MindMods Blog

Mattel Jumps Into the Neurofeedback Game with Mind Flex

The "Force Trainer" wasn't the only new product unveiled at CES 2009 that uses Neurosky's new EEG neurofeedback system.  Even the toy mammoth Mattel has decided to test the waters with this new technology.  
 
mind flex biofeedback game by mattel
  

New Study Uses Biofeedback to Predict a Gamer's Gameplay



Hungarian researchers are using GSR Biofeedback in a new study using video games.

Laszlo Laufer and Bottyan Nemeth from the Budapest University of Technology and Economics

Ambient Corporation's New Human-Computer Interface called Audeo Intercepts Words When 'Thought'

A company called Ambient has developed a device that intercepts signals sent to the voice box from the brain via a sensor laden neck band. They claim to be able to decode these signals and match them to a pre-recorded series of words - even when the words are voiced out-loud. Theses 'words' can then be used to control things via a computer.

They are currently using this system to direct a motorized wheelchair, allowing a paralysed person to navigate without moving or speaking out-loud. Ambient is developing the technology with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago to help people with neurological problems operate computers and other electronic equipment despite their problems with muscle control.

 

This is the first time (that I know about, anyway) that a device has been able to convert electrical impulses from the brain into actual words. This is different from traditional EEG, which measures brainwaves, as it is analyzing signals outside the brain on their way to the larynx.

Audeo is currently selling a developer kit that allows researchers to develop new applications with their technology. If this works as well as they claim, the possibilities are endless.

 


Check out the rest of this article for a video presentation of the device.

Comparing the 3 Neurofeedback Gaming Interfaces

Emotiv's EPOC, NeuroSky's ThinkGear, and OCZ's NIA

emotiv epoc

The Epoc from Emotiv

Release Date: Summer 2009
Number of Electrodes: 16
Electrode Type: Pure Neural Signals / EEG
Movements: Head Rotation through two-axis gyros
Estimated Cost: $299
SDK Available? YES

 

 

 

Scientists Mimic Out-Of-Body Experience using Technology

Prof. Olaf Blanke and his colleagues from the Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience at EPFL in Switzerland have been doing research on the neural-correlates of out-of-body-experiences since at least 2002. This new study is very unusual, as they claim to be able to produce an out-of-body-experience when the user of special goggles is shown a projected image of themselves while being poked with a stick.

   

Out-of-body experiences are most common in people who endure intense meditation practices, experience sleep paralysis, and following certain types of head injuries. Research such as this strives to discover exactly how the brain creates the out-of-body-experience sensation.

It is arguable whether these experiencies re-produce bona-fide NBE's, but it is an interesting effect nonetheless.

NewScientist just posted a video to YouTube featuring Olaf's group inducing out-of-body-experiences:

 

Scientists use Pac-Man, Electric Shocks and Neuroimaging to study Fear in the Brain

Scientists from Wellcome Trust claim to have identified for the first time what happens in our brain in the face of an approaching fear. They measured activity in the brain using fMRI while a subject played a game similar to Pac-Man and received an electric-shocks when they were caught by the video game predator.

They found that activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (behind the eyebrows) increased when the enemy was in the distance - this part of the brain is active when one is planning how to respond to a threat. As the video game enemy approached, predominant activity shifted to the periaqueductal grey - the part of the brain responsible for flight or fight and preparing for reaction to pain.

The title of their study is 'Free Will Takes Flight', as it shows that we act more on impulse when a threat increases.

Abstract can be found here

Article in Science Magazine can be found here

Is Consciousness Definable? Video from PBS

PBS's Closer to Truth featuring Christof Koch, Leslie Brothers, Joseph E. Bogen & Stuart Hameroff try to answer this question. These four scientists have the same question but give four different answers.

 

Is Consciousness Definable?


One problem is that there are too many definitions! And getting these four guests to agree on what consciousness is and what causes it, is a fun but hopeless task that is revelatory at the same time. These four leading brain scientists couldn't even agree on at what level a simple "memory" was stored, whether as a gross "brain circuit," at the synapse between nerve cells, or in the microstructure of the nerve cells as some sort of quantum effect. But why should it be any different now? Philosophers have debated the "mind-body problem" and the existence of "free will" for thousands of years. However, never before have we been in a position to examine the brain with such precision. Even as we begin to understand the deep science that underlies our cognitive processes, there is no letup in arguments whether we are anything other than automata, just reacting to stimuli -- vastly more complex than a bacterium to be sure -- but fundamentally little different.


Although this spirited and highly qualified group manages to disagree on just about everything, in the midst, they give off a tremendous amount of information about the key issues involving the understanding of consciousness today: Are our "minds" just the artificial integration of multiple brain systems? Are our feelings of self, that unique personal sense of mental "qualia" (e.g., does the color "red" look the same to you as it does to me?) anything other an "epiphenomenon," seemingly real but in reality an illusion? How do firings of neurons, or ultimately vibrations of atoms, emerge up into human self-awareness? Psychiatrist/author Leslie Brothers firmly believes that there is something of the mind that is not in the brain, but it is not spirit or soul. To her, the seat of consciousness resides in the social interaction of living things between brain and brain in society. Says Brothers, without others to reflect ourselves off of, there would be no consciousness.

Click 'Read More' below to download the video

MindMods CogSciTech Consciousness Paper Posting #2

What is consciousness for? A History

This paper is called "Consciousness Redux" and is something of a history of theoretical positions on the function of consciousness. It was written by George Mandler of the University of California & University College London.

 

Consciousness Redux

George Mandler

University of California, San Diego and University College London

Copyright (C) 1993 George Mandler


I start with a review of 20 years of proposals on the functions of consciousness. I then present a minimal number of functions that consciouness subserves, as well as as some remaining puzzles about its psychology. In the process I stress a psychologist's functional approach, asking what consciousness is for. The result is an attempt to place conscious processes within the usual flow of human information processing.

MindMods CogSciTech Consciousness Paper Posting #1

Being Conscious of Ourselves

We're going to try and post an interesting paper on consciousness at least once a week. There are debates among those philosophers and scientists who study consciousness about pretty much every aspect of consciousness - especially about what consciousness actually is. Many of these are surprisingly easy to read, given the nature of their arguments.

This first paper called 'Being Conscious of Ourselves' was written by David M. Rosenthal and published in The Monist issue 82, 2 (April 2004) in a special issue on self-consciousness.

BEING CONSCIOUS OF OURSELVES

Abstract: I argue that we can explain how we are
conscious of ourselves by appeal to essentially indexical
thoughts we have about ourselves, in particular
about our own current mental states. I show that being
conscious of ourselves in that way doesn't require that
we are aware of ourselves in some privileged way that's
antecedent to the higher-order thoughts we have about
our own mental states. The account successfully
resists, moreover, challenges based on the so-called
immunity to error through misidentification. And an
account based on such higher-order thoughts, finally,
also does justice to the way we identify and locate
ourselves as creatures in the world.



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