MindMods Blog

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.


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.

Video: Ken Wilbur enters into various meditative states during a EEG Neurofeedback session

You may have already seen this, but it is new to me. Ken Wilbur narrates a video of his own experience using neurofeedback while navigating various meditative states.

From YouTube:

MorrisonDance - A dance performance using BrainMaster Neurofeedback


MorrisonDance, a dance troupe founded by choreographer Sarah Morrison, teamed up with a team of engineers

from NASA's Glenn Research Center to create a performance featuring live brainwaves of dancers using the



High School Student's Biofeedback Research Project Accepted at Conference

Nancy Leo, a senior at Arizona's Hamilton High School, had her science fair research project selected as one of 18 projects to be presented at the Sixth World Congress on Stress in Austria.


What is Brain Plasticity?

Discussion on brain plasticity, or neuroplasticity, has increased during the past several years. What is it and why should we be concerned about it? Our brains can migrate activity associated with specific functions to a different location as a result of neuroplasticity. This is an extremely important ability to have after a brain injury or even after normal experience (such as aging). Neuroplasticity allows the brain to re-wire itself as a response to changes in the environment. It is also what is behind the learning process and memory formation.

Free Access to a Variety of Neuroscience and Neurology Journals From Sage Pub.

Free access to:

Journal of Biological Rhythms

The Neuroscientist

Researchers use fMRI to Determine Brain Activation Location during Placebo Effect

From NPR


Tor Wagner from Columbia University (and colleagues) used an fMRI study to what parts of the brain are activated when patients experience the placebo effect.

Video: Split Brain Behavioral Experiments

The patient in the video had his corpus callosum removed in order to stop his seizures due to epilepsy. The procedure prevented the hemispheres from communicating with one another in any way and caused a sort of 'split consciousness'.

To reduce the severity of his seizures, Joe had the bridge between his left and right cerebral hemisphers (the corpus callosum) severed. As a result, his left and right brains no longer communicate through that pathway. Here's what happens as a result:

Video: Interesting Experiment - Richard Dawkins on the God Machine

Michael Persinger is a neuropsychologist at Canada's Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario. His theory is

that the sensation described as "having a religious experience" is merely a side effect of our bicameral brain's

feverish activities. He has attempted to create experiments to show that when the right hemisphere of the brain

is stimulated in the cerebral region presumed to control notions of self, and then the left hemisphere is called

An article on Lucid Dreaming from the New York Times

lucid dreaming consciousness unconsciousness  

This was from yesterday's New York Times - an article called 'Living Your Dreams, in a Manner of Speaking'. It talks a little about the concept of lucid dreaming, but also focuses on a new movie being written and directed by Jake Paltrow called "The Good Night".

the good night movie lucid dreaming 

Living Your Dreams, in a Manner of Speaking

Established sleep researchers say lucid dreaming is occasionally reported by subjects, though it is difficult to validate scientifically. “Yes, lucid dreaming exists,” said Dr. Rodney Radtke, the medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Duke University. “Yes, people certainly can, within their dream, realize ‘this is just a dream’ and continue to participate.”


“Do I believe that someone could potentially alter or interact with their dreams in such a way that they could change the dream? Yes,” he said. “Do I think that you could essentially design a dream — ‘Oh, I want to go to Honolulu and have this big hunk hit on me’? It’s a bit of a stretch. But I can’t say it can’t happen.”

He added: “Only in New York or California do they worry about this stuff.”

Stephen LaBerge, a psychophysiologist and the founder of the Lucidity Institute (lucidity.com), conducts lucid dream research and
teaches people to do it.

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible,” Dr. LaBerge said. “Fly. Dream sex. That’s what everybody likes to do. There’s also the possibility of creative problem-solving, overcoming nightmares and anxieties, learning more about yourself.”

A student at Stanford University, where Dr. LaBerge conducted much of his research, wrote in The Stanford Daily: “In one of my earliest experiences with lucidity, I announced to an auditorium full of people that I was their god (wasn’t I?). When they did not respond deferentially, I used telekinesis to send one of them flying across the room.”

It can be particularly appealing to those who have nightmares, as it allows them to realize while still asleep that they are just dreaming.

Interest in these potential real-world benefits and the otherworldly freedoms of lucid dreaming — as well as the questions it provokes about the precarious nature of reality — has spurred the invention and evolution of seemingly wacky dream aids. There are masks with lights and sounds; Orwellian devices that announce THIS IS A DREAM! in the middle of the night; and pills.

At the Hawaii gathering next month, attendees will be able to check out Dr. LaBerge’s NovaDreamer, a mask meant to light up during REM sleep and cue the person entangled in the sheets that he or she is dreaming. It is based on the notion that people can make a plan while awake and then execute it in their dreams. A light or sound is meant to remind them of their goal of lucid dreaming without actually waking them up. Participants may also take part in experiments with an herbal version of a drug that impacts acetylcholine, a neurotransmitting compound that affects memory.

As bizarre as these things may sound, there is a scientific rationale for cueing users during REM sleep. “REM-sleep dreams are much more visual,” said Matthew P. Walker, the director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, and a former assistant professor of psychology at the Harvard Medical School. “They have a strong narrative that runs through them. They’re hallucinogenic.”

There are several reasons for this, including that the lateral prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain involved in logical reasoning and working memory, becomes more inactive during REM sleep, while other areas of the brain, like the visual and emotional centers, rev up.

Scientists, however, are still trying to discover the difference between the dreaming brain and the lucid-dreaming brain. The leading candidate, Dr. Walker said, is the lateral prefrontal cortex. He thinks that during REM sleep, the activity level of this logic-oriented part of the brain begins to rise back to waking levels, and when it does, an invisible switch is flipped and the sleeper gains lucidity. “In the next five years, I think somebody will demonstrate that,” he said.

Lucid-dream researchers say there are myriad mental exercises a person can do during waking hours to try to become cognizant while dreaming. One technique involves performing various reality checks many times a day — such as looking at the numbers on a watch, looking away, and then looking at them again to make sure that night has not suddenly become day. The theory is that if a person does this regularly while awake, he or she will likely repeat it while dreaming and will recognize inconsistencies — if, say, the watch is melting in a Dali-esque way. Then the sleeper will think: “This looks surreal. I must be dreaming.”

more after the jump

The passing of time in dreams - A study using Lucid Dreams


The following is a study used lucid dreamers to determine the subjective measurement of time in dreams - by Daniel Erlacher and Michael
Schredl from Germany.

Time required for motor activity in lucid dreams


Daniel Erlacher - Institute for Sport and Sport Science, University of Heidelberg, Germany

Michael Schredl - Sleep laboratory, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany




The present study investigated the relationship between the required time for specific tasks (counting and performing squats) in lucid dreams and in the waking state. Five proficient lucid dreamers (26-34 years old, M = 29.8, SD = 3.0; one woman and four men) participated in this study. The results showed that the time needed for counting in a lucid dream is comparable to the time needed for counting in wakefulness, but motor activities required more time in lucid dreams than in the waking state.





The relationship between subjectively estimated time in dreams and real time has intrigued scientists for centuries (cf. Hall, 1981). Maury (1861) reported a long and intense dream about the French revolution which ended with the dreamer in the guillotine and the sleeper waking up with a piece of his wooden bed top having fallen on his neck. Because of the logical line of dream action, Maury (1861) hypothesized that the dream was generated backwards by the arousing stimulus. Nowadays, the hypothesis is widely accepted that the subjectively experienced time in dreams corresponds with the actual time (overview: Schredl, 2000). This relationship was first experimentally demonstrated by Dement and Kleitman (1957). In this study, the participants were awakened in a random order either after 5 or 15 minutes of REM sleep. After awakening, participants were asked to estimate whether the elapsed sleep interval was 5 or 15 minutes. From 111 awakenings, 83 % judgments were correct. Furthermore, the elapsed time of the REM period correlated with the length of the dream report (from r=.40 to r=.71). The latter findings were replicated by Glaubman and Lewin (1977), as well as by Hobson and Stickgold (1995). Rosenlicht, Maloney, and Freiberg (1994) found only small differences between time of REM sleep and the reported length of dreams. Overall, these studies support the idea that dreams take the same amount of time the actions would take in waking.


Lucid dreams might be particularly applicable to study time intervals in dreams, because lucid dreamers are able of executing prearranged tasks in their lucid dreams and mark the beginning and the end of the task with eye signals that can be measured objectively by electrooculogram (EOG) recording (cf. Erlacher, Schredl, & LaBerge, 2003). The term “lucid dream” designates a dream in which the dreamer, while dreaming, is aware that she or he is dreaming and she or he can consciously influence the action in the dream (Tholey & Utecht, 1997; LaBerge, 1985). In a pilot study, LaBerge (1985) showed that time intervals for counting from one to ten in lucid dreams (by counting from one-thousand-and-one to one-thousand-and-ten) are close to the time intervals for counting during wakefulness.


We hypothesized, that there is no difference between the time needed for counting or performing a motor activity in a lucid dream and the time needed for the same activities performed in the waking state.


more after the jump

A Young Person's Guide to Brainwave Music

Forty Years of Audio from the Human EEG

This is a great article from the now defunct Canadian magazine 'HorizonZero'. The zine was a multimedia web magazine about digital art and culture in Canada. This article is from issue 15 published in 2004 - but this is the first time I've seen it. This article was written by Andrew Brouse.

You can check out the other issues at http://www.horizonzero.ca

Young Chimps are Better than Adults in Numerical Memory Task?


Sana Inoue and Tetsuro Matsuzawa of Kyoto University showed a computer screen grid of nine numbers to six chimpanzees. The chimps were previously trained to recognize the ascending nature of the numbers. They were also shown to nine college students. When subjects touched one of the numbers, all of the others vanished. They then had to touch the squares in the order of the numbers that used to be there.

When the numbers flashed for just four-tenths of a second or less, one of the chimps beat all of the college students.

Here's the press release from 'Current Biology', a publication of Cell Press:

The Science of Sarcasm

From the New York Times:


There was nothing very interesting in Katherine P. Rankin’s study of sarcasm — at least, nothing worth your important time. All she did was use an M.R.I. to find the place in the brain where the ability to detect sarcasm resides. But then, you probably already knew it was in the right parahippocampal gyrus.

What you may not have realized is that perceiving sarcasm, the smirking put-down that buries its barb by stating the opposite, requires a nifty mental trick that lies at the heart of social relations: figuring out what others are thinking. Those who lose the ability, whether through a head injury or the frontotemporal dementias afflicting the patients in Dr. Rankin’s study, just do not get it when someone says during a hurricane, “Nice weather we’re having.”

Thinking up beautiful music

Musicians may soon be able to play instruments using just the power of the mind.


By Andrew Webb

Technology reporter, BBC News



Researchers at Goldsmiths, University of London have developed technology to translate thoughts into musical notes.


The Brain Computer Interface for Music requires electrodes to be attached to the head.


They pick up electrical impulses from the brain which are passed through an electroencephalography (EEG) machine and analysed.


The man behind the project, Dr Mick Grierson, demonstrated the system to BBC News.


When musical notes flash the scientist stares at the display while thinking of a note he wants to play.


When the same note appears it unconsciously triggers a change in his brain activity - a change registered by the computer he was plugged into.


"After a while it will make a decision about which note I am thinking about and it tries to play it," he said.


Dr Grierson has run trials in which 6 out of 8 notes played were the same as those being thought of.


Nintendo Wii to use EEG for controlling games?


From T3

Mind-controlled Nintendo Wii 2.0 set to rock Mario's console galaxy?


EEG coherence effects of audio-visual stimulation (AVS)

at dominant and twice dominant alpha frequency


EEG coherence effects of audio-visual stimulation (AVS) at dominant and twice dominant alpha frequency

eeg coherence


Jon A. Frederick, Ph.D.* DeAnna L. Timmermann, Ph.D.** Harold L. Russell, Ph.D.*** Joel F. Lubar, Ph.D.****


Journal of Neurotherapy, In Press


*Corresponding author. Center for Computational Biomedicine, University of Texas Houston Health Science Center, 7000 Fannin Suite 600, Houston, TX 77030. (713) 500-3464, email: smiile@psynet.net

**Department of Psychology, Eastern Oregon University, One University Avenue, LaGrande, OR 97850.

***P.O. Box 240, Galveston, TX, 77553.

****Department of Psychology, University of Tennessee, 307 Austin Peay, Knoxville, TN 37996.

SUMMARY. The effects of a single session of audio-visual stimulation (AVS) at the dominant alpha rhythm and twice-dominant alpha frequency on EEG coherence were studied in 23 subjects. An eyes-closed baseline EEG determined each subject's dominant alpha frequency. Subjects were stimulated at their dominant alpha frequency or at twice dominant alpha frequency for twenty minutes, while EEG was recorded in 5-minute intervals. A post-session baseline was recorded 30 minutes after each session. AVS decreased coherence in the intrahemispheric projections from the occipital region and the parietal midline, and generally increased coherence, with few exceptions, among all other longitudinal pairs. Interhemispheric coherence increased posteriorily and high frequencies, and tended to decrease frontally and low frequencies. Alpha AVS was more effective than twice-alpha AVS at producing interhemispheric synchronization, and tended to produce more effects overall. Although main effects of frequency and time were observed, when individual coherence pairs changed, they almost always changed in only one direction. Overall coherence was greater during the first ten minutes than the last ten minutes, and greatest in the beta 1 and delta 2 bands, and lowest in the alpha and delta 1 bands. Few, if any, significant effects persisted into the post-stimulation baseline. A new method of assessing the effects of multiple comparisons on experimentwise error, based on randomization theory, is proposed and implemented.

Click 'Read More' below for the rest

Can Freud's Theory of Dreams Hold Up Against Modern Neuroscience?


Can Freud's Theory of Dreams Hold Up Against Modern Neuroscience?

biofeedback and light and sound mind machines 

This following is an excerpt from an article printed in 'The Believer' magazine written by Rachel Aviv. Oct 2007

It wasn’t until the 1950s, fifty years after the publication of The Interpretation of Dreams,that scientists began bringing people into their labs for sleepovers. They’d spray water on them, or rub their faces with cotton puffs, or ring a bell and then wake them up and see what happened. Volunteers were kept up for days and watched closely, to see whether or not they’d go insane. The early experiments were crude and often conducted by psychiatrists trained in Freudian theory. One prominent researcher studied sexual dream symbols by attempting to correlate erections (he wrapped a nooselike device around the sleeper’s penis) with aggressive dream content, like dog- and snakebites, knife fights, and scenes of choking. He was able to correctly predict tumescence seven times out of eight.

Other researchers took a sociological approach to dreams, meticulously cataloging their content: women dream of men more than men dream of women; black people are more likely to be physically damaged in their dreams than white people; 80 percent of adult dreams have a negative component—their hair looks bad or they can’t find their keys or their kid won’t stop crying—and after ninth grade, children’s dreams become significantly more aggressive.

The field of dream research deals with the worst kind of data: reported by groggy volunteers, grasping at half-formed memories. Once you wake someone up, you’ve already interfered with the evidence. Hobson’s Activation-Synthesis model was so well received, in part, because it was based on neuroscience, not subjective reports. Rosalind Cartwright, chair of psychology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, who is well known for her research on how dreams affect mood, recalls first hearing Hobson propose his model at a conference in the early ’70s. “A bunch of us were sitting next to each other and we said, ‘You got it the wrong way around! We won’t let your physiological tail wave our psychological dream-dog!’ I used to say about Allan, ‘Oh the trouble is, he’s looking at cell recordings, he’s not talking to people—if he were paying attention to his own dreams, he would be smarter at it.’ When he did start paying attention to these things, I felt he modified his ideas a good deal.”

Only in recent years has Hobson become willing to talk more about the part of dreams that most people are interested in—feelings, symbols, characters, themes. After waking up from a particularly vivid nightmare, few of us are wondering, What part of my brain was just functioning? With practice and the help of a Nightcap (a bandanna device that beeps every few hours, wakes you up, then records whatever you say about your interrupted dream), Hobson began focusing more on the softer side of his field. “I love to talk about my dreams,” he said at the consciousness conference last year. “I’m not sure any of it really makes any difference, or that I learn anything I didn’t know, but it’s a wonderful, wonderful thing to do.”

His enthusiasm for dreams became even more pronounced when, for a startling month in 2001, he lost the ability to have them. While vacationing in Monte Carlo, Hobson suffered a stroke that affected the precise part of the brain stem that he began his career studying. He knew how his body would respond because he had done countless experiments on how damage to this area affects lab cats. He became nauseous, lost balance, and felt he was drowning in his own saliva. For eight days, he lost the ability to fall asleep. For a month, he couldn’t dream. He felt himself becoming psychotic with exhaustion. Like Freud, inventor of the talking cure, dying of oral cancer, Hobson seemed to have the perfect affliction. “I was wide awake all night long,” he recalls. “I said to myself, I am a cat. I am an experimental animal. But this is no experiment.”

Click 'Read More' below for the rest.

Tactile-Emotion Synaesthesia

bleeding senses into one another with jeans 

I just saw this on the great blog 'Neuro Philosophy'.

Emotiv Epoc EEG Brain-Wave PC controller delayed until 2009

The release of the much anticipated Emotiv Systems Epoc is delayed until next year, according to Big Download. They were told by a Emotiv PR representative that the device is being delayed so that it works as planned when released.

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6:22am April 19-5:00 GMT