Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Articulate Storyline notes

Chromeless / custom player settings

1. Remove all interface elements: Go to Home > Player (player properties), uncheck all.

2. Remove border/frame: Go to player properties > colors/effects > adv. editing.
Select base>>bg, border, & slide bg and set to 100% transparent for all three attributes.

Adjust background color.

3. Save / rename custom player settings: Player properties > current player > save as

4. Remove Prev/Next buttons (affects slide only).
Storyview > slide properties (on right), slide nav. controls (uncheck).
Normal view > gear icon (uncheck attributes).

5. Player size: Defaults to 720x540. Go to Design > Storysize.

8. Save file as a template - articulate > save as > storyline template

NOTE: Editable via html: Player size, bgcolor, little else.

Relevant links, chromeless player:


Installation Notes

Articulate's support articles about installing and running Storyline on a Mac:

Friday, May 17, 2013

Brain Stimulation Can Boost Math Skills

Administering high-frequency electrical noise to the brain can actually boost math skills up to six months later, according to a small study at the University of Oxford.

The finding was published in the journal Current Biology and outlines a technique that consists of placing electrodes on the scalp of the head and administering random electrical noise to stimulate parts of the brain - causing nerve cells to fire. During this study, the electrodes were placed on the head to aim at hitting regions of the brain known to be involved in doing math.

This technique is known as transcranial random noise stimulation (TRNS) and is painless, non-invasive, and inexpensive. The researchers developed the current study to examine whether TRNS given while performing the mental math tasks each day had an effect.

The researchers asked 51 Oxford students to complete two math tasks over a five-day time frame that analyzed their ability to conduct calculations in their head and learn math facts quicker by heart. There were 25 volunteers in the main experiment and 26 in the control experiment.

Dr Roi Cohen Kadosh of the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford, who led the research, said:

'We found that with just 5 days of TRNS-accompanied cognitive training, we were able to bring about long-lasting improvements in cognitive and brain functions. Our neuroimaging results suggested that TRNS increases the efficiency with which stimulated brain areas use their supplies of oxygen and nutrients."

The study was small-scale and is not something that should be replicated at home, because of the possibility of harm. More research is needed to determine how this method may be used in the future.

Dr. Cohen Kadosh believes the current findings are a stepping stone to a line of research to determine whether the results can be repeated in larger and more diverse groups of people. He explains:

"If experimental results continue in this positive direction, we hope that these painless, safe and cheap non-invasive stimulation techniques will one-day be used in the clinic, classrooms and even home to help those who struggle with certain cognitive tasks. This could include anyone from a child falling behind in his/her maths class to an elderly patient suffering from neurodegenerative disease."

How TRNS stimulates the firing of individual neurons in the brain is still a mystery. Some believe that TRNS boosts the synchronization in firing of neurons in the area of the brain that receives the stimulation.

To date, studies have shown TRNS to be harmless physically. This technique is part of a category known as transcranial electrical stimulation (TES) that has been proven to positively affect a wide range of cognitive activities. The authors are hopeful for the outlook of TRNS.

The Oxford group has also previously revealed an additional type of brain stimulation known as TDCS, which may make people more efficient at learning and processing new numerical symbols. However, there may be some side effects regarding other cognitive functions with this method.

In the current study, the investigators did not see negative aspects of TRNS in other non-mathematical tasks. TRNS did not impact performance positively or negatively in these tasks.

Dr. Cohen Kadosh concludes, 'It is very important that future work in this field makes an effort to identify any downsides of TES, and ensure that the boosting of one cognitive ability does not come at the expense of another."

Written by Kelly Fitzgerald
Copyright: Medical News Today

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Neuro Gaming Conference

Gaming as a hobby evokes images of lethargic teenagers huddled over their controllers, submerged in their couch surrounded by candy bar wrappers. This image should soon hit the reset button since a more exciting version of gaming is coming. It’s called neurogaming, and it’s riding on the heels of some exponential technologies that are converging on each other. Many of these were on display recently in San Francisco at the NeuroGaming Conference and Expo; a first-of-its-kind conference whose existence alone signals an inflection point in the industry.

Conference founder, Zack Lynch, summarized neurogaming to those of us in attendance as the interface, “where the mind and body meet to play games.”

Driven by explosive growth in computer processing, affordable sensors, and new haptic sensation technology, neurogame designers have entirely new toolkits to craft an immersive experience  that simulates our waking life. Lucid journeys into the dreamscapes depicted in films like Inception may soon become possible.

Recently developed platforms like Xbox Kinect and Nintendo Wii don’t require the motor skill to use complex gamepads, so it’s common to see three year olds and even seventy-three year olds showing those teenagers a thing or two about Nintendo Wii tennis. The next step for game designers is to introduce psycho-emotional inputs measuring anything from heart rate, facial analysis, voice measurement, skin conductance, eye tracking, pupil dilation, brain activity, and your ever-changing emotional profile. These games will know the user at a subconscious level and deliver an experience that could forever blur the line between virtual and reality.

The future of neurogaming depends heavily on continued development of reliable augmented and virtual reality technologies. Chatter about Google Glass was everywhere, and I especially enjoyed sampling the Oculus Rift, a crowd favorite. I was stunned by the high degree of realism in navigating the game map inside one developer’s world where I experienced shooting a virtual basketball in an open court. Experiencing a game as a total first person observer is a somewhat psychedelic and mind-bending experience. Wearing an Oculus, that Wii tennis match may seem a bit more interesting when you’re competing at Wimbledon with a lifelike crowd on hand to cheer you on.
With the Oculus Rift, Stanford virtual reality expert Walter Greenleaf pointed out that, “Virtual Reality could finally be at a turning point. It’s available at an accessible price point, with unparalleled levels of connectivity, visual and auditory immersion, and the latency to enable more natural body movement.”

Neurogames also pull together technologies that deliver feedback to immerse players in ways never before possible. One such output technology included a recently developed device at the University of Utah, which uses sliding bars inside handle controllers to recreate the sensation of holding a real object.  Imagine a next generation Wii controller that simulates an actual tennis racket during that Wimbledon final.

Here’s a video of the tech in action:


Neurogames are sure to entertain, but they’re also amplifying gaming’s reach into other sectors as well.

Games are leaving those teenage living rooms behind, a point endorsed by the crowd demographics. Conference attendees ranged from healthcare providers, educators, defense experts, and sport scientists; all of whom are hoping to apply neurogaming to their industry. “Gaming could make us as humans, better in every way,” says game designer Noah Falstein.  Football players are using lifelike virtual reality to simulate real game scenarios complete with crowd noise, and football avatars going through actual plays. Two-a-days could now happen from the comfort of a computer lab, instead of the August sun.

Healthcare providers are increasingly working with game designers to create therapeutic neurogames to treat PTSD, ADHD, and other behavioral and emotional disorders. Already, brain-controlled interface companies like InterAxon offer meditation assistance apps. Many experts talked of a day when games are prescribed in place of today’s pharmaceuticals for disorders like depression and anxiety.

Lumos Labs was on hand to present Lumosity, an online brain fitness platform created by Stanford neuroscientists that battle memory loss, boost attention, and treat emotional disorders. With over 40 million users worldwide, Lumosity is an indication that brain fitness should be a growing industry segment.

The possibilities for these technologies to aid the defense community were showcased throughout the conference. Former DARPA program manager Dr. Amy Kuse says, “These tools are helping us augment human performance in incredible ways,” With aid from tools like EEG monitoring, tDCS ( was on hand to show off their commercial product), and brain-controlled interfaces, DARPA was able to increase sniper marksmanship performance by a factor of 2. Enhanced training coupled with brain monitoring tools could give soldiers simulated combat experience while alerting superiors of PTSD symptoms in real time.

Recreational home use of these devices will see dramatic evolution. As neurogaming content development matures, casual gamers will see entirely new modalities of storytelling and immersion. Even the music and imagery will be driven by the users emotional state.

Imagine if gaming looked like this :

The rise of neurogaming won’t occur without hiccups. Hardware designers must cope with “consumer vanity” issues that come with wearables like EEG, and other display headsets. Only time will tell if Google Glass users are welcomed as style innovators or shunned as wandering cyborgs.
Deeper questions surrounding the morality of neurogames will be sure to stir debate. As virtual reality technology inches closer to lifelike resolution, should gamers simulate themselves as characters engaged in acts of violence or criminal activity?

It’s unpredictable what these games could uncover about the user as neurogames gain insight into a users’ psyche and how they respond to stimuli at a subconscious level. For instance, a game could uncover how its user particularly enjoys shooting at civilians in gameplay. Games might even become expert at diagnosing psychiatric disorders.

As computers become exponentially more powerful, game resolution could fully mimic our ever-present reality. At that point, it may be quite impossible to distinguish real life from our virtual worlds. The days of artificial second life as real as our own isn’t quite here, but what energizes the prospects of neurogaming today, are that many of the underlying technologies that make it possible already exist. As these technologies begin to converge in the next few years, we will begin to understand the scope of how these technologies will be used.
The neurogames on hand now are just beginning to scratch the surface of what’s possible, but it’s clear that we are forever eliminating the barrier between our games and our brains.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Reversing gray hair, vitiligo

Say Bye-Bye to Gray Hair, Researchers Find Way to Reverse The Process

What has become ubiquitous with age - gray hair - may soon become a thing of the past. Forget about trips to the hair salon, or buying box dye to cover up those roots, a team of European researchers say.
In a new research report published online in The FASEB Journal people who go gray develop massive oxidative stress via accumulation of hydrogen peroxide in the hair follicle, which causes hair to bleach itself from the inside out.
The report notes that the enormous accumulation of hydrogen peroxide can be cured with a proprietary treatment developed by the researchers described as a topical, ultraviolet B-activated -- sunlight -- compound PC-KUS, a modified pseudocatalase.

What's more, the study also showed the same treatment works for the skin condition, vitiligo which is a condition that causes de-pigmentation of sections of skin. Although vitiligo isn't an agonizing, or dangerous condition, it can still be pretty distressing because it can change people's appearance so much, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. One to 2 million people in the U.S. have vitiligo, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

"For generations, numerous remedies have been concocted to hide gray hair," said Dr. Gerald Weissmann, the editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal, "but now, for the first time, an actual treatment that gets to the root of the problem has been developed. While this is exciting news, what's even more exciting is that this also works for vitiligo. This condition, while technically cosmetic, can have serious socio-emotional effects of people. Developing an effective treatment for this condition has the potential to radically improve many people's lives."

In the current study, an international group of 2,411 patients with vitiligo, 2.4 percent were diagnosed with strictly segmental vitiligo and after treatment of the pseudocatalase activated via sunlight, the pigment of the skin and eyelashes returned.

The researchers did not specify when the treatment would become available for retail.