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Psychology

Science

Give zebrafish some booze, and they stop fearing robots

With some help from a robotic fish, scientists have discovered that zebrafish are much like humans in at least one way – they get reckless when they get drunk. OK, “drunk” might not be technically accurate, but when exposed to alcohol, the fish show no fear of a robotic version of one of their natural predators, the Indian leaf fish. When they’re “sober,” they avoid the thing like crazy. The researchers believe that the experiments indicate a promising future for robots in behavioral studies. Read More

Science

Chatbot hunts for pedophiles

For a number of years now, police forces around the world have enlisted officers to pose as kids in online chat rooms, in an attempt to draw out pedophiles and track them down. Researchers at Spain’s University of Deusto are now hoping to free those cops up for other duties, and to catch more offenders, via a chatbot that they’ve created. Its name is Negobot, and it plays the part of a 14 year-old girl. Read More

Science

Conversation coach software works like a social simulator

Whether it’s a job interview or a hot date, there are certain interpersonal situations where we really want to be at our best. In some cases, we may even run through possible conversational scenarios in our heads beforehand, in order to “train” for the big event. The problem is, those imaginary interactions can’t provide us with unbiased feedback on what we could stand to improve. MIT’s new MACH (My Automated Conversation coacH) software, however, does exactly that. Read More

Health & Wellbeing

The doctor is in: Virtual therapist to help treat stress disorders

Researchers at the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Sciences (ICT) are developing a virtual therapist that can identify signs of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Bringing together machine learning, natural language processing and computer vision technologies, the SimSensei project is aimed at helping military personnel and their families, while reducing the stigma that is often associated with seeking help. Read More

Health & Wellbeing

Avatars help schizophrenics gain control of voices in their heads

Imagine if there was a voice in your head that regularly threatened to harm you or your loved ones, or that even ordered you to do so yourself. Awful as that would be, such auditory hallucinations are one of the most common symptoms of schizophrenia, with approximately one in four sufferers continuing to experience them even once taking anti-psychotic drugs. Fortunately, scientists have recently helped some schizophrenics gain control of their condition, by turning those voices into interactive avatars. Read More

Science

Take a deep breath – scientists working on a stress breath test

Most of us are able to let other people know that we’re stressed, simply by telling them. For people such as those suffering from Alzheimer’s, however, it can be difficult to express such a thought. That’s why UK scientists at Loughborough University and Imperial College London are developing a new test that can determine someone’s stress levels by analyzing their breath. Read More

Games

New tests developed for the addictive potential of computer games

Have you ever felt that one computer game is more "addictive" than another? Leaving definitions aside for the moment, it's fair to say that an addictive computer game is likely to be a more successful product than a game that is merely fun to play. Gaming developers apply numerous techniques and tests in an attempt to evaluate which games will hit the right buttons. Now researchers at Academia Sinica and the National Taiwan University (ASNTU) have developed a direct test for the addictiveness of a computer game based on physiological responses of a group of new players. Read More

New research explains why Facebook posts are so memorable

The success of social networks such as Facebook may provide clues to the type of information the human mind tends to favor. New research suggests human memory prefers spontaneous writing favored by users communicating online to grammatically polished text found in edited material. This the gist of the findings presented in a paper called Major Memory for Microblogs, which details the results of a research comparing memory retention of Facebook updates to book excerpts and faces.Read More

Giving smartphones emotional intelligence

It would be great if smartphones could sense moods – especially when they've dropped a call three times in five minutes. Engineers at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York have developed a prototype app that provides phones with a form of emotional intelligence that could have wide applications in phones and beyond. Read More

Health & Wellbeing

Biofeedback-augmented video game helps children curb their anger

Often, when people talk about children and the psychological effects of playing video games, it’s nothing good – there are certainly plenty of individuals who maintain that if a child spends too much time blowing away virtual enemies, they will become more aggressive, antisocial people in the real world. A new game developed at Boston Children's Hospital, however, is intended to do just the opposite. It helps children with anger problems to control their temper, so they’ll get along better with other people.Read More

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