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Psychology

Good Thinking

System that recognizes emotions in people's voices could lead to less phone rage

Nobody likes having to deal with automated telephone services, that say wonderful things like, “You said ‘Beelzebub,’ is that correct?”. Such services may get slightly less annoying, however, thanks to research being carried out at Spain’s Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and Universidad de Granada. A team of scientists from those institutions have created a computer system that is able to recognize the emotional state of a person speaking to it, so that it can alter its behavior to make things less stressful.Read More

Games

Video games are bad for you? That's what they said about Rock 'n' Roll

Despite the bad press that gaming often gets, there is increasing evidence that it can have positive effects. We've already seen studies suggesting that video games improve decision making and put players in a more relaxed frame of mind, now there's more good news for parents whose offspring are video game junkies. Research out of Michigan State University suggests that 12 year olds who play video games tend to be more creative ... and the more they play the more creative they are. Read More

Health & Wellbeing

You can take your light therapy, and stick it in your ear

Many readers in the Northern Hemisphere are likely already starting to experience seasonal affective disorder, appropriately enough known as SAD. For those people fortunate enough not to be familiar with it, SAD is a mood disorder that is brought on by the shorter day-length experienced in winter – less sunlight results in gloomier people. One of the most common treatments involves regular exposure to bright artificial lights, that appear to psychologically serve the same purpose as sunlight. Now, one might assume that such light therapy would require that people see the light. According to the Finnish designers of the Valkee device, however, light also does the trick if you shine it up your ears.Read More

Automotive

Braincar records and replays its travels

Have you ever questioned what it would be like if a car “could experience with a kind of consciousness its own passage through spacetime”? Well, Rotterdam artist Olaf Mooij has. It drove him to create “braincar,” which is ... well, it’s a car with a brain on the back. By day, the car captures stills and videos of its travels down the roads. By night, it remixes those images, then projects them on the inside of its translucent brain.Read More

Good Thinking

Software picks out fake online reviews

One of the great things about the internet is the fact that everyday people can share what they know with the entire world, so if they’ve had a particularly good or bad experience with a business or product, they can notify everyone via customer review websites. The flip-side of that, however, is that business owners can plant fake reviews on those same sites, that either praise their own business or slam their competition. Well, confused consumers can now take heart – researchers from Cornell University have developed software that is able to identify phony reviews with close to 90 percent accuracy.Read More

Science

Electrical implants could be used to treat depression

The World Health Organization has projected that by 2020, major depression will be the second-most significant cause for disability in the world, after heart disease. Along with psychotherapy, the disorder is usually treated using antidepressant drugs. There is often a frustrating trial-and-error period involved in finding the right drug for the right person, however, while side effects can include obesity, sexual dysfunction, and fatigue ... to name a few. Los Angeles-based company NeuroSigma is now looking into an alternative drug-free therapy, that could ultimately incorporate electrodes implanted under the patient’s skin.Read More

Health & Wellbeing

Johns Hopkins study finds Psilocybin dosage 'sweet spot' for positive and lasting effects

The use of mushrooms by man for practical, culinary or recreational purposes is said to date back to at least Paleolithic times, with perhaps the best-known variety in recent times being Amanita muscaria or Fly Agaric. Nibbling on one side of this fungus made Alice grow in size and the other made her shrink, leading to some rather bizarre adventures and inspiring one of my favorite songs - White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane. The favored psychoactive mushrooms of the drop-out 1960s, though, were members of the Psilocybe genus. Researchers now believe that they have found the optimum dose of the pure chemical found in those so-called magic mushrooms, a level which offers maximum therapeutic value with little risk of having a bad trip.Read More

Games

New research tool predicts what online gamers will do next

Is there such a thing as free will, or are our actions predetermined by the way our brains work? If recent research conducted at North Carolina State University is anything to go by, it might seem that the latter is more likely to be true – at least when it comes to gaming. After analyzing the behavior of 14,000 players of the online role-playing game World of Warcraft, an NCSU team was able to predict the future actions of those players with up to 80 percent accuracy.Read More

Games

Study suggests that relaxing video games make players happier

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

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