Apr 29, 2012

The SoLoMo manifesto

The SoLoMo Manifesto is a free-downloadable white paper that explores the mega-markets of social, local, and mobile as a cohesive ecosystem of marketing technologies.

 

The manifesto has been produced by MomentFeed, a location-based marketing platform for the enterprise. It's an interesting reading. You can download this free whitepaper here.

Apr 20, 2012

Enhancement of motor imagery-related cortical activation during first-person observation measured by functional near-infrared spectroscopy

Enhancement of motor imagery-related cortical activation during first-person observation measured by functional near-infrared spectroscopy. 

Eur J Neurosci. 2012 Apr 18;

Authors: Kobashi N, Holper L, Scholkmann F, Kiper D, Eng K 

Abstract. It is known that activity in secondary motor areas during observation of human limbs performing actions is affected by the observer's viewpoint, with first-person views generally leading to stronger activation. However, previous neuroimaging studies have displayed limbs in front of the observer, providing an offset view of the limbs without a truly first-person viewpoint. It is unknown to what extent these pseudo-first-person viewpoints have affected the results published to date. In this experiment, we used a horizontal two-dimensional mirrored display that places virtual limbs at the correct egocentric position relative to the observer. We compared subjects using the mirrored and conventional displays while recording over the premotor cortex with functional near-infrared spectroscopy. Subjects watched a first-person view of virtual arms grasping incoming balls on-screen; they were instructed to either imagine the virtual arm as their own [motor imagery during observation (MIO)] or to execute the movements [motor execution (ME)]. With repeated-measures anova, the hemoglobin difference as a direct index of cortical oxygenation revealed significant main effects of the factors hemisphere (P = 0.005) and condition (P ≤ 0.001) with significant post hoc differences between MIO-mirror and MIO-conventional (P = 0.024). These results suggest that the horizontal mirrored display provides a more accurate first-person view, enhancing subjects' ability to perform motor imagery during observation. Our results may have implications for future experimental designs involving motor imagery, and may also have applications in video gaming and virtual reality therapy, such as for patients following stroke.

Neurofeedback using real-time near-infrared spectroscopy enhances motor imagery related cortical activation

Neurofeedback using real-time near-infrared spectroscopy enhances motor imagery related cortical activation. 

PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e32234 

Authors: Mihara M, Miyai I, Hattori N, Hatakenaka M, Yagura H, Kawano T, Okibayashi M, Danjo N, Ishikawa A, Inoue Y, Kubota K 

Abstract. Accumulating evidence indicates that motor imagery and motor execution share common neural networks. Accordingly, mental practices in the form of motor imagery have been implemented in rehabilitation regimes of stroke patients with favorable results. Because direct monitoring of motor imagery is difficult, feedback of cortical activities related to motor imagery (neurofeedback) could help to enhance efficacy of mental practice with motor imagery. To determine the feasibility and efficacy of a real-time neurofeedback system mediated by near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), two separate experiments were performed. Experiment 1 was used in five subjects to evaluate whether real-time cortical oxygenated hemoglobin signal feedback during a motor execution task correlated with reference hemoglobin signals computed off-line. Results demonstrated that the NIRS-mediated neurofeedback system reliably detected oxygenated hemoglobin signal changes in real-time. In Experiment 2, 21 subjects performed motor imagery of finger movements with feedback from relevant cortical signals and irrelevant sham signals. Real neurofeedback induced significantly greater activation of the contralateral premotor cortex and greater self-assessment scores for kinesthetic motor imagery compared with sham feedback. These findings suggested the feasibility and potential effectiveness of a NIRS-mediated real-time neurofeedback system on performance of kinesthetic motor imagery. However, these results warrant further clinical trials to determine whether this system could enhance the effects of mental practice in stroke patients.

Mental workload during brain-computer interface training

Mental workload during brain-computer interface training.

Ergonomics. 2012 Apr 16;

Authors: Felton EA, Williams JC, Vanderheiden GC, Radwin RG

Abstract. It is not well understood how people perceive the difficulty of performing brain-computer interface (BCI) tasks, which specific aspects of mental workload contribute the most, and whether there is a difference in perceived workload between participants who are able-bodied and disabled. This study evaluated mental workload using the NASA Task Load Index (TLX), a multi-dimensional rating procedure with six subscales: Mental Demands, Physical Demands, Temporal Demands, Performance, Effort, and Frustration. Able-bodied and motor disabled participants completed the survey after performing EEG-based BCI Fitts' law target acquisition and phrase spelling tasks. The NASA-TLX scores were similar for able-bodied and disabled participants. For example, overall workload scores (range 0-100) for 1D horizontal tasks were 48.5 (SD = 17.7) and 46.6 (SD 10.3), respectively. The TLX can be used to inform the design of BCIs that will have greater usability by evaluating subjective workload between BCI tasks, participant groups, and control modalities. Practitioner Summary: Mental workload of brain-computer interfaces (BCI) can be evaluated with the NASA Task Load Index (TLX). The TLX is an effective tool for comparing subjective workload between BCI tasks, participant groups (able-bodied and disabled), and control modalities. The data can inform the design of BCIs that will have greater usability.

Just 10 days left to apply for a place at 1st Summer School on Human-Computer Confluence

Just 10 days left to apply for a place at 1st Summer School on Human-Computer Confluence

HCC, Human-Computer Confluence, is an ambitious research program studying how the emerging symbiotic relation between humans and computing devices can enable radically new forms of sensing, perception, interaction, and understanding.

The Summer School will take place in Milan, Italy, on 18-20 July 2012, hosted and organized by the the Doctoral School in Psychology of the Faculty of Psychology at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano

The specific objectives of the Summer School are, firstly, to provide selected and highly-motivated participants hands-on experience with question-driven Human-Computer Confluence projects, applications and experimental paradigms, and secondly, to bring together project leaders, researchers and students in order to work on inter-disciplinary challenges in the field of HCC. Participants will be assigned to different teams, where they will be encouraged to work creatively and collaboratively on a specific topic.

The Summer School has up to 40 places for students interested in the emerging symbiotic relationship between humans and computing devices. There is no registration fee for the Summer School and financial aid will be available for a significant number of students towards travel and accommodation.

We look forward to your application!

 

 

 

Apr 04, 2012

Microsoft Academic Search: nice Science 2.0 service, wrong H-index calculation!

Yesterday I came across Microsoft Academic Search, supposingly the main contender of Google Scholar Citations.

Although the service provides a plenty of interesting and useful features (including customizable author profile pages, a visual explorer, open API and many others), I don't like AT ALL the fact that it publishes an author's profile, including publication's profile and list, without asking the permission to do that (as Google Scholar does).

But what is even worse, is that the data published are, in most cases, incomplete or incorrect (or at least, they seemed incorrect for most of the authors that I included in my search). And this is not limited to the list of the list of publications (which could be understandable) but it also affects the calculation of the H-index (which measures both the productivity and impact of a scholar, based on the set of the author's most cited papers and the number of citations that they have received in other publications).

Since in the last few years the H-index has become critical to measure researcher's importance, displaying an inaccurate value of this index on a author's profile is NOT appropriate. While Microsoft may object that its service is open for users to edit the content (actually, the Help Center informs that "If you find any wrong or out-of-date information about author profile, publication profile or author publication list, you can make corrections or updates directly online") my point is that you CANNOT FORCE someone to correct otherwise potentially wrong data concerning scientific productivity.

One could even suspect that Microsoft purposefully underestimates the H-index to encourage users to join the service in order to edit their data. I do not think that this is the case, but at the same time, I cannot exclude this possibility.

Anyway, these are my two cents and I welcome your comments.

p.s. Interested in other Science 2.0 topics? Join us on Linkedin 

Mar 31, 2012

Blogging from my iPad

BlogSpirit has developed a nice app that allows posting from the iPad/iPhone.

I am just trying it out.

If you are able to read this post, well, it does work (btw, this is Matilde)

mobile_picture

17:03 Posted in Social Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

Barriers to and mediators of brain-computer interface user acceptance

Barriers to and mediators of brain-computer interface user acceptance: focus group findings.

Ergonomics. 2012 Mar 29

Authors: Blain-Moraes S, Schaff R, Gruis KL, Huggins JE, Wren PA

Abstract. Brain-computer interfaces (BCI) are designed to enable individuals with severe motor impairments such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) to communicate and control their environment. A focus group was conducted with individuals with ALS (n=8) and their caregivers (n=9) to determine the barriers to and mediators of BCI acceptance in this population. Two key categories emerged: personal factors and relational factors. Personal factors, which included physical, physiological and psychological concerns, were less important to participants than relational factors, which included corporeal, technological and social relations with the BCI. The importance of these relational factors was analysed with respect to published literature on actor-network theory (ANT) and disability, and concepts of voicelessness and personhood. Future directions for BCI research are recommended based on the emergent focus group themes. Practitioner Summary: This manuscript explores human factor issues involved in designing and evaluating brain-computer interface (BCI) systems for users with severe motor disabilities. Using participatory research paradigms and qualitative methods, this work draws attention to personal and relational factors that act as barriers to, or mediators of, user acceptance of this technology.

How Stephen Wolfram Spent the Last 22 Years (behind the Computer)

Via Infoesthetics

Stephen Wolfram, the chief designer of Mathematica and the Wolfram Alpha computational knowledge engine, has been setting a new norm in the fields of lifelogging, the quantified self and personal analytics, by accumulating several Nicholas Felton-amounts of data during his personal life.

Stephen has recently posted several graphs, dotplots and timelines, in an attempt to make some sense out of his 1 million outgoing email messages since 1989 (containing about 33,000 distinct words), 100 million keystrokes since 2002, every calendar event and scheduled meeting since 2000, all phone calls since 2004, and all his physical activity since 2004. To top all that off, Stephen has also several backups of his computer filesystems going back to 1980, and managed to somehow digitize about 230,000 paper documents, resulting in an immense mountain of potentially useful and revealing information about his historical work habits.

Not surprisingly, the overall patterns are quite straightforward: meetings and collaborative work during the day, a dinner-time break, more meetings and collaborative work, and then in the later evening more individual work. Most larger scale trends and patterns relate to according shifts in attention towards new projects.

Everywhere I've Been: Mapping 3 Years Worth of Location Tracking

Via InfoAestetics

qeoloqi_map.jpg

Co-founder of Geoloqi Aaron Parecki is showing of the core services of this mobile platform for tracking and sharing location data, in the blog post "Everywhere I've Been".

The resulting maps are generated entirely from 2.5 million unique GPS points (about 1 point per 2 to 6 seconds), which were tracked by his iPhone or Android phone for the past 3.5 years (resulting also in some interesting battery issues).

The trajectories and itineraries on the maps have been colored by year, in order to reveal how his physical footprint changes over time due to the different locations of his house.

Hyper(reality) - The Last Tuesday Society

Project's description: Embodying the concept theorized by hyperrealism theories, the helmet provides a digital experience, immersing the user in an alternative version of reality seen through the helmet. Instead of having a static point of view, the user becomes able to navigate through the 3D environment enabling new behaviours specific to the hyperreal world while still having to physically interact with the real environment. Thus it creates an odd interface between these two states.

Hyper(reality) - The Last Tuesday Society from Maxence

The suit is composed of an helmet with high definition video glasses, an arduino glove with force sensors controlling the 3D view and a harness for the kinect. Each user experience is recorded and analysed, portraiting user behaviours during the experience. Immersed into this dream-like virtual space, the user gradually discovers the collection of curiosities. Behaviours are being modified, the notion of scale is being distorted, all this pushing the boundaries of the physical space. Venitian masks, stuffed animals and old scultpures start floating in the air around the user creating a new sensorial experience.


OutRun: Augmented Reality Driving Video Game

Impact of meditation training on the default mode network during a restful state

Impact of meditation training on the default mode network during a restful state.

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2012 Mar 24

Authors: Taylor VA, Daneault V, Grant J, Scavone G, Breton E, Roffe-Vidal S, Courtemanche J, Lavarenne AS, Marrelec G, Benali H, Beauregard M

Abstract. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to promote emotional stability. Moreover, during the processing of aversive and self-referential stimuli, mindful awareness is associated with reduced medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) activity, a central default mode network (DMN) component. However, it remains unclear whether mindfulness practice influences functional connectivity between DMN regions and, if so, whether such impact persists beyond a state of meditation. Consequently, this study examined the effect of extensive mindfulness training on functional connectivity within the DMN during a restful state. Resting-state data were collected from 13 experienced meditators (with over 1000 h of training) and 11 beginner meditators (with no prior experience, trained for 1 week before the study) using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Pairwise correlations and partial correlations were computed between DMN seed regions' time courses and were compared between groups utilizing a Bayesian sampling scheme. Relative to beginners, experienced meditators had weaker functional connectivity between DMN regions involved in self-referential processing and emotional appraisal. In addition, experienced meditators had increased connectivity between certain DMN regions (e.g. dorso-medial PFC and right inferior parietal lobule), compared to beginner meditators. These findings suggest that meditation training leads to functional connectivity changes between core DMN regions possibly reflecting strengthened present-moment awareness.

Neurofeedback for insomnia: a pilot study of Z-score SMR and individualized protocols

Neurofeedback for insomnia: a pilot study of Z-score SMR and individualized protocols.

Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2011 Dec;36(4):251-64

Authors: Hammer BU, Colbert AP, Brown KA, Ilioi EC

Abstract. Insomnia is an epidemic in the US. Neurofeedback (NFB) is a little used, psychophysiological treatment with demonstrated usefulness for treating insomnia. Our objective was to assess whether two distinct Z-Score NFB protocols, a modified sensorimotor (SMR) protocol and a sequential, quantitative EEG (sQEEG)-guided, individually designed (IND) protocol, would alleviate sleep and associated daytime dysfunctions of participants with insomnia. Both protocols used instantaneous Z scores to determine reward condition administered when awake. Twelve adults with insomnia, free of other mental and uncontrolled physical illnesses, were randomly assigned to the SMR or IND group. Eight completed this randomized, parallel group, single-blind study. Both groups received fifteen 20-min sessions of Z-Score NFB. Pre-post assessments included sQEEG, mental health, quality of life, and insomnia status. ANOVA yielded significant post-treatment improvement for the combined group on all primary insomnia scores: Insomnia Severity Index (ISI p<.005), Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Inventory (PSQI p<.0001), PSQI Sleep Efficiency (p<.007), and Quality of Life Inventory (p<.02). Binomial tests of baseline EEGs indicated a significant proportion of excessively high levels of Delta and Beta power (p<.001) which were lowered post-treatment (paired z-tests p<.001). Baseline EEGs showed excessive sleepiness and hyperarousal, which improved post-treatment. Both Z-Score NFB groups improved in sleep and daytime functioning. Post-treatment, all participants were normal sleepers. Because there were no significant differences in the findings between the two groups, our future large scale studies will utilize the less burdensome to administer Z-Score SMR protocol.

Stress, uncertainty and decision confidence

Stress, uncertainty and decision confidence.

Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2011 Dec;36(4):273-9

Authors: Heereman J, Walla P

Abstract. We successfully manipulated decision confidence in a probabilistic prediction task by means of stress as induced by excessive cognitive demands. In particular, our results indicate that decisions (based on high and low, but not intermediate levels of uncertainty) made under stress (confirmed by skin conductance measures) are associated with increased confidence when outcome probabilities are incompletely known (20% residual uncertainty). A different pattern was found when outcome probabilities were completely known (0% residual uncertainty). Here, stress led to decreased decision confidence when decisions were associated with intermediate levels of uncertainty but had no effect in case of high and low levels of uncertainty. In addition we provide evidence for ambiguity--(understood as implicit-risk) assessment being impaired under stress conditions.

Microsoft patents projector eyewear for Xbox and beyond

Via KurzweilAI

[+]mshmspatent

Illustrations from Microsoft's patent show the rough schematics for both a helmet-based display and one embedded in a pair of glasses (credit: Microsoft)

According to Patent Bolt, Microsoft has been secretly working on a video headset since September 2010.

A New Microsoft patent reveals that they’ve been working two styles of headset: an aviation styled helmet aimed at Xbox gamers, and one that resembles a pair of sunglasses for use with smartphones, MP3 players and other future devices.

In the patent, Microsoft states that a compact display system may be coupled into goggles, a helmet, or other eyewear. These configurations enable the wearer to view images from a computer, media player, or other electronic device with privacy and mobility. When adapted to display two different images concurrently — one for each eye — the system may be used for stereoscopic display (e.g., virtual-reality) applications.

Paul G. Allen adding $300M to expand the Allen Institute for Brain Science

Paul G. Allen has donated additional $300 million to the Allen Institute for Brain Science to expand its scientific programs, the Institute announced Wednesday March 21.

The Institute was established with a 2003 contribution of $100 million from the former Microsoft executive, who then donated another $100 million. The latest contribution of $300 million will support the first four years of a 10-year plan to address critical questions about how the brain works.

Bringing his total commitment to date to $500 million, Allen has charged the Institute with tackling some of the most fundamental and complex questions in brain science today.

Mar 28, 2012

Emotizer

Emotizer is a new emotional social network that allows you to bookmark places, people, objects, dreams and thoughts and link them to the emotions you're feeling within.

 

Istantanea iPhone 1
 
 
Istantanea iPhone 2

Mar 22, 2012

1st Summer School on Human Computer Confluence

 

The 1st Summer School on Human Computer Confluence will take place in Milan, Italy, on 18-20 July 2012.

The Summer School is hosted and organized by the Doctoral School in Psychology of the Faculty of Psychology at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano.

enquires: hcc.summerschool@unicatt.it

The specific objectives of the Summer School are to provide selected and highly-motivated participants hands-on experience with question-driven Human-Computer Confluence projects, applications and experimental paradigms, as well as to gather project leaders’ researchers and students working together on a list of inter-disciplinary challenges in the field of HCC. Participants will be assigned to different teams, working creatively and collaboratively on specific topics of interest.

The 1st Summer School will be addressed up to 40 Ph.D. students attendees, interested in the emerging symbiotic relation between humans and computing devices. There is no registration fee for the Summer School and financial aid will be available for a significant number of students towards travel and accommodation.

About Human Computer Confluence

HCC, Human-Computer Confluence, is an ambitious research program funded by the EU, studying how the emerging symbiotic relation between humans and computing devices can enable radically new forms of sensing, perception, interaction, and understanding.

The initiative aims to investigate and demonstrate new possibililities emerging at the confluence between  the human and technological realms. It will examine new modalities for individual and group perception, actions and experience in augmented, virtual spaces. Such virtual spaces would span the virtual reality continuum, also extending to purely synthetic but believable representation of massive, complex and dynamic data. Human-Computer confluence fosters inter-disciplinary research (such as Presence, neuroscience, machine learning and computer science) towards delivering unified experiences and inventing radically new forms of perception/action.

Mar 11, 2012

Augmenting cognition: old concept, new tools

The increasing miniaturization and computing power of information technology devices allow new ways of interaction between human brains and computers, progressively blurring the boundaries between man and machine. An example is provided by brain-computer interface systems, which allow users to use their brain to control the behavior of a computer or of an external device such as a robotic arm (in this latter case, we speak of “neuroprostetics”).

 

The idea of using information technologies to augment cognition, however, is not new, dating back in 1950’s and 1960’s. One of the first to write about this concept was british psychiatrist William Ross Ashby.

In his Introduction to Cybernetics (1956), he described intelligence as the “power of appropriate selection,” which could be amplified by means of technologies in the same way that physical power is amplified. A second major conceptual contribution towards the development of cognitive augmentation was provided few years later by computer scientist and Internet pioneer Joseph Licklider, in a paper entitled Man-Computer Symbiosis (1960).

In this article, Licklider envisions the development of computer technologies that will enable users “to think in interaction with a computer in the same way that you think with a colleague whose competence supplements your own.” According to his vision, the raise of computer networks would allow to connect together millions of human minds, within a “'thinking center' that will incorporate the functions of present-day libraries together with anticipated advances in information storage and retrieval.” This view represent a departure from the prevailing Artificial Intelligence approach of that time: instead of creating an artificial brain, Licklider focused on the possibility of developing new forms of interaction between human and information technologies, with the aim of extending human intelligence.

A similar view was proposed in the same years by another computer visionnaire, Douglas Engelbart, in its famous 1962 article entitled Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework.

In this report, Engelbart defines the goal of intelligence augmentation as “increasing the capability of a man to approach a complex problem situation, to gain comprehension to suit his particular needs, and to derive solutions to problems. Increased capability in this respect is taken to mean a mixture of the following: more-rapid comprehension, better comprehension, the possibility of gaining a useful degree of comprehension in a situation that previously was too complex, speedier solutions, better solutions, and the possibility of finding solutions to problems that before seemed insoluble (…) We do not speak of isolated clever tricks that help in particular situations.We refer to away of life in an integrated domain where hunches, cut-and-try, intangibles, and the human ‘feel for a situation’ usefully co-exist with powerful concepts, streamlined terminology and notation, sophisticated methods, and high-powered electronic aids.”

These “electronic aids” nowdays include any kind of harware and software computing devices used i.e. to store information in external memories, to process complex data, to perform routine tasks and to support decision making. However, today the concept of cognitive augmentation is not limited to the amplification of human intellectual abilities through external hardware. As recently noted by Nick Bostrom and Anders Sandberg (Sci Eng Ethics 15:311–341, 2009), “What is new is the growing interest in creating intimate links between the external systems and the human user through better interaction. The software becomes less an external tool and more of a mediating ‘‘exoself’’. This can be achieved through mediation, embedding the human within an augmenting ‘‘shell’’ such as wearable computers (…) or virtual reality, or through smart environments in which objects are given extended capabilities” (p. 320).

At the forefront of this trend is neurotechnology, an emerging research and development field which includes technologies that are specifically designed with the aim of improving brain function. Examples of neurotechnologies include brain training games such as BrainAge and programs like Fast ForWord, but also neurodevices used to monitor or regulate brain activity, such as deep brain stimulators (DBS), and smart prosthetics for the replacement of impaired sensory systems (i.e. cochlear or retinal implants).

Clearly, the vision of neurotechnology is not free of issues. The more they become powerful and sophisticated, the more attention should be dedicated to understand the socio-economic, legal and ethical implications of their applications in various field, from medicine to neuromarketing.