I recently found out what ludology means. Thereupon, I found the website of Jesper Juul. It seems ludology comes from the Latin - either vb. ludo, ludare (to play) or n. ludum (game).

The history of the field goes back to the flea circus or even, all the way back to the Egyptians, or Sumerians - with the board game 'jackals' or semiotic game-like clay tokens, a precursor of cuneiform. The theory is that the edges of the these tokens were impressed into clay tablets - to record their presence, without having to lug around the tokens in order to communicate.

There is an emerging social science of game development that describes context outside of pure coding, understanding "systems thinking" in the subtext of a routine.

This blog looks, well, like the Economist.



Cat Vision

Have you ever been watching a cat when suddenly something gets its attention, and it looks intently off into blank space? What do they see?

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iBrain Page Integration

I've received a couple of emails on integrating iBrain with Google Adsense, or other ad services that fit into the margin. My answer was that you can (1) easily add iBrain to your blog's margin, blogroll - or list of links, or the footer, or in the post.

Here's an example:

from recoveryissexy.com
- also you can see it at the tripover.com

This is a particularly good fit for authors, which I'll explain in a future post.

(2) With regard to the technology, well I'm giving an invited talk at SRI International next week, a place where they developed the computer mouse and licensed it to xerox parc. Pick up ibrain at Brain.com or cognitivelabs/widgets

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X Prize, Musk, Branson, Bezos, Bigelow, Consumer Space, Diamandis

carrie-ann moss and val kilmer in 'red planet'

'Drunken Astronauts' became one of the top searches on Google today, leading us into perhaps, a Consumer Space Status Report. Who are the players? Who has an interesting take on the field, who has the bet hedged to lessen the risk? Who (if any) are the wildcard players?

- Branson: successful trial (despite today's accident)
- Musk: progress towards successful launch vehicle
- Bezos: launch vehicle with alternate design
- Diamandis: zero G corp, giving a feeling zerograv to the masses
- Bigelow: successful trial of 'hotel in space' model, hedged approach

red planet capital:
venture capital firm focused on low-budget space, funded partially by nasa, with a wild card strategy

in contrast, NASA itself has had 3 scandals this year, all relating to people:
- astronaut love triangle/attempted assault
- drunken astronaut story
- sabotage on the Shuttle?

Now, look at the budget for the aggregate 6 ventures/projects above (modest) compared to Nasa's annual manned spaceflight budget - the difference is an exponential multiple, with less achieved.

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Scaled Composites

Scaled Composites is in the news today because of an explosion of its rocket booster intended for Virgin Galactic at Mojave airport. SC also sold its remaining outstanding equity to Northrop Grumman on July 20, 2007 for an undisclosed sum.

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The Mysterious Sliding Rocks of Death Valley's Racetrack

Rocks move without human or mechanical intervention. In fact, they are blown by the wind across the rain soaked Playa - only under certain conditions.

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Voracious, Jumbo Squid Invades California Coast

The area around Monterey Bay is intensely rich, due to the collision of differential ocean currents. Monterey was noted early on by the Spanish as an ideal resting spot to take on provisions for the so-called Manila Galleons making return voyages across the Pacific before they sailed south along the coast of Baja California to New Spain.

Now, due perhaps to climatic changes, a species of giant squid first observed in the area in 1997 has been growing in population and threatens the central coast's rebounding anchovie and hake population. The California Anchovie industry, centered at Monterey - was made famous by the book Cannery Row, peaked in the 1920s and 30's and then declined for more than 60 years before starting to rebound in the 1990's, while hake is a white fish often made into fish sticks.

The new aggressive predator threatens the revival of the environmental balance in the area.

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Cognitive Labs at SRI International

Aerial image of SRI (wikipedia)

Cognitive Labs' has just concluded an outstanding meeting with SRI International. They've been party to some amazing innovations including the computer mouse, which they licensed to Xerox Parc for a small sum, as well as a variety of highly interesting, speculative projects. You can read more about the scope of SRI here. The 2.1 million people who have signed up at Cognitive Labs - seems to have been somewhat impressive, and speaks to the future of extended cognitive health management.

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FlyWheel Powered Green Vehicles

With all the fuss over 'green'


Chip Implants for Alzheimer's Patients? It May Happen

Workers in a few cases have been 'tagged' with implants to follow their movements. The same technology could be used to monitor Alzheimer's patients and perhaps, young children.

A couple of years ago I jokingly told a friend about kidtrack - a sim-card powered GPS service you could get for your mobile phone - this was a product idea, nothing more; today an analagous service offering from one of the major carriers has been rolled out.

Certainly there are ethical and legal issues surrounding such technologies meant to keep us 'safe' but with a perhaps, 1984-style surveillance component.

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Insulin Levels in the Brain:The Key to Long Life?

Low Insulin Levels in the Brain, best obained through regular exercise and diet, has been linked to longer life. Now scientists have replicated this observation by genetically engineering mice to have have increased insulin receptivity. The mice lived on average, 18% longer than others in a control group, despite putting on extra weight as a result of the introduced genetic condition.

Centenagarians often are observed to have lower than normal insulin levels in the brain, often a result of regular exercise of long duration...

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Cognitive Labs 2nd Quarter Report - MP3

Cognitive Labs blows the doors off the 2nd Quarter. While stocks continue to move higher, some tech companies are feeling the pressure of their past success.

At Cognitive Labs' Traffic Volume (pages viewed) soared 853% vs. the same period last year; Visitors accelerated 696% vs. the 2nd Q 2006.

Listen to our report.

Average visitor time (one of the new metrics being emphasized by Neilsen and others) passed 20 minutes per session, up 70% from last year.


2 new brain gyms and the Cognitive Labs widget. The widget is a nano-sized piece of code that lets anyone test their brain and runs on any site or blog.

You can also get the widget (iBrain) at brain.com.

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New and Improved iBrain Widget

Exactly as above. Works on any web page. (Need to test myspace/facebook though I suspect it works there as well)

here's the code...embed style="width: 160px; height: 155px;"src="http://cognitivelabs.com/test1160x155sun.swf"type="application/x-shockwave-flash" scale="exactfit"> then type "<" /embed> at the end

Add the "<" bracket right in front of the "e" in embed and you are set.

or just go here to get the blogger widget - functional on all platforms

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ReZoom: Revitalize Body, Finance, Brain

ReZoom is a site for boomers to revitalize their bodies, finances, relationships, and more. Here's their piece on the brain and memory with Dr. Gary Small; we're mentioned at the end.

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Bratz Brain Test?

Should there be a Bratz Brain test? That might be simply too commercial. Take a test

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UCLA researchers Isolate Anti-Alzheimer's Compound in Curry

Researchers such as Greg Cole (UCLA/VA) previously have studied the antioxidant properties of curry - attributing it to curcumin. But new research reveals the exact compound...

bisdemethoxycurcumin, an ingredient in curcumin that may help the immune system clear the amyloid beta that forms the plaques found in Alzheimer's disease. Curcumin is a natural substance found in tumeric root, frequently used in Indian curries. Using blood samples of Alzheimer's patients, researchers found that bisdemethoxycurcumin boosted immune cells called macrophages to clear amyloid beta.

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Aging Women with Memory Concerns More Likely to Suffer Insomnia

Accrording to a study led by Dr. Kristina Yaffe (UCSF), older women with memory problems are more likely to have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep than those without memory loss, the study reports.

The study included almost 2,500 women, average age 69, with no signs of memory problems at the start of the study. They underwent cognitive tests over a period of 15 years and, at the end of the study, were assessed for sleep problems.

Women who showed signs of mental decline on the tests "were nearly twice as likely to have difficulty staying asleep and one-and-a-half times as likely to have problems falling asleep and being awake for more than 90 minutes during their sleep cycle," study author Dr. Yaffe.

"Women who declined on one of the tests were also nearly twice as likely to nap more than two hours a day," Yaffe said.

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Free Brain Power Test - Brain.com

Take a Free Brain Power Test here or on brain.com

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Weight Training Good for the Heart, the Face

Governor Schwarzenegger, in the day

Scientists have long stressed cardiovascular exercise as far more important than physical strength or mass, however that opinion may be changing - as weight-training has been shown in a new study to be good for the heart.

Another benefit of weight training in connection to aging is its ability to reduce the pace of bone mass decline. Little known to some people, loss of bone mass is a key culprit in actually looking old, particularly in the case of men.

First the skin begins to age and through loss of naturally occurring collagen, becomes wrinkled and less resistant - exacerbated by not drinking enough water. The loss of bone mass means less pressure on the skin and subcutaneous tissue from active bone tissue. As a result, the angularity of the face can become less prominent - which happens with aging. However, maintaining bone mass is something you can control to an extent by the amount of stress you place on the bones, fueled by a proper diet and sufficient calcium. This is why drinking milk regularly is a good idea, coupled with weight training.

This is why many people in their 60's and 70's or older, look sometimes 15-25 years younger than their calendar age, plus are also healthier and less likely to suffer from loss of balance and falls as they age.

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Perseids to Be Spectacular

This year, treat yourself to an all natural special effects display: the Perseid meteor shower. The Perseids, a remnant of an Earth encounter with a comet in ancient times, appear to originate from the shoulder area of the constellation Perseus. The expectation is for a heavier than usual shower coupled with a new moon. Perfect conditions.

Our Cognitive Labs recommendation is to get out into the dark, rural, desert, or mountain skies on August 12th to see this wonder. Around midnight, camp out under the stars with a sleeping bag or canvas chair and wait for the light show to begin, resting your gaze at the zenith. You should easily be able to see the double-cluster of stars which lies between Perseus and Cassiopeia under dark skies.

A couple of years ago we took in this spectacle from the Mammoth area in Yellowstone National Park, which is on the Eastern slope of the caldera and relatively treeless ( in fact sagebrush is more common) due to the rain shadow created by the Continental Divide a few miles west.

Sometimes the meteors are bright enough to leave a ray or afterimage.

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Revitalize your mind with a little ActionScript

Revitalize your mind with a little ActionScript. Verily, this is an odd little scripting language. You can serialize objects, but must become accustomed to the sometimes obscure syntax therein.

With its recent open-sourcing by Adobe, count on a river of innovations. For those accutomed to working in a text editor, white screen environment there is an acculturation process because many times you end up working in a small, framed space that accidentally gets minimized - so there is a constant fear of losing that last code snippet. But quickly becomes second nature as you realize how much ActionScript code is rehashed (for example by creative agencies doing ads) so really the level of creativity should be much better

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2012: The Real Story?

2012: Will it happen? Mayan Legend has it that the year 2012 is the end of the Calendar. Some have forseen an apocalpyse. Is it related to global waming? A planetary convergence of some kind? A comet impact? Or a supernova? The Aquarian Age? Fact, or Fiction? Maybe it is the onset of cosmic senescence. Time will tell. Maybe it's time to enter yourself into the record book - of human eternity.

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Transform Your Brain, There's More than Meets the Eye

Transformers Brain Gym from Cognitive Labs. Train your brain with pics from the Dreamworks/Paramount film. Bumbleebee, Optimus Prime, and more. Using the stock photos of the film from Yahoo! Movies. Could it happen with more movies? We'll see.

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Reagan, the Great Communicator

Ronald Reagan did a lot to raise awareness of Alzheimer's. Fortunately for him, he lived a long full life when it began to rob him of his mental faculties.

The art of oratory has been in free fall since his presidency; while Bill Clinton was a skilled, if somewhat mechanical speaker - Reagan was able to exude sincerity and authenticity - whether he was talking about the sacrifice of thousands on D-Day, World Peace to the United Nations, what kind of threat it might take to draw all nations together, or the economy. Whatever side of the political spectrum you were on, his skill and self-effacing concern for others was apparent.

He developed these skills in part by promoting soap...Borax, the sponsor of Death Valley Days, the longest running Western series (prior to 'Gunsmoke') and others.

By the way, the Presidential brain gym, taking longer to complete than the Transcontinental railroad (it seems) is done, all the way from Washington through Lincoln, FDR, JFK, Reagan, Carter, Clinton, and Bush.

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Yahoo Answers: Crowd Kudos to Cognitive Labs

Cognitive Labs got a nice mention in Yahoo! Answers today as a (the) topdog serious brain game site. All of a sudden traffic started flowing in from that URL, like the digg effect. In particular our extremely simple registration process was highlighted. Our goal is to make registration at least 50% easier than it is right now. Think of Jakob Nielsen-like simplicity. So simple, it's counterintuitive.
How many times are you confronted with "you must join our site, create a user name, password, SSN, favorite pet, etc. in order to user our wonderful web site." Until the portable identity is 100% adopted which is probably not going to happen, our ascetic "lean" form of registration is hopefully closer to satori.


registration sucks
i really don't like passwords
just let me play now

That said, our new goal is to reach 500 million users as an informational service.

Next Up: Can Hollywood Fight Cognitive Impairment? Find out Here.

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New Alzheimer's Treatment

A new treatment for Alzheimer's was approved - Exelon delivered via patch instead of a pill. The rationale is less nausea and more direct access to the bloodstream.

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Switzerland User Catches a Bug

A conscientious Cognitive Labs user in Switzerland noticed a few issues in the Einstein Brain Gym related to multiple trials on a few of the games. Thanks to this attentiveness, we have improved our service. And we will be making a few more changes. Only a thorough user would have noticed this. Thankfully such people exist.

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Predictive Medicine, Genotype

Predictive Medicine is becoming more popular. In predictive medicine, therapeutics developers attempt to match treatments with individual genotype variations.

You receive a treatment that is individualized. Here is some information on the drug developer Myriad Genetics, which has a product called Flourizan in development. Cognitive Impairment is the intended field of use for this novel treatment.

Recently, some of our technology at Cognitive Labs was featured in a major Neurology exhibition, as it let attendees (who were physicians) assess and track their mental state.



Yahoo Games, Pogo, Cognitive Labs, Addicting Games

Nice mention of Cognitive Labs in Louis Gray's Silicon Valley blog, we're favorably compared to Yahoo Games, Pogo (Electronic Arts) and Addicting Games (now part of Viacom).

While bigger, none of those sites has a golden bullet to take on a real large scale problem.

Lots of really interesting scientific developments are on the way, starting with our recent Stanford-researched paper on the APOE e4 genetic marker and Online cognitive testing.

Our newest feature, the Gladiator brain gym, is contributing about 10% of our traffic. Tomorrow, this will segue to the presidential brain gym.

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Doctor Visits, Depression Surge

Maybe part of the solution is more exercise, less sedentarism. In the article below, antidepressant prescriptions exceed those for high blood pressure by a slim margin. Interestingly, eating healthy and exercising impact both of these two conditions. In the first case, exercise can help you modulate levels of seritonin and release endorphins, if there is a deficit - rather than relying on a pill to chemically achieve the result. An antidepressant will also offer no cardiovascular benefits. Regular exercise and proper diet can also help control high blood pressure..

Hospital and doctor visits in the United States have surged by 20 percent in the past five years and the most commonly prescribed medications are antidepressants, according to statistics published on Friday.

The survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found most people who visited emergency rooms had private health insurance, although the uninsured were twice as likely to use emergency services as people with insurance.

The report estimates that 1.2 billion visits were made to hospitals, emergency rooms and physicians' offices in 2005.

"It was only a few years ago that we released that the total number of visits had reached 1 billion. And now we are up to 1.2 billion," Catharine Burt of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics said in a telephone interview.

"That's a 20 percent increase in the just the last five years -- a huge number," said Burt. "I can tell you that the number of hospitals and physicians has not increased 20 percent."

The reason is clear -- Americans are getting older. "When you reach 50 things start going wrong, just little by little, and you keep going back to the doctors," Burt said.

The baby boom generation -- born between 1946 and 1964 -- are now prime users of the medical system.

Burt's team surveyed 352 hospitals and about 1,200 physicians throughout 2005 for the study.


Of 2.4 billion drugs mentioned in patients' medical records in 2005, 118 million were antidepressants, Burt found. High blood pressure drugs followed, with 113 million and arthritis or headache drugs were mentioned in 110 million.

"These are visits. These aren't people," she said. People taking antidepressants may need more frequent doctor visits.

The report also shed light on the controversial issue of emergency room visits. Many health care experts are worried that the 43 million people who lack health insurance in the United States must rely on emergency rooms for care -- not the best way to prevent serious conditions.

The survey suggests this is true. "People with no insurance are twice as likely to use the emergency department as the privately insured," Burt said.

Nearly 28 percent of all doctors visits by uninsured people are to emergency rooms, compared to 6.6 percent of visits made by people with insurance.

The report found that 46 million of the visits made to ERs in 2005 were by people with insurance, compared to 19 million by people without insurance.

"With 315,000 people visiting emergency departments every day, the alarm bells are sounding and policymakers should heed the alert and respond," said Dr. Brian Keaton, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, which is pressing for a national commission on access to emergency medical services.

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