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Psychology

— Games

Study suggests that relaxing video games make players happier

By - June 8, 2011 1 Picture
Although you might have a big grin on your face as you're blowing away your opponents when playing Halo, you would actually be happier if you were playing a game like Endless Ocean, in which you interact with marine life - at least, that's what Ohio State University's Brad Bushman will tell you. The professor of communication and psychology conducted two studies, each with over 100 subjects, and has concluded that playing relaxing, nonviolent video games leaves people in a happier, more sociable mood than if they had played fast, violent games. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Researchers simulate schizophrenia in a computer

By - May 8, 2011 1 Picture
One of the theories regarding the cause of schizophrenia suggests that, due to an excessive release of dopamine, the brain remembers too many irrelevant things. Schizophrenics are then overwhelmed by the vast amounts of facts, thoughts and memories all crammed together in their heads, and start processing them into conclusions that aren't based in reality. It's called the hyperlearning hypothesis, and researchers at the University of Texas in Austin recently tried to see if they could simulate it – in a computer. Read More
— Pets

iPet Companion lets people play with real kitties over the internet

By - March 31, 2011 3 Pictures
It seems to be one of those “well-known facts” that petting an animal can lower a person’s blood pressure – and yes, we’re assuming that the animal isn’t a piranha. Unfortunately, many people are unable to own a pet, or they at least have to spend their stressful workday away from their cuddly critter. A new system called iPet Companion, however, lets users play with real, live cats – in real time – via the internet. Read More
— Telecommunications

Prioritizing system measures stress in emergency services callers' voices

By - March 21, 2011 1 Picture
Chances are that if you're calling 9-1-1 (or 9-9-9, or whatever it is where you are), you're not likely to tell the operator that your case isn't all that urgent, and that it can wait. The problem is, sometimes emergency dispatch centers are so overloaded with callers – all of them stating that they need assistance right now – that some sort of system is required in order to determine who should get help first. Dutch researchers claim to have developed just such a system, which analyzes callers' voices to determine how stressed-out they are. Read More
— Science

What humans really want - creating computers that understand users

By - March 7, 2011 4 Pictures
Binghamton University computer scientist Lijun Yin thinks that using a computer should be a comfortable and intuitive experience, like talking to a friend. As anyone who has ever yelled “Why did you go and do that?” at their PC or Mac will know, however, using a computer is currently sometimes more like talking to an overly-literal government bureaucrat who just doesn’t get you. Thanks to Yin’s work with things like emotion recognition, however, that might be on its way to becoming a thing of the past. Read More
— Robotics

Elfoid: creepy mini-robot meets smartphone

By - March 4, 2011 6 Pictures
We can’t say we weren’t warned. Last August, Japan’s Eager Co. Ltd. announced that it was planning to begin sales of the Telenoid R1 telepresence robot in October. The toddler-sized ghostly-looking robot is intended to be a physical stand-in for a remote user during internet communications, mirroring that person’s movements via real-time face tracking software on their computer – their voice also comes out of the device. Well, Telenoid now has a little sibling. The Elfoid P1, as it’s called, was unveiled at a press conference yesterday in Japan, and is intended to serve as a combination mobile phone and mini telepresence robot. Read More
— Science

Scientists claim that 'self' can relocate to other bodies, or be made to include a third arm

By - February 24, 2011 2 Pictures
For millennia, philosophers have debated whether or not the self exists solely in the mind, the body, or both. Well, it’s unclear whether this will help clear things up or just muddy the waters further, but Swedish neuroscientists are now claiming that the human brain can add outside objects such as a third arm to one’s physical sense of self, and that people can even mentally project their “self” out of their own body and into someone else’s. If these findings hold up, the implications for virtual reality, robotics and prostheses could be substantial. Read More
— Science

New research reveals the root of musical pleasure

By - January 24, 2011 5 Pictures
We all know that certain pieces of music can evoke strong emotional responses in people. Now, a research team from Canada's McGill University has uncovered evidence that reveals exactly what causes such feelings of euphoria and ecstasy and why music is so important in human society. Using a combination of brain scanning technologies, the study has shown that the same neurotransmitter which is associated with feeling pleasure from sex and food is released in the brain when listening to good music. Read More
— Good Thinking

Noise-canceling device plugs into your MP3 player, removes sound of dental drill

By - January 14, 2011 1 Picture
Hands up, who doesn't get just the teensiest bit nervous about going to the dentist? Not many of you, I'll wager. Dentophobia – fear of dentists and dental care – is one of the most common phobias, and it's the high-pitched whine of the dentist's drill that causes most anxiety. If this applies to you, take heart. You may soon be able to relax (or at least tune out the sound of the drill) and listen to music on your own MP3 player, connected to a noise-canceling device developed by Kings College London in conjunction with Brunel University and London South Bank University. Read More
— Science

Tears tell men women aren't interested tonight

By - January 10, 2011 1 Picture
It is well-documented that our bodies give off coded chemical signals via sweat, excretions and pheromones that convey messages to other members of our species. Yet the significance of odorless human tears has continued to draw a blank since Charles Darwin first suggested that emotional displays were originally motivated by functional purposes. One hundred and fifty years later, new research from scientists at the Weizmann Institute’s Neurobiology Department suggests that in fact, tears may be a chemo-signal, as a chemical in women's tears seems to discourage sexual arousal in men. Read More
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