in the illusion of ownership ('breaks') throughout the experimental phase. The balance of the evidence, from both questionnaires and analysis of the breaks, suggests that while VM synchronous stimulation contributes the greatest to the attainment of the illusion, a disruption of either (through asynchronous stimulation) contributes equally to the probability of a break in the illusion.