Friday, August 29, 2008

eLearning,Interactive Hypermedia, Neuroscience

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Using mind control to talk to machines

Advancements in neuro-technology

A ZDNnet article with a video demonstration showing the capability of man machine communication.

At the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, the company's Justin Rattner talks to Emotiv Systems President Tan Le about new interface technologies that are making humans more like machines. In a demo for conference attendees, Le shows a headset Emotiv developed that can track electrical signals in the brain and interact with content on a PC.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Jon Kabat-Zinn Talk on Mindfulness Meditation

University of Massachusetts Medical School, Wo...Image via Wikipedia Herbert Benson at Harvard school of Medicine studied scientifically the meditation process and discovered the famous phenomenon of "Relaxation Response". It was found to help people in reducing their their stress levels. His brief bio
Dr. Benson is a pioneer in mind/body medicine, one of the first Western physicians to bring spirituality and healing into medicine. In his 35+ year career, he has defined the relaxation response and continues to lead teaching and research into its efficacy in counteracting the harmful effects of stress. The recipient of numerous national and international awards, Dr. Benson lectures widely about mind/body medicine and the BHI's work. His expertise is frequently sought by national and international news media, and he appears in scores of newspapers, magazines, and television programs each year. Dr. Benson's research extends from the laboratory to the clinic to Asian field expeditions. His work serves as a bridge between medicine and religion, East and West, mind and body, and belief and science.

His work on meditation is further enhanced by Jon Kabat-Zinn who is a practicing mindfulness meditation practitioner and educator along with his background in traditional medicine. His brief bio
Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., is a scientist, writer, and meditation teacher engaged in bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society. He gives public talks and workshops throughout the world on mindfulness and its applications for moving toward greater sanity and balance in today's multitasking, high-speed world. He is professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he was founding executive director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, and founder and former director of its world-renowned Stress Reduction Clinic.
The video here shows him leading an hour long session of mindful meditation at Google.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Brain Magic and Neuroscience

:de:en:Image:RANDI.Image via WikipediaBrain as a physical organ system serves the role of controller of all the body functions. It communicates with different parts of the body by sending and receiving messages through an elaborate network of interconnected Neurons. This is the fastest communication system human body uses alongwith the slow communication system through hormonal interchange.

One of the functions of the brain is to receive outside information through the five senses of vision, sound, smell,taste and touch and create a worldview for us out of this sensory data. The vision is the most dominant sense and plays a larger role in this process. It helps us in identifying objects. It helps us moving through the space and also to avert any potential dangers. In other words it has served us well. We rely on it.

Is it really hundred percent accurate? We would think that that is the case but that worldview is not hundred percent accurate. The magicians have devised elaborate tricks to deceive our visual sense. They use sleigh of hand to create an illusioray reality that defies our common sense but appears to be true. In most of the cases magicians use the quirks of the human vision system to design the magic tricks beside the older tricks based upon hypnotism. That itself is based upon the highly suggestible nature of human mind.

Here is a demonstration of some of these tricks by Magician Keith Barry at TED talk to show that how easy it is to trick the human mind in making it believe in alternate reality.
First, Keith Barry shows us how our brains can fool our bodies -- in a trick that works via podcast too. Then he involves the audience in some jaw-dropping (and even a bit dangerous) feats of brain magic.

Study of Optical Illusion is a well known area of Psychology. The psychologists have designed all kind of visual illusion to study the property of vision. Here is a list of some of the well known visual illusion designed by Psychologists. From these studies one can draw a general conclusion that our sense of vision is essential but it is not perfect as we would like to think. It could provide us with wrong conclusion and it can be manipulated or tricked into believing something that may or may not be true.

Recently neuroscientists collaborated with magicians and reported their findings in Nature Reviews Neuroscience journal. The article is available online here with the following title:

Attention and awareness in stage magic: turning tricks into research

authors: Stephen L. Macknik1, Mac King, James Randi2, Apollo Robbins, Teller, John Thompson & Susana Martinez-Conde

The article abstract:

Just as vision scientists study visual art and illusions to elucidate the workings of the visual system, so too can cognitive scientists study cognitive illusions to elucidate the underpinnings of cognition. Magic shows are a manifestation of accomplished magic performers' deep intuition for and understanding of human attention and awareness. By studying magicians and their techniques, neuroscientists can learn powerful methods to manipulate attention and awareness in the laboratory. Such methods could be exploited to directly study the behavioural and neural basis of consciousness itself, for instance through the use of brain imaging and other neural recording techniques.

The study is very important in the sense that it brings knowledgeable people from two diverse areas of neuroscience and magic together to solve the riddle of the human cognition.

The last sentence of the study's abstract is I think a bit of a stretch because we are really not sure what constitute consciousness. It will be a while till we piece all the information from scientific studies together to establish a one unified theory of consciousness if possible because there is a very strong possibility that we may end up not one but many consciousnesses fulfilling the demands placed upon us to survive in a dynamic world.

These studies does however, show that we do not possess perfect senses. We need to be extra careful when we are trying to base our decisions on the information we receive from ours senses.
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