Iran and U.S. Bluffing and Posturing Not Really New

The U.S. and Iran are often in the news with bluffing and posturing on both sides.

There is a long history of Imperial animosity between the West and Iran, since the end of WWI obviously and before that, excluding the Medieval period where Iran was a member of various Islamic empires, the bluffing and posturing was frequent between the rulers of the Roman Empire and the Sassanid Empire, large-integrated empires, both of which were greatly weakened by Muhammad and his followers and eventually eliminated.

In the fourth century, the Emperor Shapur II referred to the Roman Emperor as his servant and 'overseer of the Western provinces who serves at our pleasure.'

In response, the Roman Emperor's ministers claimed that Shapur was beholdened to the "Lord of the Universe" and that the ruler of the world was too busy to respond to any entreaties from princelings and other local rulers of no import.

Ocasionally warfare flared in Mesopotamia, a buffer zone between the two empires.
In 260, the aged emperor Valerian was captured and held in captivity in Persia until he died. After which, his skin was stuffed and kept in the palace as a momento.
This giant rock carving, like Stone Mountain, Georgia or Mt. Rushmore, sits above the most well-traveled highway in Iran (the Silk Road) so that everybody would see the Roman Emperor's submission......

Here it is.

Traffic Pile-up

Our host is supposed to able to load balance.

Hope so. Looks like we're gonna need it.


MemoryTV News Blast on Memorypix

Memorytv (Memory TV) take favorite images and enjoy a memory game, scientifically-validated. Here's the current list of exercises.

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Pictures in History

Pictures in American History? Read the perspective of Patrick Cox, a professor of history at the University of Texas-Austin.

They play a key role in our perception.


Memorypix Sneak Preview

We are pleased to offer a new kind of memory test, which is: m e m o r y p i x.
This is in the alpha state. but if you want to comment on it, please do.

This has a Hollywood-flavor to it, a hurricane, and even the Governor of California. The object of the test is to press the spacebar when you see an image you have already seen   and thereby test your short-term total recall ability.

You also have to be fast. Press the spacebar as quickly as you can after you realize you have already seen an image. At the end, you'll get a score. You'll want to maximize accuracy, number correct, and keep reaction time (in milliseconds low)

Mr. Schwarzenegger
is the 1st governor in the U.S. to appear in a memory test, which naturally, was grown in California just like a Valencia orange.

Sorry, no surf boards in this test, or surf-riffs from the Ventures (wipeout) or Beach Boys. But, they are coming, along with Maverick. There's no reason a test can't be rock-solid scientifically plus have some MP3's interlaced in it.

Tunes + Memory = Awesome Combo

Work your Memory and Have Fun!

This will shortly be registration-only, so take advantage of this sneak preview.
It's also patent-pending. Send us feedback at memorypix@cognitivelabs.com.

If you want something really boring, don't try the jackalope test. Jackalopes are frequently seen grazing in herds in the "4 corners" area of the U.S. Residents of the area, determined conservationists, have successfully kept their existence secret.


Cognitive Labs Memory Test on Space.com and LiveScience.com

Try our test from Space.com or LiveScience.com's community boards. I emailed the company about offering our test. Think it's a good fit?

Remember Those Who Served

On Memorial Day (U.S.) - remember those who served, men and women. On Memory TV, look at the Civil War pictorial - it might remind you of Ken Burns' work. Like his work, it utilizes images from the National Archive. In the 60's you'll see some classic photos from that decade.

Disable your pop-up blocker, first.

Or just exercise your memory


Researchers Assert that Genius is Made, not Born

Towering competence comes from training in specific ways...assert researchers

Experts who specialize in studying the phenomenon of expertise argue phenoms are made, not born.

The researchers have asked a college student to spend hundreds of hours memorizing random numbers. They’ve interviewed a surgeon about how he wields a scalpel. They’ve parsed a golfer’s putt from his brain to his fingertips.

Anders Ericsson, a psychology professor at Florida State University, is among a group of researchers who want to know why some people become experts and others never get beyond amateur.

They’ve studied chess players and pianists, software designers and dart players. What they are finding is that superstars are made, not born. And the experts, Ericsson says, practice in a way that commits the "how" of what they do to memory.

For example, expertise at the free throw line does not come from simply lofting a basketball 1,000 times. Instead, the shooter must create a memory of exactly what to do to make the ball go in the hoop.

"I get the information from people thinking out loud," says Ericsson, 58, a citizen of Sweden and a resident of the United States for 30 years. In June, Ericsson and co-editors Neil Charness, Paul Feltovich and Robert Hoffman will publish a 900-page academic book on the subject, The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance.

Here Ericsson discusses the research, and its populist notion that almost anyone can be a star if they are willing to work hard and smart:

You’ve been called the ringleader of the "expert performance movement." What is that?

I started to do this work trying to understand how people could improve their memory. As I saw the tremendous effects of training on memory performance, I got interested in looking at people who were experts at other things. I was asking if those people who were successful in virtually any domain had done something to be that successful.

What happened with your work on memory?

Good memory was believed by many to be something you were born with. The way we started was allowing a particular college student room to improve. He was given random digits, read one per second. An average person can easily get seven, kind of like a phone number. Eventually that first subject was able to reproduce 82 digits.

He could memorize 82 numbers while someone read them aloud, one number per second?

Yes. It took him 200 hours to learn. We didn’t teach the subject anything. He figured it out for himself. You have to have all sorts of groupings . . . groups of four, maybe threes. He was a distance runner. He encoded them like they were running times.

So how does that apply to other expert performers: athletes, musicians, chess players?

For experts, they encode things meaningfully. Chess players, if you show them a chess board, they can encode it in long-term memory. You build up these structures that allow you places to put things (for retrieval).

Structures? Do you mean structures in the brain?

Think of it as someone sitting at a desk and getting something and putting in a drawer. When you need it, you go to the place it should be. With long-term memory, you have addresses for information, like a desk drawer.

So memory enhances expertise. You also talk about 'deliberate practice.' Can you explain that to me?

Deliberate practice is to repeat what you’re doing so you can correct it. Experience does not improve performance. Some amateur golfers can play at the same level for 30 years, and they don’t automatically get better. Once people reach some acceptable level, they seem to get stuck there. In order to keep improving, you need to structure your training around specific goals. If you are a golfer, you don’t just stand there and hit balls as hard as you can.

Do you mean that practice, or experience, isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be?

Not all experts are performing at consistently high levels. Stockbrokers who invest in the market are not necessarily more successful than average individuals. Psychotherapists who have extensive training and experience are not more successful than those with much less training. We’re really not interested in socially defined expertise. We’re interested in expert performance where people can consistently do things at a superior level. Then we can start asking, what are they thinking when they’re successful, and how is their developmental history different?

So what do you do, say, if you’re a golfer, to get better?

You decide you want to change something. You pick out a club and decide to hit a ball to a specific spot. You are not hitting the ball to the hole but hitting the ball to an aim point. You are setting a goal. You evaluate whether you achieved that goal. If not, you make corrections. You have to develop these cognitive structures.

Isn’t that just the same thing as practice makes perfect?

That idea of finding the mistakes and correcting those is the key. You figure out ways to adjust aspects to improve performance. As you get better, you primarily need to know what you should have done. One of the examples I give is, if someone misses a volley when you’re playing tennis, it’s not like you stop the game to talk about the 10 things you did that made you miss the shot. It might take a while in the match before you get another shot like it. If you’re working with a tennis coach, who can throw you balls in the same way, you get as much opportunity to improve on that shot as you would in three months of play.

So feedback, or coaching, is key. In what way?

Look at playing chess. If you can beat everyone very easily, how can you become a better chess player? People who become very successful chess players, they re-create games played by experts to see why these other players were picking these moves. If you find you pick the same move as they did, then you’re playing as well as them. If not, then it’s a clue that you’re not doing something right....


Gary Small of the Semel Institute Argues for Lifestyle Changes to Fight Alzheimer's

Gary Small, Professor at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience at UCLA, argues that Lifestyle Changes May Improve Cognitive Function And Brain Efficiency

Couple this with the recent Alzheimer's and Dementia article by Dr. Ashford and Stanford colleagues, Wes formerly of UCLA, on cognitive screening and the suggestion that we are at the cusp of a new age of being able to identify impairments earlier AND

the work of people like Mike Weiner at UCSF/UC Berkeley who is heading up an ambitious and rigorous effort to be able identify the earliest cases of Alzheimer's with MRI and we have the beginnings of a California gold rush in cognitive science, and, humbly, this website which is signing up people from all over the world left and right.

It's a wonderful time to be working in the field. If you want to hear more about Dr. Weiner's work and volunteer to be in a study, please do so here, or just from our home page. If you live near Stanford, you might want to go there, if you are in SF, consider UCSF. I doubt that Mr. Semel even knows that Yahoo! has anything to do with this, but they do.

A UCLA research study published in the June issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found that people may be able to improve their cognitive function and brain efficiency by making simple lifestyle changes such as incorporating memory exercises, healthy eating, physical fitness and stress reduction into their daily lives.

"We've known for several years that diet and exercise can help people maintain their physical health and live longer, but maintaining mental health is just as important," said lead investigator, Dr. Gary Small, professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. "The UCLA study is the first to show the impact of memory exercises and stress reduction used together with a healthy diet and physical exercise to improve brain and cognitive function."

Media Mentions

We just added some image links of places where this blog has been quoted. Another one is LeMonde, Institute for the Future in Palo Alto is another... but we have not added those yet. Mostly globally oriented media properties than here locally...interesting. It's on the right side bar.

Play Cognitive Labs Simon from Google Italia

Play Cognitive Labs Simon from Google Italy (Italia)

Take a break from bicycling through the hill country of Italy. Work the brain.


Milk Chocolate Boosts Brain Power and Reaction Time

Chocolate has been shown in a new study to boost brain power while completing a battery of computerized neuropsychological tests. Chocolate Milk may even be more beneficial. While bearing down on attention-requiring work, such as spreadsheets, imputed interest calculations, your own stock indexing algorithm, programming, or perhaps, programming a new and improved reaction time exercise using javascript or the wondrous actionscript - it might be a good idea to eat m&m's or hershey bars and wash it down with a draught of chocolate milk. Afterwards, you'll need to lift weights and take a brisk walk to avoid the result of excess nutrients (fat).

"Chocolate contains many substances that act as stimulants, such as theobromine, phenethylamine, and caffeine," Dr. Bryan Raudenbush from Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia noted in comments to Reuters Health.

"These substances by themselves have previously been found to increase alertness and attention and what we have found is that by consuming chocolate you can get the stimulating effects, which then lead to increased mental performance."

To study the effects of various chocolate types on brain power, Raudenbush and colleagues had a group of volunteers consume, on four separate occasions, 85 grams of milk chocolate; 85 grams of dark chocolate; 85 grams of carob; and nothing (the control condition).

After a 15-minute digestive period, participants completed a variety of computer-based neuropsychological tests designed to assess cognitive performance including memory, attention span, reaction time, and problem solving.

"Composite scores for verbal and visual memory were significantly higher for milk chocolate than the other conditions," Raudenbush told Reuters Health. And consumption of milk and dark chocolate was associated with improved impulse control and reaction time....



Flow is a mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing, characterized by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. Proposed by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields....

Flow is one of the characteristics of games that can be leveraged to achieve beneficial effects, by immersing the player into the game world.

I thought I would share a couple of interesting examples I have seen:

Electroplankton - Nintendo DS (Japan only)

another Flash game that was on digg is this and represents a Master's thesis in game design...

This game won Netscape cool site

Here it is Exercise your brain.

There was once a dream

called the Internet. It was supposed to do wonderful things for people. And it did. Then the whole thing got out of control. People got away from what was really important.

I just got an email from a top researcher in the field of memory research wanting to know how we get so many people interested enough to sign up for a research study.

It's a good question...

We're not offering anything, we're not paying anything. All we offer is an outlet for people to improve themselves, if they want.

...the point is, we seem to be more effective than expensive radio ads, the newspaper or other traditional media outlets and not just by a percentage basis, it's a complete transformation, a complete change by several standard deviations, if you look at statistically. i guess, in a casual way, without a lot of hype and fanfare, the internet is changing the world after all, for the better : - )


Reached 1,120,000 - Thanks. Now help us link 1 billions brains

Crossed the 1,120,000 mark at about 8:07 AM. Thanks
Help link 1 billion brains.


Let's break 1,120,000 today

Let's hit the 120,000 number today! you can do it by referring a friend - here's a good place to start! our last number update was at 10:57 AM PST 5/23/06


How Much for a Tribble?: Star Trek Auction

Cap'n Kirk: the man who ushered in the Information Age
Q: How Fast was Spock's Brain?
A: Only cognitive labs knows Spock's (or your) brainspeed

Venerable auctioneer Christie's is set to auction off items from the original Star Trek...(New York) Trekkies will be setting their phasers to "bid" this fall when Christie's holds the first official studio auction of memorabilia from all five Star Trek TV series and 10 movie spinoffs.

CBS Paramount Television Studios is cleaning out its vaults for the sale, comprising more than 1,000 lots totaling some 4,000 items, to be held from Oct. 5 to 7 in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the original Star Trek series, Christie's announced on Thursday.

Fans and collectors will have a chance to acquire Star Trek artifacts ranging from models of the Starship USS Enterprise to Capt James Kirk's uniform or Capt Jean-Luc Picard's jumpsuit in an auction where Christie's expects to raise more than $3 million.

Other items to hit the block include props, weapons, prosthetics and set dressings unearthed from five Paramount warehouses. Among the highlights are a miniature of the Starship Enterprise used in visual effects for the film "Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country," expected to sell for $15,000 to $25,000, and a replica of Kirk's chair from the original TV series that was recreated for the 1996 "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" episode "Trials and Tribble-ations," which is estimated at $10,000 to $15,000.


Easy to Link to Cognitive Labs

It's easy to link to Cognitive Labs. Just post a link. Or, read this, which tells you how you can get paid just for linking to our site.

Everybody's a Symbologist: DaVinci Code Nets $241 Million

Give Peace a Chance with Games

Sims creator Wil Wright backs peaceful games

Games can help your brain, everybody is saying. The SF Chronicle picks up the thread on "peaceful" games and cognitive games, mentioning the upcoming serious 'games' conference.

for a fun brain game try this it also comes in a search-engine flavor.

register for more games here, for free

Get into real brain research in the Bay Area - Stanford or UCSF? - go here.
more than 20 people have signed up just for research so far today
congrats to dr. ashford on his new journal publication on cognitive screening


Alzheimer's and Dementia Publication

Congratulations to both Dr. Wes Ashford (Stanford/VA Alzheimer's Center) and Dr. Ruth O'Hara (Stanford University) and all the other authors of the paper published in the scholarly journal Alzheimer's and Dementia.
Here is a list of authors:

J. Wesson Ashford (a), Soo Borson(b), Ruth O’Hara(c), Paul Dash(d), Lori Frank(e), Philippe Robert(f), William R. Shankle(g), Mary C. Tierney(h), Henry Brodaty(i), Frederick A. Schmitt(j), Helena C. Kraemer(k) and Herman Buschke(l)

a Stanford / VA Alzheimer Center, Department of Psychiatry, Palo Alto VA Health Care System, Palo Alto, CA, USA
b Department of Psychiatry, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
c Department of Psychiatry, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, USA
d Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA
e Center for Health Outcomes Research, United BioSource Corporation, Bethesda, MD, USA
f Department of Psychiatry, University of Nice, Nice, France
g Cognitive Sciences, U.C. Irvine, Irvine, CA, USA
h Geriatric Research Unit, Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
i Department of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
j Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA
k Department of Psychiatry, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, USA
l Department of Neurology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, NY, USA

The paper looks at general screening for Alzheimer's Disease and other impairments and provides an assessment of the fast-growing at risk population. We will provide some additional details later on.


A billion now online

A billion people now are online, 250 million households with broadband, Asia Pacific leads in broadband penetration.

Let's get the billion brains linked up.

WASHINGTON (AFP) - More than one billion people in the world have access to the Internet, with a quarter of them with broadband, or high-speed connections, according to a survey.

The report by the firm eMarketer said the milestone of one billion was reached in late 2005, and that nearly 250 million households had broadband connections.

The firm estimates that of these people, 845 million use the Internet regularly.

The United States is still number one in terms of numbers of Internet users with 175 million, and broadband households, 43.7 million.

In terms of regions, however, Asia-Pacific has the largest number (315 million) and is the largest broadband center containing nearly 40 percent of the world's broadband households.

Latin America was the fastest growing broadband region worldwide, achieving 70 percent subscriber growth, the survey found. But it had just 70 million people online.

Europe had 233 million people online and 55.2 million broadband households. China had 111 million users and 34.1 million households with fast connections.

The report was based on a number of industry surveys and data from the International Telecommunication Union and Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.


Tom Hanks: Average Guy

Alison Gilmoor of Canadian Broadcasting Corp writes about Tom Hanks, the average guy hero of numerous films and star of the upcoming DaVinci Code. The piece also links to Cognitive Labs' blog in our discussion of the problem of facial rendering in robotic animation.

Methuselah Syndrome

Website lets you upload photos and watch yourself age.


Last DNA Sequenced

(this news is 32 minutes old) - Scientists have reached a landmark point in one of the world's most important scientific projects by sequencing the last chromosome in the Human Genome, the so-called "book of life."

Chromosome 1 contains nearly twice as many genes as the average chromosome and makes up eight percent of the human genetic code.

It is packed with 3,141 genes and linked to 350 illnesses including cancer, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

"This achievement effectively closes the book on an important volume of the Human Genome Project," said Dr Simon Gregory who headed the sequencing project at the Sanger Institute in England.

The project was started in 1990 to identify the genes and DNA sequences that provide a blueprint for human beings.

Chromosome 1 is the biggest and contains, per chromosome, the greatest number of genes.

"Therefore it is the region of the genome to which the greatest number of diseases have been localized," added Gregory, from Duke University in the United States.

The sequence of chromosome 1, which is published online by the journal Nature, took a team of 150 British and American scientists 10 years to complete.

Researchers around the world will be able to mine the data to improve diagnostics and treatments for cancers, autism, mental disorders and other illnesses.

Chromosomes, which are found in the nucleus of a cell, are thread-like structures that contain genes which determine the characteristics of an individual.

The human genome has an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 genes. The sequencing of chromosome 1 has led to the identification of more than 1,000 new genes.

"We are moving into the next phase which will be working out what the genes do and how they interact," said Gregory.

The genetic map of chromosome 1 has already been used to identify a gene for a common form of cleft lip and palate. It will also improve understanding of what processes lead to genetic diversity in populations, according to Gregory.

Each chromosome is made up of a molecule of DNA in the shape of a double helix which is composed of four chemical bases represented by the letters A (adenine), T (thymine), G (guanine) and C (cytosine). The arrangement, or sequence, of the letters determines the cell's genetic code.

The scientists also identified 4,500 new SNPs -- single nucleotide polymorphisms -- which are the variations in human DNA that make people unique.

SNPs contain clues about why some people are susceptible to diseases like cancer or malaria, the best way to diagnose and treat them and how they will respond to drugs.

Read more about Your DNA and Memory Here


CMP Media Announces 1st Serious Games Summit

CMP Media
and Gamasutra have announced today the 1st serious games summit, in Arlington, VA, based on games for education, training and healthcare.

People are beginning to recognize the therapeutic,educational and psychological benefits from games...

Rebuilding the Engine

We're rebuilding the engine on gamer-iq - so if (when) you encounter some broken links, we beg your indulgence. We just wiped off some of the hot grease on a shop rag so we could write this post. If you've ever dropped and rebuilt a VW engine, you know there's lots of finicky little parts with pins and springs that have to cleaned, greased, and carefully reinstalled or tapped into place with the soft touch of a surgeon.

AOL to Unveil Anti-YouTube

AOL plans to release an antimatter to the matter of the hit post-it yourself video site 'youtube.' Why is it popular? "America's Funniest Home Videos" was once a sensation. This is just the same, except you are behind the camera and you are the editor.

The bandwidth being consumed by youtube reminds us of our hi-bandwith internet radio days. Supposedly youtube is spending $1 million per month on bandwidth. In our day, AOL was kicking in about $300,000 per month in free bandwidth for some of the biggest shoutcasters in our network (we also tried to buy the domain bigtv.com but the owner/squatter wouldn't part with it, rats)

ref: techcruch via digg.com

Editors note: Boy, whatever AOL was going to do didn't work.
keyword: miserable failure.

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Buck Institute of Novato Makes an Alzheimer's Breakthrough

In the study of Alzheimer's disease, the smallest steps forward have sometimes led to the most exciting breakthroughs, reports today's SF Chronicle.

In the case of a recent study from Novato's Buck Institute, it's a molecular step forward -- specifically, modifying a single amino acid in the brains of lab mice that could prevent the frightening memory loss and dementia associated with Alzheimer's disease.

While several scientists outside the Buck Institute were reluctant to call the study a true breakthrough, the results "are not a trivial step forward," said Stephen Snyder, an Alzheimer's disease specialist with the National Institute on Aging.

"This opens the door on a field of research. What these guys are showing, basically, is a new universe for us to look into more deeply," Snyder said. "We don't know much about the mechanisms. You could fault these people for rushing to print the study without knowing that, but in the Alzheimer's field, we accept a lot of this because these little incremental things could mean a lot."

Alzheimer's is a debilitating neurological disease that affects 4.5 million Americans, and with the Baby Boomer generation a decade or so away from the at-risk years, scientists have been under increasing pressure to develop treatments for the disease.

There are dozens, even hundreds, of studies being conducted on Alzheimer's at any given time, as scientists reconsider 15-year-old theories that haven't yet led to viable treatments, or spin off into new, untapped realms of brain chemistry research.

In the Buck Institute study, a protein was altered in the brains of lab mice. The mice that received the treatment showed all the pathological signs of suffering Alzheimer's disease -- most notably, a buildup of sticky plaque that scientists believe is related to the disease -- but had none of the memory-loss symptoms or brain shrinkage.

read more


Cognitive Labs in National Geographic Kids

Cognitive Labs will be quoted in National Geographic Kids, in an upcoming issue. The topic will be games, in general. Subscribe to the magazine so you can see it. Thanks to the cool folks at 1up.com.

Cognitive Labs Game: A Netscape Cool Site

Cognitive Labs Game: A Netscape Cool Site in Gadgets and Tech? Y and N

Yes, it's here, but ours is more clever.

The Game Inside the Game

I recently signed up for Second Life. It's basically a virtual world where people create their own characters from a list of available names that result in some oddball combinations. People like Pierre Omidyar and Jeff Bezos have invested.

The Game Inside the Game.

Inside, you have full creative license. You parachute into another dimension without rules - just those of the community. Some have even taken to writing software inside the virtual world to be used by the denizens of the virtual dimension just like they use tools in the real world. For example, I think we'll try to port our memory test/reaction test over to the virtual world. Train your brain inside the game? If you do train your brain inside the game, does that mean that your brain outside is also improved? This gets us into a matrix-like chicken or egg inflection point, or maybe, Mr. Spock's "logic is a little bird in a tree" line.

First, I don't know if it can be done since we haven't yet downloaded the client. In fact, they emailed me after 24 hours, saying "Hey, what's wrong, you haven't downloaded the client yet."

So, we'll just see. Virtual characters controlled by humans optimizing their memory and reaction time and game playing ability inside another world? We'll keep you posted. Does that mean we'll also buy Quicken to balance our checkbook in the virtual world, MS Office "Virtual" edition to do sales pitches with virtual powerpoint, or get an iPod? It could be a new market for these traditional vendors to test micropayments or use paypal. It's all not really much different from the practice of advergaming/putting ads inside games - promoted by groups like IGN (News Corp) Imagine, getting forced to upgrade by MS in a virtual world. Aargh.

Today's Top Referrer

Today's top referrer so far:

Network 54. Thanks. It's a community site. Somebody posted something over there, so people are coming over here. That's the social web.


Casual and Brain Game Surge at e3

The message from e3: casual games are surging globally. Why? They tie into social activities and are increasingly the games people turn to when they start playing games after a hiatus or perhaps, after never playing a game in a arcade, are trying it out for the first time.

read more from Agence-France Press

Die-hard video games stagnant; 'casual' play surges globally

First posted 10:46am (Mla time) May 12, 2006
Agence France-Presse

LOS ANGELES -- While hard-core video games remain multi-billion-dollar cash cows, there is an untapped mother lode in games as simple as puzzles, experts said on Thursday at the world's premier trade show.
As thousands of cultish gamers jammed exhibition halls crammed with the latest action games for Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo consoles, a panel of analysts said the surging sector of the market was "casual games".

Sales of the consoles, games and accessories craved by die-hard players have been flat for four years, while there has been a global surge in those who play casually, experts contended at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3).

"There is a huge untapped market of people who haven't been bitten by the video-game-playing bug," said Anita Frazier, an entertainment industry analyst with NPD Group in the United States.

Sales of console-based video games peaked in Japan in 2001 and have trailed downward ever since, according to Hiroshi Kamide, an analyst at KBC Securities in that country.

"The key message from Japan is that if you don't have casual content you don't have outlook for growth at all," Kamide said. "You need casual games, not splashy, but interesting and different. Then, you will do pretty well."

The second-hand and rental game gear markets that allied with poor economic conditions to undermine the console video game market in Japan were likely to spill west to the United States, warned Kamide.

At least one Japanese video game company was "cleaning up" by getting children and their parents to play "brain games" with low development costs and high profit margins, Kamide said.

Many casual gaming sites are being developed on the premise people can play for free as long as they wish, but pay nominal fees to "jazz up" a game by customizing characters or adding features or levels of play, Kamide said.

"People are very happy to try them," Kamide said of the simple, free games. "Local operators are making money hand over fist at the moment."

Increasingly common "micro payment" software allows players to buy features for small change, essentially "recreating those days when you would go to an arcade with a bag of quarters," one mobile game maker said.

Micro payment systems have given rise to online virtual worlds in which players buy land, work jobs, invest and more in a synthesized cash economy.

"The whole micro-payment thing is phenomenal," said Antonio Tambunan, head of Asia Online Game Research, Bear Sterns Asia.

"It is an amazing economy."

Casual online gaming is growing strong in Europe, with the fastest growth seen in pay-to-play games offering prizes, according to David MacQueen and analyst with Screen Digest in Britain.

Statistics show that the bulk of video game buyers, some 82 percent in the United States, are men, but increasing numbers of women are playing "socially" with family members at home, according to Frazier.

"There are a lot of gamer moms and dads playing next to their kids," Frazier said. "Gaming is really infiltrating the household at a broader level."

It would be only natural for bloggers to start incorporating games onto online community websites such as My Space and Friendster, according to Tambunan.

"Everyone keeps looking at the existing game universe," Tambunan said. "You need to look beyond. If you could put a game on top of a My Space space, that is the key to where things are going."

While "the sky is falling" in the console gaming industry, salvation could be found by appealing more to casual gamers while revving up new systems to deliver "emotional involvement that appeals to people," Frazier said.

"Every hard-core gamer started out as a casual gamer," said Michael Pachter, a senior research analyst Wedbush Morgan Securities. "You didn't start out playing Grand Theft Auto. You started with Tetris or Pong."

Should Starbuck's Offer a Memory Test?

Our readers seem to think so, since many indicated they would like to pick up a CD-loaded with games and tests at Starbuck's. Either there, at Wal-Mart, or Target. In fact, they already offer CD's and brain board games at Starbuck's. So, why not?

Now that coffee is being linked to cognitive fitness. (see coffeescience.org it certainly seems the time is right. (the .org appears to be a successor to the 'coffee generation' commercials they used to have) If you think so, send an email to us at yesforstarbucksbraintest@cognitivelabs.com. Hey, it worked before, e.g.."Let us redesign your java supply chain with our Java Technology." Interesting meeting, no sale.

Cognitive Labs for Publishers

If you are a magazine or newspaper publisher, we're happy to work with you under our new publisher program, which expands and defines our earlier program, and builds on what we know is successful for everyone.

Here it is.


Fight Alzheimer's Like Alexander

When Alexander came to Asia
, he was told: 'whosoever can untangle the Gordian knot shall be master of Asia.'

He didn't untangle the knot. Without hesitating, he drew his sword and chopped through it with one stroke.

Fallout: Brains in India are Best by Google Trends' Test

Why is that India is the country with a whopping lead in searches using the word 'brain'? according to Google.

MySpace reaches 77 million users, same number as concerned with Alzheimer's in the US

myspace, the kitschy, do-it-yourself codefest site, reaches 77 million registered users. That's the same number, roughly, as the Alzheimer's Association says are concerned about memory loss in the U.S.

links: wikipedia

But, there is much interest in the whole area of games for the brain which really runs the full gamut from age 6 to age 106, which allows everything from simple monitoring (like a scale for your brain) to workout routines such as nintendo DS, or for the far more economical rate here, with an unconstrained stream of consciousness product that evolves based on popularity.

Ringtone Causes Walkout in Iraq Parliament

Mobile media enters politics and lifestyle...The playing of a Shiite-themed ringtone on a mobile phone caused a walkout in the Iraqi Parliament amongst Sunni members. Do you recall anyone leaving a session of elected officials based on something on a PC? Think about it....appeared on Univ of Michigan Professor Juan Cole's Informed Comment.


This is Your Brain on Google Trends

Google's new service, Trends, which competes with Yahoo's search filtering stuff, is out. Take a look at the result when you type in the word 'brain' in Trends:

India, Philippines, and Australia top the list for searches on "Brain," with the U.S. 4th. Google generates an on-the-fly PNG file based on the historical search data balanced on the fulcrum of the search term.

Bonk: Uniting Upper and Lower Egypt

Here's a Narmer puzzle. If you saw the Rock in Scorpion King, you'll see the closest historical link to that character here.


It's linked from the home page.

Think Pink Please


This brain test is super popular. Guess What?

We're going to add more flavors beside the pink lemonade. Exercising your brain was
never so fun...


Korean Android Robot Unveiled....

From the do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep DepartmentEveR-1's android skin is made from a silicon jelly that feels similar to human skin. Resembling a woman in her 20's, EveR-1 is 160 centimeters tall.

The android has fifteen sensors in its robotic face to allow it to interpret the face of a person before it, and thirty-five miniature motors to create expression and properly look back at a person talking to it. The EveR-1 has a basic vocabulary of 400 works, and can have simple verbal exchanges with humans.

According to KITECH scientist Baeg Moon-hong, "The robot can serve to provide information in department stores and museums or read stories to children; it’s capable of both education and entertainment functions."

Science fiction writers have gone a bit further in their thinking about female robots and androids. In his 1954 work The Mechanical Bride, author Fritz Leiber wrote about a similar robotic creation:

Streamlined, smooth-working, absolutely noiseless, breath-takingly realistic. Each one is powered by thirty-seven midget electric motors, all completely noiseless, and is controlled by instructions, recorded on magnetic tape, which are triggered off by the sound of your voice and no one else's. There is a built-in microphone that hears everything you say, and an electric brain that selects a suitable answer. The de luxe model is built to your specifications, has fifty different facial expressions...

from Technovelgy.com

Gold, Gas Lines, and Polyester

The above is the title of a new book, instead of "guns, germs, and steel" deconstructing the late 1970's.

Gold has hit its highest price since the late 1970's, when those little 24k bullion necklaces were the rage. Gas Lines have come back, for those stations a dime or two cheaper than the rest (instead of a few pennies)and polyester - has not yet come back - but take a look at Hank Aaron's cool polyester-powered Atlanta Braves uniform. Hank celebrates hitting no. 715 and breaking the Babe's record.

try the puzzle

Barry Bonds may tie or pass the Babe and Hank's tie-breaking shot tonight, but has a little way to go to catch Hank Aaron's lifetime home run total.


Barry Bonds Memory Puzzle - no. 713

Here's the Barry Bonds 713th dinger memory puzzle.
Photo Credit: SF Chronicle

Bonds Connects for no. 713

Barry Bonds connects for no. 713

Barry Bonds hit number 713 last night and trails the Babe by only one tater. Here is a Babe memory puzzle (see if you can scramble and then put 'em all back together. Then try the Barry Bonds puzzle (coming soon) It's tough. Unfortunately, this script only works in IE)
But don't worry, we're doing some amazing things with moving pictures.

In Menlo Atherton AAA Little League Action over the weekend, the Sandhill Capital Durham Bulls (like the movie ) defeated the shavingcream.com Bats, narrowly in a walkfest for both teams, but the sun was shining, the grass was green, and the sky was blue. It doesn't get any better...

MCI Linked to Alzheimer's

Researchers (Dr. Ronald Peterson and Dr. Joe Parisi) at the Mayo Clinic have linked MCI to Alzheimer's Disease through a study of autopsy results. MCI, an acronym for Mild Cognitive Impairment, is thought to impact at least 3X the people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Previously, it has not been certain if MCI was an early form of Alzheimer's or if it was a normal part of aging or related to other forms of dementia.

The study suggests that the population of people at risk is much greater than previously thought; therefore, a significant percentage of the 77 million people concerned about memory loss (source: Alzheimer's Association) just in the U.S. alone are at risk.

source: archives of the Journal of Neurology, May 2006
"I think our study provides an anatomical basis for the clinical condition of mild cognitive impairment,” says Joseph Parisi, M.D., Mayo Clinic neuropathologist and study investigator. “This shows that there are structural changes in the brains of patients who may develop Alzheimer’s disease.”

This study, led by Mayo Clinic and funded by the National Institute on Aging, is one of the first autopsy studies of mild cognitive impairment. Findings will be published in the May issue of Archives of Neurology .

"Our examination of the brains of those who died while they had mild cognitive impairment shows us that neuropathologically they are not normal, but they do not have the changes of fully developed Alzheimer’s disease," says Ronald Petersen, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic neurologist and study investigator.

"These early findings led us to believe that these people were on the road to developing Alzheimer’s, but they weren’t there yet. They have only a few of the features of Alzheimer’s in their brains. Just like they clinically looked in between normal aging and Alzheimer’s disease, their brains also looked in between. It is a confirmation of a transitional condition between normal and Alzheimer’s disease."

The study’s intent was to determine the features of the brains of those who died while in the clinical state of mild cognitive impairment, showing behavioral symptoms of the condition. Autopsies were performed by Mayo Clinic pathologists on the brains of 15 people who died while they had clinical mild cognitive impairment, as well as on the brains of 28 patients who were cognitively normal and 23 with probable Alzheimer’s, a disease that ultimately can only be diagnosed after death.

The researchers found that most of the brains of those who had been clinically diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment did not meet the pathological criteria for Alzheimer’s disease, but rather showed changes suggesting progression toward Alzheimer’s.

All these brains possessed plaques and tangles — hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease — beyond what would be expected in normal aging, yet shy of full Alzheimer's. Plaques and tangles result from deposits of abnormal proteins in the brain, causing a slowly progressive loss of neurons.

"Mild cognitive impairment is by definition a disorder of cognitive function," says Dennis Dickson, M.D., Mayo Clinic neuropathologist and study investigator. "When we look at the brain, we can’t see cognition, but we can see degenerative changes.

"In general, in the brains of those with mild cognitive impairment the plaques and tangles that are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease were present, but in less severity and confined to a specific area, unlike Alzheimer’s, in which plaques and tangles are widespread throughout the brain."

Dr. Dickson points out that density and spread of plaques and tangles are not sufficient alone to identify those who are normal or who have mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's.

"Some people can compensate for the pathology in their brains," he explains. "They can have a high burden of plaques and tangles and yet be normal. This may be due to factors like education, activity or life experiences.

"If I sat down and grouped brains by normal, mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s, I’d be wrong in a number of cases. It doesn’t map exactly that if you’re normal you have no plaques and tangles, and if you have Alzheimer’s you have a large amount of plaques and tangles. But generally, the more plaques and tangles you have in the brain, the more cognitively impaired you will be.”

The plaques and tangles that are present in the majority of the brains of those with mild cognitive impairment will lead to a gradual breakdown of the very elaborate circuitry of the brain in which normal neurons stop functioning and memory is affected, says Dr. Parisi.

"Everything’s wired in the brain," says Dr. Dickson. "When a neuron dies, it's as if that circuit is shorted out, which presents itself as cognitive impairment and eventually dementia."

The researchers say that people can contribute to research in Alzheimer's and its preconditions by having an autopsy performed on a loved one with such a condition.


Genes Can Make You Smarter? New Research

Mental Acuity - Gene Link Asserted...

Research on schizophrenia has taken an unexpected turn for researchers at the Feinstein Institute who found that a gene that plays a role in determining whether someone has this disease also seems to play a role in mental acuity and intelligence. (This in interesting note compared to APOEe4-risk for cognitive impairment in the case of Alzheimer's and Dementia)

The work, conducted at The Feinstein Institute's Zucker Hillside Hospital on Long Island, was originally aimed at studying the association between the gene dysbindin-1, located on chromosome 6, and an increased risk for developing schizophrenia, the debilitating mental illness whose sufferers are plagued by psychotic episodes and asocial behaviors.

"Our primary and first question wasn't to find genes for good cognition," said Anil Malhotra, principal investigator of the study. "It was to figure out what the effect of this risk form of the gene was, and that led us to our findings."

Malhotra and his team administered tests of mental acuity and took DNA samples from 213 schizophrenic patients and 126 healthy volunteers. The results showed that a specific variation of the dysbindin gene was not only associated with an increased risk for schizophrenia, but also with a low performance in general cognition. The researchers say this variation of the gene affects mental ability regardless of whether its carrier develops a mental illness, leading them to believe that the gene, in all its variations, is directly related to general intelligence.

"If having this risk form makes you perform worse, then in the other forms the converse is true—you perform better," Malhotra said.

The study is appearing in the journal Human Molecular Genetics, and found that the variant form of dysbindin-1 that is associated with lower intelligence was present in 7% of the general population and 12% of the schizophrenic population. In addition to an increased risk of schizophrenia, individuals who posses this gene variation can also expect to perform 3% to 5% percent worse on standardized neuropsychological cognition tests, which rate a person's mental skills in reading comprehension, attention, verbal fluency and memory.

According to Katherine Burdick, the study's principal author, these findings support the argument that genes (or the nature half of the nature vs. nurture equation) are significant determinants of intelligence.

Jensen has noted the link between intelligence and raw brainspeed.

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