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Psychology

Science

Volunteers needed to test dream-controlling app

In what is being touted as “the world's largest dream experiment,” a psychologist from Britain’s University of Hertfordshire is inviting volunteers to try using an iPhone app to control their dreams. Prof. Richard Wiseman teamed up with the developers at software company YUZA to create Dream:ON, an app that plays soundscapes while its user sleeps, intended to shape what sort of dreams they have. The project comes in response to a UK survey conducted by Wiseman, in which 15% of respondents claimed that they frequently suffered from unpleasant dreams. Read More

Science

Computer outperforms humans at detecting lies, by watching the speaker's eyes

If the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey taught us anything, it’s that computers know when we’re telling a lie. While that may not actually be the case for most computers in real life, it could be if they’re running a program created by scientists from the University at Buffalo. Building on a previous psychological study, the team produced software that allowed a computer to assess a speaker’s eye movements, to determine whether or not they were telling the truth in a prerecorded conversation. It turns out that the computer was able to correctly able to spot their lies with 82.5% accuracy. According to the researchers, a trained human interrogator only manages a success rate of about 65%. Read More

Good Thinking

Childrens' thought processes could inspire better computers

Children are sometimes referred to as “sponges,” not because they live off our earnings, but because of their remarkable ability to learn things quickly. Psychologists believe this is because their brains are still wired for learning and exploration – essential qualities for building neural connections – whereas adult minds tend to focus on specific goals, at the expense of imagination and curiosity. Now, scientists from the University of California, Berkeley are studying the cognitive functions of babies, toddlers and preschoolers, in hopes of using their findings to make computers think more like humans.Read More

Science

Emotion-detecting digital tutor boosts students' grades

As proposed by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, “flow” is an ideal psychological state in which we are engaged enough by a task not to find it boring, and yet not so challenged by it that we get discouraged. When learning new subjects, however, students often end up falling at one end or the other of that scale. Now, a new computerized tutoring system has been developed to keep students in the “flow” zone. It does so by monitoring their emotional state, then adjusting its teaching method to steer them away from boredom or frustration.Read More

Science

Genius Swedish computer program has IQ of 150

Researchers at the Department of Philosophy, Linguistics, and Theory of Science at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden have developed a psychological model of patterns as seen and selected by humans, and incorporated it in their IQ test solving programs. By doing so they have created a computer program that can score 150 on standard non-verbal IQ test questions.Read More

Health & Wellbeing

Smartphone tech battles drug abuse and depression

Some day, perhaps soon, it's possible that your smartphone could stop you from shutting yourself off from the world, or turning to illicit substances to deal with the stresses of life. Two separate studies are currently under way, looking at how smartphone-enabled technologies could be used to monitor peoples' levels of stress or depression, and then take action to keep them from making the wrong choices.Read More

Good Thinking

Yumemiru app aims to let you control your dreams

We all wish we could control what our dreams are at night, whether it's to pretend we have powers like Superman or simply to enjoy a relaxing stroll through a mansion on the Moon that happens to have a talking lion for a butler, complete with monocle. Sadly, we're still a long way away from programming our sleeping moments like a Netflix queue, but one Japanese app may have a quick solution. The Yumemiru app for iOS can detect when you enter dream sleep and then plays a soundtrack to influence what happens in your dreams.Read More

Science

BodyWave lets you control a PC with your mind - without a headset

A bio-feedback armband called BodyWave is the first of its kind to measure brainwave activity through the body, not the scalp. Instead of an EEG headset recording a user's concentration level, the Bodywave reads brainwaves at the arm by measuring the electric current given off by neurons firing in the brain. Bundled with an interactive software package called Play Attention, it reportedly enables interactive feedback and training towards peak mental performance. Apart from the obvious potential in sport, its ability to train attention and teach stress-control in mobile situations (much less obtrusively than wearing a headset) opens up wider potential. It has already found applications in education, industry and the military as well as in improving the lives of people with disabilities like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Read More

Science

Matrix-style instant learning could be one step closer

How would you like to have the ability to play the piano downloaded into your brain? You might not end up with the same sense of achievement, but it sure would be a lot quicker and easier than years of lessons and practicing. Well, we're not there yet (and perhaps we never should be), but that sort of scenario is now a little closer to reality, thanks to research conducted at Boston University and ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan. Read More

Good Thinking

Proposed rating system would indicate how much photos have been retouched

Even though we know that the photos we see of models and celebrities are retouched, many of us nonetheless can’t help but think “Yeah, but even without that little bit of airbrushing, that person still looks way better than me.” For most people, such thoughts are merely a little bit humbling. For others, however, they can lead to Body Dysmorphic Disorder, eating disorders, or severely-low self-esteem – all of which can in turn have very serious consequences, including death. Perhaps if those people knew just how retouched that one photo of Mila Kunis or Ryan Gosling was, however, they might realize how much of a lie it really represented. That’s why researchers at New Hampshire’s Dartmouth College are proposing a system that objectively assesses the extent of changes made to a photograph, then displays that amount as a number rating on the published photo.Read More

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