QR Code Book with Twitter Feed
by Wireless Watch Japan:
"You just gotta love this simple yet effective innovation. An online bookstore in Brazil launched a campaign using a new exclusive book with only QR Codes inside.. so far so cool. However, the ‘never ending story’ routinely pulls keywords from Twitter feeds to keep updating the content! The first edition is already sold-out and they are looking at this platform now for future concepts as well. No doubt the good folks over at"
Friday, June 26, 2009
Wednesday, May 20th, 2009
What we really mean by “the placebo effect” is not some mysterious effect from giving an inert treatment, but the complex web of psychosocial effects surrounding medical treatment. Those effects occur with effective treatments too, not just with inert treatments.
. . .
We not only know placebos “work,” we know there is a hierarchy of effectiveness:
"How Could It Work?
- Placebo surgery works better than placebo injections
- Placebo injections work better than placebo pills
- Sham acupuncture treatment works better than a placebo pill
- Capsules work better than tablets
- Big pills work better than small
- The more doses a day, the better
- The more expensive, the better
- The color of the pill makes a difference
- Telling the patient, “This will relieve your pain” works better than saying “This might help.”
If the placebo effect is real, what might the mechanism be? We can’t just write it off as delusions of hyper-suggestible patients. There’s evidence that several things might be going on.
The main hypotheses are: expectancy, motivation, conditioning, and endogenous opiates.
- Expectancy is an established psychological phenomenon. It even affects vision: we are more likely to see what we expect to see. Wine tastes better if the price is higher. Kids like fast food better if it comes in a McDonald’s wrapper. If we expect to feel pain we are more likely to feel pain. If we are told to expect a strong painkiller, we’re more likely to get pain relief.
- Motivation, the need or desire to improve health or get relief, has been shown to contribute independently to the placebo response. Patients who are strongly motivated to get well are more compliant and follow health advice more conscientiously. And patients who are more compliant about taking their placebo pills regularly get a stronger placebo response.
- Conditioning is what Pavlov did to his dogs. People learn to associate pills and medical treatments with relief of symptoms. The body even learns physiologic responses: dogs salivate when injected with morphine; after they become conditioned, injecting a placebo makes them salivate, although not as much.
- Endogenous opiates are pain-relieving chemicals produced in the brain that mimic the effects of opium-like drugs (morphine, etc.). There is some evidence that when patients respond to placebos, their brains produce more of these chemicals. Imaging studies have shown activation of opioid receptors in the brain when people are told that a placebo is a painkiller. And there is evidence that giving a drug that blocks the effect of narcotics can also block the placebo effect.
Gene Predicts How Brain Responds To Fatigue, Human Study Shows:
"In the current study, the researchers, led by Pierre Maquet, MD, at the University of Lege in Belgium and Derk-Jan Dijk, PhD, at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom, avoided this problem by selecting study participants based on their genes. Previous research showed that the PERIOD3 (PER3) gene predicts how people will respond to sleep deprivation. People carry either long or short variants of the gene. Those with the short PER3 variant are resilient to sleep loss — they perform well on cognitive tasks after sleep deprivation. However, those with the long PER3 variant are vulnerable — they show deficits in cognitive performance after sleep deprivation. Now the new study explains why.
The authors imaged study participants while they did a working memory task that requires attention and cognitive control — also called executive function. The researchers imaged each participant four times: the night before and the morning after a good night's sleep, and the night before and morning after a sleepless night.
They found that the resilient, short gene variant group compensated for sleep loss by 'recruiting' extra brain structures. In addition to brain structures normally activated by the cognitive task, these participants showed increased activity in other frontal, temporal, and subcortical brain structures after a sleepless night."
Changes In Brain Architecture May Be Driven By Different Cognitive Challenges
: "ScienceDaily (June 25, 2009) — Scientists trying to understand how the brains of animals evolve have found that evolutionary changes in brain structure reflect the types of social interactions and environmental stimuli different species face.
. . .
“We can learn things about ourselves from a whole variety of animals. When neurobiologists use animal models they often look to rodents and primates,” said Molina. “I would argue social insects like wasps are like us in some ways and should be an important model as well. In this study we found that it’s not being social, but how you are social that explains brain architecture. The brain can be a mirror reflecting what an animal is using it for.”
. . .
The study is the first to compare multiple species of related animals, in this case social wasps, to look at how roles of individuals in a society might affect brain architecture. The research looks at brain structure differences between species, asking how the size of different brain regions relates to each species’ social complexity and nest architecture. The results are being published June 24 in the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
. . .
One idea is that social interactions themselves put on demands for advanced cognitive abilities. We are interested in finding out exactly which social and environmental factors favor an increase in a given brain region,” said Molina.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Schizophrenic's 'Automatic Pilot' Still Works, But Processing New Information Causes Problems:
"ScienceDaily (June 24, 2009) — Answering a phone call while cooking dinner ... walking to work while texting ... driving while listening to the radio -- all without having to think about it. After plenty of practice, people can do a lot of things on automatic pilot and simultaneously. However, for people with schizophrenia that is a different story. Dutch researcher Tamar van Raalten investigated whether a disruption to the automation process, learning by repetition to do something on automatic pilot, explains why people with schizophrenia can process less information. She established that it is not the automation process but the processing of new information that causes problems.
. . .
Normally your working memory is then fully active. Yet the more the tests were repeated, the lower the brain activity in the areas involved in working memory function. This activity was also not compensated for by other parts of the brain involved in (long-term) memory. By automating the letter series, the study subjects therefore released working memory capacity so that it could once again process new information.
. . .
Patients with schizophrenia can, however, process less information than healthy people. Their brains function less efficiently. It was expected that a faltering working memory in schizophrenia patients ensured that automation did not proceed well, as a result of which they could not release working memory capacity. However, tests on schizophrenia patients revealed that after training the brain activity decreased in the same manner as was the case for healthy study subjects. Although the working memory does not function well in schizophrenic patients, the automation of tasks proceeded without problems. It might therefore be expected that schizophrenia patients could also more easily perform a second task besides the first, automated task. Yet the released capacity of the working memory could not be used for a new task.
Following this 'surprise' result Van Raalten investigated where the problem could possibly be located. During new tests she discovered that the working memory in schizophrenia patients mainly struggled with the processing of information that continually changed. Consequently, schizophrenic patients may have more of a tendency to adopt automatic strategies in circumstances that demand flexible behaviour. This inability to satisfactorily process new information can lead to stereotypical behaviours, which are an important characteristic of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and autism.
How Adolescent Girls Manage Stress:
"'We must gain a deeper understanding of, and acquire more knowledge about, the underlying social processes that trigger the daily stress experienced by teenage girls,' says public health researcher Katarina Haraldsson, the author of the dissertation."
. . .
"Many people believe that the stress experienced by upper secondary school girls relates only to school. However, the picture is far broader. Girls feel responsibility for various types of relationships, such as with friends and siblings, or have taken upon themselves leisure time commitments in various associations and organisations", says Katarina Haraldsson.
The dissertation shows that stress arises at the interface between responsibility and how one is encountered. A situation where a girl is not encountered with respect, for example, can lead to what was initially voluntarily accepted responsibility instead becoming perceived as something forced. The way people in a girl's surroundings encounter her is important not only in the context of each matter, but also for a girl's entire life situation.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Morning People And Night Owls Show Different Brain Function:
"Scientists at the University of Alberta have found that there are significant differences in the way our brains function depending on whether we're early risers or night owls.
Neuroscientists in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation looked at two groups of people: those who wake up early and feel most productive in the morning, and those who were identified as evening people, those who typically felt livelier at night. Study participants were initially grouped after completing a standardized questionnaire about their habits.
Using magnetic resonance imaging-guided brain stimulation, scientists tested muscle torque and the excitability of pathways through the spinal cord and brain. They found that morning people's brains were most excitable at 9 a.m. This slowly decreased through the day. It was the polar opposite for evening people, whose brains were most excitable at 9 p.m.
Other major findings:
- Evening people became physically stronger throughout the day, but the maximum amount of force morning people could produce remained the same.
- The excitability of reflex pathways that travel through the spinal cord increased over the day for both groups.
- These findings show that nervous-system functions are different and have implications for maximizing human performance.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Barcode Scanning Cell phones:
"While it may not surprise you that a cell phone can read a barcode label, what will surprise you is what you can do with that barcode label. You could place a barcode in a magazine and have customers simply read the bar code to preview your product. From movie previews, music previews or text files, your cell phone can now be your link to the consumer market at any time.
How does a barcode do such a thing? And on a cell phone? This new innovation is only available currently for Smartphones, or Mobile PC phones that run software. Also, in order to read these barcodes your Smartphone must have a camera attached to scan the bar code.
Currently in Japan, McDonalds around the country have started placing barcodes on the Hamburger foil, allowing customers to scan the foil their food came in, and see nutritional information about what they ate. In Japan, these codes did not become mainstream until the largest cell phone companies started loading the code readers on all new phones a few years ago. Now, millions of people have the capability built into their phones, and businesses, in turn, are using them all over, on billboards, street signs, published materials and even food packaging.
There are endless possibilities associated with this new barcode industry, anywhere from Insurance Quotes, Boarding Planes, Reservations, Groceries and more, all possible through this breakthrough in barcode scanning technology. Pharmacies could scan your medication, and Myspacers could scan their profile onto their phone, as well as their friends.
Party Animals: Early Human Culture Thrived in Crowds | LiveScience:
"The research, which is published in the June 5 issue of the journal Science, suggests that tens of thousands of years ago, as human population density increased so did the transmission of ideas and skills. The result: the emergence of more and more clever innovations.
'Our paper proposes a new model for why modern human behavior started at different times in different regions of the world, why it disappeared in some places before coming back, and why in all cases it occurred more than 100,000 years after modern humans first appeared,' said study researcher Adam Powell of the Arts and Humanities Research Council Centre for the Evolution of Cultural Diversity at University College London.
The idea that demography is linked to modern human behavior has been around for decades, but this is the first time scientists have run computer models and actually tested out different hypotheses, said Richard Potts, an anthropologist and director of the Human Origins Program at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C."
The evolution of human intelligence:
"There is no universally accepted definition of intelligence, one definition is 'the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend ideas and language, and learn.' The evolution of hominid intelligence can be traced over its course for the past 10 million years, and attributed to specific environmental challenges.
It is a misunderstanding of evolutionary theory, however, to see this as a necessary process, and an even greater misunderstanding to see it as one directed to a particular outcome.
. . .
Intelligence as an adaptation to the challenge of natural selection is no better or worse than any other adaptation, such as the speed of the cheetah or the venomous bite of the cobra.
It is, however, the only adaptation which has allowed a species to establish complete domination over the rest of the natural world.
Whether our species has yet acquired sufficient intelligence to manage this responsibility is a matter for debate..For more information about the topic The evolution of human intelligence, read the full article at Wikipedia.org,
. . . by establishing and enforcing "best practices" in crime labs (another NAS report recommendation.) Best practices are formally documented standard operating procedures, processes and rules for how to do your work . . .
The excerpts follow:
Human Analysis of Fingerprints By No Means Infallible |
from Miller-McCune Online Magazine:
"Not only some, but most, of the fingerprint examiners changed their minds," said Dror, who was far less surprised by the flip-flopping. As an expert in human thought processes and the hidden power of cognitive bias — an array of distortions in the way humans perceive reality — he had a decided advantage.
Fingerprints have been accepted as unassailable evidence in courts for more than 100 years, but vaunted claims of their uniqueness and infallibility still lack scientific validation. By contrast, the existence of cognitive bias and the subjective nature of human judgment have been thoroughly established by hundreds of scientific studies going back decades.
. . .
Still, television's CSI this is not. Despite all that technology, it then falls to fallible human beings to step in and make visual comparisons and the ultimate judgment calls on matches.
Although forensics experts routinely claim otherwise, "You don't have to be an expert in cognitive neuroscience to know that this kind of interpretation, evaluation and judgment of visual pattern is definitely not objective," Dror said.
The human factor opens the door to all kinds of contextual influences and biases because, he explained, "many times, when we process visual information subjectively, it depends on the context and who we are, what we expect and a whole variety of basic, well-established psychological and cognitive phenomena. And somebody saying that human judgment and perception is totally objective is like saying the Earth is flat. You can't believe it when you hear that.
. . .
Bias is a complex foe. An array of unseen influences may impact evidence results by affecting what examiners believe they see and diminishing their objectivity. And there are numerous cognitive and psychological biases to recognize and counter. As long as forensic examiners don't make determinations about pattern matches "blind," for example, they will be more vulnerable to what's known as "confirmation bias." Confirmation bias is where evidence is cherry-picked to emphasize what confirms preconceived ideas and what someone hopes or expects to see, and downplay what doesn't.
. . . "Conformity bias" — when examiners' judgments and perceptions are influenced by others' opinions or by peer pressure — is also common. "Authority bias," another pothole, is where decisions may be colored by a superior offering an opinion and maybe exerting subtle pressure to concur. Experts also may get locked in to a line of thought, and that can bias an outcome — so can momentum or feeling pressure to solve a case or having an emotional reaction to gruesome crime scene images.
. . .
A key National Academy of Science report recommendation — to move crime labs out from under law enforcement's wing and create a new national institute of forensic sciences — would surely help impartiality. If lack of funding delays that, "so be it," Dror said. "But you can't have it both ways. If there's no reform, don't say, 'I am 100 percent objective, I make no mistakes, there is no problem.'"
. . . In the interim, some steps can be taken. When further examiners are called on to verify the work of a first, they should always examine the evidence independently without knowing the earlier results.
Efficiency, scientific validity and objectivity could also be dramatically improved for a relatively small financial outlay by establishing and enforcing "best practices" in crime labs (another NAS report recommendation.) Best practices are formally documented standard operating procedures, processes and rules for how to do your work that are specifically designed to make it effective and efficient, and avoid error. Having best practices that all fingerprint examiners everywhere must adhere to would be a big step forward, Dror believes, but only if they are science-based and validated by experts in cognitive neuroscience, psychology and thought processes.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Mobile Marketing Magazine:
Apple Sells a Million iPhones in Three Days:
"Apple has sold over 1 million iPhone 3GS models through Sunday, 21 June, the third day after its launch. In addition, 6 million customers have downloaded the new iPhone 3.0 software in the first five days since its release.
The new iPhone 3GS comes in 16GB and 32GB versions and offers longer battery life, a 3 megapixel autofocus camera, video recording and hands free voice control. iPhone 3GS includes the new iPhone OS 3.0, which offers over 100 new features such as Cut, Copy and Paste, MMS, Spotlight Search, and a landscape keyboard.
“Customers are voting and the iPhone is winning,” says Apple CEO, Steve Jobs. “With over 50,000 applications available from Apple’s revolutionary App Store, iPhone momentum is stronger than ever.”"
Sunday, June 21, 2009
"The camera on the iPhone with the help of the Red Laser application can perform a multitude of tasks never before thought possible. Some of these new possibilities are: The ability to scan a movie at the movie store, and have your TiVo instantly starting recording it at home. You could scan a book at a store, and read blogs & reviews on the book before you buy it. While at the grocery store, you could scan items of food and compare similar products and prices as well."
The very information meant to inform us is actually making us STUPID!
It's affecting millions of business people.
Is IOS affecting you?
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