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Feb 09, 2014

The importance of synchrony and temporal order of visual and tactile input for illusory limb ownership experiences - an FMRI study applying virtual reality

The importance of synchrony and temporal order of visual and tactile input for illusory limb ownership experiences - an FMRI study applying virtual reality.

PLoS One. 2014;9(1):e87013

Authors: Bekrater-Bodmann R, Foell J, Diers M, Kamping S, Rance M, Kirsch P, Trojan J, Fuchs X, Bach F, Cakmak HK, Maaß H, Flor H

Abstract. In the so-called rubber hand illusion, synchronous visuotactile stimulation of a visible rubber hand together with one's own hidden hand elicits ownership experiences for the artificial limb. Recently, advanced virtual reality setups were developed to induce a virtual hand illusion (VHI). Here, we present functional imaging data from a sample of 25 healthy participants using a new device to induce the VHI in the environment of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system. In order to evaluate the neuronal robustness of the illusion, we varied the degree of synchrony between visual and tactile events in five steps: in two conditions, the tactile stimulation was applied prior to visual stimulation (asynchrony of -300 ms or -600 ms), whereas in another two conditions, the tactile stimulation was applied after visual stimulation (asynchrony of +300 ms or +600 ms). In the fifth condition, tactile and visual stimulation was applied synchronously. On a subjective level, the VHI was successfully induced by synchronous visuotactile stimulation. Asynchronies between visual and tactile input of ±300 ms did not significantly diminish the vividness of illusion, whereas asynchronies of ±600 ms did. The temporal order of visual and tactile stimulation had no effect on VHI vividness. Conjunction analyses of functional MRI data across all conditions revealed significant activation in bilateral ventral premotor cortex (PMv). Further characteristic activation patterns included bilateral activity in the motion-sensitive medial superior temporal area as well as in the bilateral Rolandic operculum, suggesting their involvement in the processing of bodily awareness through the integration of visual and tactile events. A comparison of the VHI-inducing conditions with asynchronous control conditions of ±600 ms yielded significant PMv activity only contralateral to the stimulation site. These results underline the temporal limits of the induction of limb ownership related to multisensory body-related input.

Bodily maps of emotions

Via KurzweilAI.net

Bodily topography of basic (Upper) and nonbasic (Lower) emotions associated with words. The body maps show regions whose activation increased (warm colors) or decreased (cool colors) when feeling each emotion. (Credit: Lauri Nummenmaa et al./PNAS)

Researchers at Aalto University in Finland have compiled maps of emotional feelings associated with culturally universal bodily sensations, which could be at the core of emotional experience.

The researchers found that the most common emotions trigger strong bodily sensations, and the bodily maps of these sensations were topographically different for different emotions. The sensation patterns were, however, consistent across different West European and East Asian cultures, highlighting that emotions and their corresponding bodily sensation patterns have a biological basis.

The research was carried out on line, and over 700 individuals from Finland, Sweden and Taiwan took part in the study. The researchers induced different emotional states in their Finnish and Taiwanese participants. Subsequently the participants were shown pictures of human bodies on a computer, and asked to color the bodily regions whose activity they felt increasing or decreasing.

“Unraveling the subjective bodily sensations associated with human emotions may help us to better understand mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, which are accompanied by altered emotional processing, autonomic nervous system activity, and somatosensation (body sensations),” the researchers said in an open-access paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “These topographical changes in emotion-triggered sensations in the body could provide a novel biomarker for emotional disorders.”

Abstract of PNAS paper

Lauri Nummenmaa at al., Bodily maps of emotions, PNAS, 646–651, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1321664111 (open access)

Emotions are often felt in the body, and somatosensory feedback has been proposed to trigger conscious emotional experiences. Here we reveal maps of bodily sensations associated with different emotions using a unique topographical self-report method. In five experiments, participants (n = 701) were shown two silhouettes of bodies alongside emotional words, stories, movies, or facial expressions. They were asked to color the bodily regions whose activity they felt increasing or decreasing while viewing each stimulus. Different emotions were consistently associated with statistically separable bodily sensation maps across experiments. These maps were concordant across West European and East Asian samples. Statistical classifiers distinguished emotion-specific activation maps accurately, confirming independence of topographies across emotions. We propose that emotions are represented in the somatosensory system as culturally universal categorical somatotopic maps. Perception of these emotion-triggered bodily changes may play a key role in generating consciously felt emotions.

 

Feb 08, 2014

An Inuit/Eskimo family in the Arctic 1959

The barren life of an Inuit family and their children in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Arctic Canada more than fifty years ago.

Why do I blog this? Just because I liked it.

 

21:33 Posted in Cyberart | Permalink | Comments (0)

Feb 02, 2014

Activation of the human mirror neuron system during the observation of the manipulation of virtual tools in the absence of a visible effector limb

Activation of the human mirror neuron system during the observation of the manipulation of virtual tools in the absence of a visible effector limb.

Neurosci Lett. 2013 Oct 25;555:220-4

Authors: Modroño C, Navarrete G, Rodríguez-Hernández AF, González-Mora JL

Abstract. This work explores the mirror neuron system activity produced by the observation of virtual tool manipulations in the absence of a visible effector limb. Functional MRI data was obtained from healthy right-handed participants who manipulated a virtual paddle in the context of a digital game and watched replays of their actions. The results show how action observation produced extended bilateral activations in the parietofrontal mirror neuron system. At the same time, three regions in the left hemisphere (in the primary motor and the primary somatosensory cortex, the supplementary motor area and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) showed a reduced BOLD, possibly related with the prevention of inappropriate motor execution. These results can be of interest for researchers and developers working in the field of action observation neurorehabilitation.

Effect of Meditation on Cognitive Functions in Context of Aging and Neurodegenerative Diseases

Effect of Meditation on Cognitive Functions in Context of Aging and Neurodegenerative Diseases.

Front Behav Neurosci. 2014;8:17

Authors: Marciniak R, Sheardova K, Cermáková P, Hudeček D, Sumec R, Hort J

Abstract. Effect of different meditation practices on various aspects of mental and physical health is receiving growing attention. The present paper reviews evidence on the effects of several mediation practices on cognitive functions in the context of aging and neurodegenerative diseases. The effect of meditation in this area is still poorly explored. Seven studies were detected through the databases search, which explores the effect of meditation on attention, memory, executive functions, and other miscellaneous measures of cognition in a sample of older people and people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases. Overall, reviewed studies suggested a positive effect of meditation techniques, particularly in the area of attention, as well as memory, verbal fluency, and cognitive flexibility. These findings are discussed in the context of MRI studies suggesting structural correlates of the effects. Meditation can be a potentially suitable non-pharmacological intervention aimed at the prevention of cognitive decline in the elderly. However, the conclusions of these studies are limited by their methodological flaws and differences of various types of meditation techniques. Further research in this direction could help to verify the validity of the findings and clarify the problematic aspects.

A low-cost sonification system to assist the blind

Via KurzweilAI.net

An improved assistive technology system for the blind that uses sonification (visualization using sounds) has been developed by Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) researchers, with the goal of replacing costly, bulky current systems.

Called Assistive Technology for Autonomous Displacement (ATAD), the system includes a stereo vision processor measures the difference of images captured by two cameras that are placed slightly apart (for image depth data) and calculates the distance to each point in the scene.

Then it transmits the information to the user by means of a sound code that gives information regarding the position and distance to the different obstacles,  using a small audio stereo amplifier and bone-conduction headphones.

Assistive Technology for Autonomous Displacement (ATAD) block diagram (credit: P. Revuelta Sanz et al.)

Jan 25, 2014

Chris Eliasmith – How to Build a Brain

Via Futuristic news

He’s the creator of “Spaun” the world’s largest brain simulation. Can he really make headway into mimicking the human brain?

Chris Eliasmith has cognitive flexibility on the brain. How do people manage to walk, chew gum and listen to music all at the same time? What is our brain doing as it switches between these tasks and how do we use the same components in head to do all those different things? These are questions that Chris and his team’s Semantic Pointer Architecture Unified Network (Spaun) are determined to answer. Spaun is currently the world’s largest functional brain simulation, and is unique because it’s the first model that can actually emulate behaviours while also modeling the physiology that underlies them.

 

This groundbreaking work was published in Science, and has been featured by CNN, BBC, Der Spiegel, Popular Science, The Economist and CBC.He is co-author of Neural Engineering , which describes a framework for building biologically realistic neural models and his new book, How to Build a Brain applies those methods to large-scale cognitive brain models.

Chris holds a Canada Research Chair in Theoretical Neuroscience at the University of Waterloo. He is also Director of Waterloo’s Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience, and is jointly appointed in the Philosophy, Systems Design Engineering departments, as well as being cross-appointed to Computer Science.
For more on Chris, visit http://arts.uwaterloo.ca/~celiasmi/
Source: TEDxTalks

MemoryMirror: First Body-Controlled Smart Mirror

The Intel® Core™ i7-based MemoryMirror takes the clothes shopping experience to a whole different level, allowing shoppers to try on multiple outfits, then virtually view and compare previous choices on the mirror itself using intuitive hand gestures. Users control all their data and can remain anonymous to the retailer if they so choose. The Memory Mirror uses Intel integrated graphics technology to create avatars of the shopper wearing various clothing that can be shared with friends to solicit feedback or viewed instantly to make an immediate in-store purchase. Shoppers can also save their looks in mobile app should they decide to purchase at a later time online.

Jan 23, 2014

Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on distressed (type D) personality traits

Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on distressed (type D) personality traits: a randomized controlled trial.

J Behav Med. 2013 Aug;36(4):361-70

 Authors: Nyklíček I, van Beugen S, Denollet J

Abstract. Distressed ('Type D') personality, the combination of negative affectivity (NA) and social inhibition (SI), has been associated with adverse health outcomes. The purpose of this study was to examine if an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program could reduce Type D personality characteristics. Distressed individuals from the Dutch general population (N = 146; mean age = 46.07; 69 % female) participated in a randomized trial comparing the mindfulness intervention with waitlist control. Although change in Type D caseness did not differ between groups, the intervention group showed stronger reductions for both NA (p < .001) and SI (p < .05) dimensions, even when change in state negative affect was statistically controlled. These effects were mediated by change in self-reported mindfulness. In conclusion, MBSR may reduce characteristics of the distressed personality type, likely through the mechanism of increased mindfulness.

Mobile biofeedback of heart rate variability in patients with diabetic polyneuropathy: a preliminary study

Mobile biofeedback of heart rate variability in patients with diabetic polyneuropathy: a preliminary study.

Clin Physiol Funct Imaging. 2014 Jan 20;

Authors: Druschky K, Druschky A

Abstract. Biofeedback of heart rate variability (HRV) was applied to patients with diabetic polyneuropathy using a new mobile device allowing regularly scheduled self-measurements without the need of visits to a special autonomic laboratory. Prolonged generation of data over an eight-week period facilitated more precise investigation of cardiac autonomic function and assessment of positive and negative trends of HRV parameters over time. Statistical regression analyses revealed significant trends in 11 of 17 patients, while no significant differences were observed when comparing autonomic screening by short-term HRV and respiratory sinus arrhythmia at baseline and after the 8 weeks training period. Four patients showed positive trends of HRV parameters despite the expected progression of cardiac autonomic dysfunction over time. Patient compliance was above 50% in all but two patients. The results of this preliminary study indicate a good practicality of the handheld device and suggest a potential positive effect on cardiac autonomic neuropathy in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Transparent display @MIT

The innovative system is described in a paper published in the journal Nature Communications, co-authored by MIT professors Marin Soljačić and John Joannopoulos, graduate student Chia Wei Hsu, and four others.

Abstract of Nature Communications paper:

The ability to display graphics and texts on a transparent screen can enable many useful applications. Here we create a transparent display by projecting monochromatic images onto a transparent medium embedded with nanoparticles that selectively scatter light at the projected wavelength. We describe the optimal design of such nanoparticles, and experimentally demonstrate this concept with a blue-color transparent display made of silver nanoparticles in a polymer matrix. This approach has attractive features including simplicity, wide viewing angle, scalability to large sizes and low cost.

 

 

 

Apple 1984

Jan 21, 2014

The Oculus Rift 'Crystal Cove' prototype is 2014's Best of CES winner

Jan 20, 2014

The Future of Gesture Control - Introducing Myo

Thalmic Labs at TEDxToronto

Jan 12, 2014

Wearable Pregnancy Ultrasound

Melody Shiue, an industrial design graduate from University of New South Wales, is proposing a wearable fetal ultrasound system to enhancing maternal-fetal bonding as a reassurance window. It is an e-textile based apparatus that uses 4D ultrasound. Latest stretchable display technology is also employed on the abdominal region, allowing other members of the family especially the father to connect with the foetus in its context. PreVue not only gives you the opportunity to interact and comprehend the physical growth of the baby, but also an early understanding of its personality as you see it yawning, rolling, smiling etc., bringing you closer till the day it finally rests into your arms.

More information at Tuvie

Dec 24, 2013

Speaking and cognitive distractions during EEG-based brain control of a virtual neuroprosthesis-arm

Speaking and cognitive distractions during EEG-based brain control of a virtual neuroprosthesis-arm.

J Neuroeng Rehabil. 2013 Dec 21;10(1):116

Authors: Foldes ST, Taylor DM

BACKGROUND: Brain-computer interface (BCI) systems have been developed to provide paralyzed individuals the ability to command the movements of an assistive device using only their brain activity. BCI systems are typically tested in a controlled laboratory environment were the user is focused solely on the brain-control task. However, for practical use in everyday life people must be able to use their brain-controlled device while mentally engaged with the cognitive responsibilities of daily activities and while compensating for any inherent dynamics of the device itself. BCIs that use electroencephalography (EEG) for movement control are often assumed to require significant mental effort, thus preventing users from thinking about anything else while using their BCI. This study tested the impact of cognitive load as well as speaking on the ability to use an EEG-based BCI. FINDINGS: Six participants controlled the two-dimensional (2D) movements of a simulated neuroprosthesis-arm under three different levels of cognitive distraction. The two higher cognitive load conditions also required simultaneously speaking during BCI use. On average, movement performance declined during higher levels of cognitive distraction, but only by a limited amount. Movement completion time increased by 7.2%, the percentage of targets successfully acquired declined by 11%, and path efficiency declined by 8.6%. Only the decline in percentage of targets acquired and path efficiency were statistically significant (p < 0.05). CONCLUSION: People who have relatively good movement control of an EEG-based BCI may be able to speak and perform other cognitively engaging activities with only a minor drop in BCI-control performance.

Case hand prosthesis with sense of touch allows amputees to feel

Via Medgadget

There have been a few attempts at simulating a sense of touch in prosthetic hands, but a recently released video from Case Western Reserve University demonstrates newly developed haptic technology that looks convincingly impressive. Here’s a video of an amputee wearing a prosthetic hand with a sensor on the forefinger, while blindfolded and wearing headphones that block any hearing, pulling stems off of cherries. The first part of the video shows him doing it with the sensor turned off and then when it’s activated.

For a picture of the electrode technology, please visit:http://www.flickr.com/photos/tylerlab/10075384624/

NeuroOn mask improves sleep and helps manage jet lag

Via Medgadget

A group of Polish engineers is working on a smart sleeping mask that they hope will allow people to get more out of their resting time, as well as allow for unusual sleeping schedules that would particularly benefit those who are often on-call. The NeuroOn mask will have an embedded EEG for brain wave monitoring, EMG for detecting muscle motion on the face, and sensors that can track whether your pupils are moving and whether they are going through REM. The team is currently raising money on Kickstarter where you can pre-order your own NeuroOn once it’s developed into a final product.

The Creative Link: Investigating the Relationship Between Social Network Indices, Creative Performance and Flow in Blended Teams

The Creative Link: Investigating the Relationship Between Social Network Indices, Creative Performance and Flow in Blended Teams

Andrea Gaggioli, Elvis Mazzoni, Luca Milani, Giuseppe Riva

Computers in Human Behavior. 01/2014; Forthcoming publication. DOI:10.1016/j.chb.2013.12.003

This study presents findings of an exploratory study, which has investigated the relationship between indices of social network structure, flow and creative performance in students collaborating in blended setting. Thirty undergraduate students enrolled in a Media Psychology course were included in five groups, which were tasked with designing a new technology-based psychological application. Team members collaborated over a twelve-week period using two main modalities: face-to-face meeting sessions in the classroom (once a week) and virtually using a groupware tool. Social network indicators of group interaction and presence indices were extracted from communication logs, whereas flow and product creativity were assessed through survey measures. Findings showed that specific social network indices (in particular those measuring decentralization and neighbor interaction) were positively related with flow experience. More broadly, results indicated that selected social network indicators can offer useful insight into the creative collaboration process. Theoretical and methodological implications of these results are drawn.

Evaluation of neurofeedback in ADHD: The long and winding road.

Evaluation of neurofeedback in ADHD: The long and winding road.

Biol Psychol. 2013 Dec 6;

Authors: Arns M, Heinrich H, Strehl U

Among the clinical applications of neurofeedback, most research has been conducted in ADHD. As an introduction a short overview of the general history of neurofeedback will be given, while the main part of the paper deals with a review of the current state of neurofeedback in ADHD. A meta-analysis on neurofeedback from 2009 found large effect sizes for inattention and impulsivity and medium effects sizes for hyperactivity. Since 2009 several new studies, including 4 placebo-controlled studies, have been published. These latest studies are reviewed and discussed in more detail. The review focuses on studies employing 1) semi-active, 2) active, and 3) placebo-control groups. The assessment of specificity of neurofeedback treatment in ADHD is discussed and it is concluded that standard protocols such as theta/beta, SMR and slow cortical potentials neurofeedback are well investigated and have demonstrated specificity. The paper ends with an outlook on future questions and tasks. It is concluded that future controlled clinical trials should, in a next step, focus on such known protocols, and be designed along the lines of learning theory.