https://hackaday.com/2020/07/12/making-smalltalk-on-a-raspberry-pi/

MAKING SMALLTALK ON A RASPBERRY PI

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July 12, 2020

Today, you probably don’t think much about object-oriented programming, it’s just part of the landscape. But decades ago, it was strange and obscure technology. While there were several languages that led up to the current object-oriented tools we use today, one of the most influential was Xerox PARC’s Smalltalk language. [Michael Engel] took a C++ implementation of the Smalltalk VM, some byte code for a complete Smalltalk system, a Raspberry Pi “bare metal” library, and produced a Smalltalk workstation running on a bare Raspberry Pi — even a Pi Zero. The code is on GitHub and is admittedly a work in progress.

Smalltalk was interesting — and sometimes annoying — because everything was an object. Literally everything. The system took over the entire machine. It provided the GUI, the compiler, and the run time libraries. That’s probably why it was easy for [Michael] to forego the usual Linux OS for his project.

If you don’t want to use a spare flash card to boot into the system, there are Smalltalk 80 versions that run on normal operating systems. The tutorial in that program’s user manual might be helpful to you if you haven’t done Smalltalk before.

Even a lowly integer is a full-scale object in Smalltalk. When you say “3+2” you are actually saying, in Smalltalk, that you have an integer object with value 3 that receives a + message with an integer argument of 2. If you were trying to wrap your mind around object-oriented principles, this was very confusing, although with a few decades of hindsight, it makes more sense. Smalltalk also did a lot to popularize the model/view/controller design for graphical user interface software.

We’ve looked at object-oriented for state machines before, which is a nice use case. If you want to see just how well PARC predicted the future, check out the mother of all demos.Posted in Raspberry PiSoftware HacksTagged object orientedraspberry pismalltalk

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-power-of-psychedelics/

The Power of Psychedelics

They worked for my depression; could they be the future of psychiatry?

The Power of Psychedelics
In 2012, I had my first psychedelic experiences, as a subject in a clinical trial at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit. I was given two doses of psilocybin spaced a month apart to treat my cancer-related depression.
During one session, deep within the world the drug evoked, I found myself inside a steel industrial space. Women were bent over long tables, working. I became aware of my animosity towards my two living siblings. A woman seated at the end of a table wearing a net cap and white clothes, turned and handed me a tall Dixie cup.
“You can put that in here,” she said. The cup filled itself with my bilious, sibling-directed feelings. “We’ll put it over there.” She turned and placed the cup matter-of-factly on a table at the back of the room. Then she went back to her tasks.

Whenever I speak with her, Mary Cosimano, the director of guide/facilitator services at Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, mentions the women in the chamber and the cup. My experience struck a chord. For me, the women in the chamber have become a transcendent metaphor for emotional healing.

“I’ve thought about having a necklace made, with the cup, as a momento,” she said the last time I saw her at a conference. “Have you thought about it?”

Prior to their 1971 prohibition, psilocybin and LSD were administered to approximately 40,000 patients, among them people with terminal cancer, alcoholics and those suffering from depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The results of the early clinical studies were promising, and more recent research has been as well.

The treatment certainly helped me. Eight years after my sessions, researchers continue to prove the same point again and again in an ongoing effort to turn psychedelic drug therapy into FDA-sanctioned medical treatment. This can’t happen soon enough.

“Psychopharmacology as a field had stalled. Many patients don’t respond to conventional treatment with SSRIs,” says Charles Grob, M.D., professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral Sciences at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, and the first modern clinical researcher to treat advanced-stage cancer patients suffering from depression and anxiety with psychedelics.

There is little hard evidence to show that long-term psychotherapy is effective in treating mental illness, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And there’s the cost, which fewer and fewer insurers underwrite and ordinary people can’t afford.

The failure of the psychotherapeutic process is located at its epicenter: the power disparity in the therapeutic dyad. Merely walking through the consulting room door, the patient subordinates herself to the therapist, who, by virtue of a title, is presumed to know more about her than she does herself. Transference and countertransferance—offspring of Freudian psychoanalysis—are cogs in the same moribund engine. The field will not change until the therapeutic relationship as it has been structured since the 19th century disappears.

Psychedelic drug therapy subverts the timeworn patriarchal hierarchy by creating an atmosphere of cooperation and trust rather than competition and domination. Or, to state it more bluntly, what women do in structured settings rather than what men do; women create cooperatives, men create hierarchies.

The treatment space is furnished like a lounge, with couches, chairs and table lamps. A music track plays. Two trained guides, one male, one female, are seated close by, ready to help if the emotional path becomes difficult. Guides are not therapists; instead they serve as trusted companions along a perilous, transformative spiritual journey. The sessions are led by the subject herself, by her feelings and perceptions throughout the experience and the way she processes them afterward.

“The drug is a skeleton key which unlocks an interior door to places we don’t generally have access to,” says psychologist William A. Richards, one of the researchers who successfully treated patients with hallucinogens in the 1960s and early 1970s. “It’s a therapeutic accelerant.”

MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is rapidly proving effective in treating PTSD. MDMA is an “entactogen”: it touches within in a way talking does not. Michael Mithoefer, a psychiatrist in Charleston, S.C., who has worked with military personnel and first responders, conducted a phase II clinical trial using MDMA to treat PTSD.

“[Treatment is] not just revisiting the traumatic experiences,” he said. “It’s a process of affirming a different experience on all levels, including in the body.”

During MDMA sessions, subjects become more emotionally flexible and able to stay the course while exploring difficult memories. Many experience an enduring change in their response to emotional triggers. Clinicians hope to see MDMA approved by the FDA for PTSD treatment as early as 2022.

Treatment with psychedelic drugs represents a paradigm shift in the approach to mental health. For me, the change in the field is embodied by the presence of the busy women along my journey. The women treated my feelings as matters of fact, not to be avoided, reviled or fled from, but so obvious and ordinary they could be poured into a Dixie cup and set aside.

The success of the cancer studies has led to investigational treatment for patients suffering from intractable depression, early-stage Alzheimer’s, anorexia nervosa and smoking addiction. Within a few years, the patriarchal therapeutic model could be a thing of the past, supplanted by short-term guided treatment with psychoactive drugs.

Erica Rex

Erica Rex has written for Scientific AmericanThe New York TimesThe Times (UK), The IndependentSalonThe Economist and many other publications. She is a recipient of National Magazine Award for Fiction. She is working on a book about PTSD, depression, and the reintroduction of psychedelic drugs as therapy.

https://www.psypost.org/2020/07/neuroimaging-study-links-addictive-smartphone-use-to-altered-brain-activity-57324

Neuroimaging study links addictive smartphone use to altered brain activity

BY ERIC W. DOLAN Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

A recently published study provides new insight into the brain mechanisms underlying addictive smartphone use. The research, which appears in the journal Addictive Behaviors, found evidence of altered neural activity in response to smartphone cues among compulsive smartphone users.

The corresponding author of the study, Robert Christian Wolf, became interested in examining compulsive smartphone use after witnessing people who were “spending more time with their smartphone than with their family or friends.”

“In the past years, increased concerns have been expressed in the scientific literature regarding potentially adverse effects on physical and mental health of excessive smartphone use. This behavior has been frequently referred to as ‘smartphone addiction’. Recent research has highlighted behavioral similarities between excessive smartphone use and other addictive disorders, such as Internet Gaming Disorder,” explained Wolf, who is the deputy director at the Department of General Psychiatry at Heidelberg University in Germany.

“We employed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate cue-related activity in individuals with smartphone addiction, as defined by validated psychometric scales. Cue reactivity has been one of the most important and therapeutically relevant paradigms in addiction research for decades.”

“Cue reactivity is based on conditioning mechanisms, in which over time, salient stimuli (cues) are tightly linked to rewarding properties. Cue reactivity can trigger the execution of certain behavioral acts that over time can lead to addiction. Neural correlates of cue reactivity in other addictive disorders (e.g. alcohol use disorder) are well known, but at the time we conducted our study, nothing was known about the neural signature of cue reactivity in smartphone addiction,” Wolf said.

In the study, the researchers compared the brain activity of 21 individuals who fit the criteria for smartphone addiction to 21 matched controls as they viewed a variety of images, including smartphones. “We employed an fMRI-paradigm with neutral stimuli and cues. Cues were smartphones, either switched off or on,” Wolf explained.

Those who fit the criteria for smartphone addiction reported that they constantly checked their smartphone, missed work due to smartphone use, had difficulties concentrating because of their smartphone, and felt impatient and fretful in the absence of their smartphone.

The researchers observed differences in neural activity in several brain regions, including the anterior cingulate cortex, inferior frontal gyrus, and medial prefrontal cortex as well as
in cerebellar and occipital regions. They also found neural activity differences between the two groups when viewing active vs. inactive smartphones.

“Persons with smartphone addiction showed a pattern of increased and decreased activity in specific brain regions, i.e. increased activity in parts of the brain that process salience, together with decreased activity in parts of the brain that subserve cognitive control or control,” Wolf told PsyPost.

“Differences in cortical activity were also found depending on whether smartphones were presented in an ‘off’ or ‘on’ condition. Overall, similar neural patterns of cue reactivity have been previously observed in other addictive disorders, both substance-use disorders and behavioral addictions.”

But the study — like all research — includes some limitations.

“The relatively modest sample size of this study should be acknowledged, as much as the cross-sectional study-design. Robust inference on causality cannot be made. Also, the CR-paradigm was not balanced out with respect to specific apps. We clearly need more data, particularly longitudinal studies in well-powered samples stratified by age, since adolescents and young adults are be more prone to excessive smartphone use,” Wolf said.

Though the researchers use the term smartphone addiction, they do not view compulsive smartphone use as the equivalent of other addictions, like substance abuse.

“The results of our study do not necessarily imply that smartphone addiction is ‘truly’ an addictive disorder, nor do they show that something is ‘abnormal’ in brains of people meeting psychometric criteria for smartphone addiction. It should be kept in mind that smartphone addiction is not a specific diagnostic category, i.e. it is not included in any of the extant diagnostic manuals for mental disorders,” Wolf explained.

“Smartphone use needs to be treated as dimensional phenomenon that may, in its extreme manifestation, meet criteria for addictive behavior. Clearly, several biopsychosocial features may increase the likelihood for such behavior. One of them, as our study suggests, could be neural variation related to salience processing and executive control.”

The study, “Neural correlates of cue reactivity in individuals with smartphone addiction“, was authored by Mike M. Schmitgen, Juliane Horvath, Christina Mundinger, Nadine D. Wolf, Fabio Sambataro, Dusan Hirjak, Katharina M. Kubera, Julian Koenig, Robert and Christian Wolf.

https://www.wired.com/story/how-to-trick-your-brain-to-remember-almost-anything/

How to Trick Your Brain to Remember Almost Anything

Four-time USA Memory Champion Nelson Dellis and psychological scientist Julia Shaw explain how to boost your memory skills.

an mri scan of normal brain
PHOTOGRAPH: LAURENCE DUTTON/GETTY IMAGES

MANY PEOPLE COMPLAIN about having a terrible memory. Shopping lists, friends’ birthdays, statistics for an exam—they just don’t seem to stick in the brain. But memory isn’t as set in stone as you might imagine. With the right technique, you may well be able to remember almost anything at all.WIRED UK

This story originally appeared on WIRED UK.

Nelson Dellis is a four-time USA Memory Champion and Grandmaster of Memory. Some of his feats of recollection include memorizing 10,000 digits of pi, the order of more than nine shuffled decks of cards, and lists of hundreds of names after only hearing them once.

But with a little dedication, Dellis says that anyone can improve their memory. Here are five steps to follow that will get your filling your head with information.1. Start With Strong Images

Let’s start with a fairly simple memorization task: the seven wonders of the world. To memorize these, Dellis recommends starting by turning each one of those items into an easily-remembered image. Some will be more obvious. For the Great Wall of China, for example, you might just want to imagine a wall. For Petra, you might instead go for an image of your own pet.

“Using juicy mental images like these is extremely effective. What you want to do is create big, multi-sensory memories,” explains Julia Shaw, a psychological scientist at University College London and the author of The Memory Illusion: Remembering, Forgetting, and the Science of False Memory. You want to aim for mental images that you can almost feel, smell and see, to make them as real as possible.

There’s science behind all of this. “Images that are weird, and maybe gross or emotional are sticky,” says Shaw. “When looking at the brain, researchers found that the amygdala—a part of the brain that is important for processing emotion—encourages other parts of the brain to store memories.” That’s why strong emotions make it more likely that memories will stick.2. Put Those Images in a Location

The next step is to put those strong mental images in a place that you’re really familiar with. In Dellis’ example, he places each one of the seven wonders on a route through his house, starting with a wall in his entryway, then Christ—representing Christ the Redeemer— lounging around on his sofa. “The weirder the better,” Dellis says. In the kitchen, you might imagine a Llama cooking up a meal.

This technique of linking images with places is called the memory palace, and it’s particularly useful for remembering the order of certain elements, says Shaw. “A memory palace capitalizes on your existing memory of a real place. It is a place that you know—usually your home or another location that you know really well.”

If it’s a list with just seven items, that space can be relatively small. But when it came to memorizing 10,000 digits of pi, Dellis had to widen out his memory palace to the entirety of his hometown, Miami. He divided the 10,000 digits into 2,000 chunks of five digits each, and placed them all across 10 different neighborhoods.

“Neuroimaging research has shown that people show increased activity in the [occipito-parietal area] of the brain when learning memories using a memory palace,” says Shaw. “This means that the technique helps to bring in more parts of the brain that are usually dedicated to other senses—the parietal lobe is responsible for navigation, and the occipital lobe is related to seeing images.”3. Pay Attention

Remembering seven weird images for the wonders of the world shouldn’t be too hard, but when you’re memorizing 10,000 digits of pi you might need a little more motivation. “I would tell myself this mantra. I want to memorize this, I want to memorize this,” Dellis says. “It’s a simple mantra but it would align my attention and focus on the task at hand and help me remember it better.”4. Break Things Up

With very large numbers like pi—or a long sequence of cards, for example, it also helps to break things up. Dellis turned each five digit chunk of pi into an image that he could easily remember. “Words are easy, you see a word and it typically evokes some kind of imagery in your mind. But things like numbers, or cards or even names are a little trickier,” he says. “And those have systems that we’ve developed and learned so that whenever we see a name or a number or a card, we already have an image preset for it.”Most Popular

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For Dellis, the first five digits of pi after the decimal point are represented by Sam Neill wearing an Iron Man suit (“It’s just the way it goes” he says). The second patch is represented by an image of his friend dressed as the emperor from the movie Gladiator, with his thumb down.5. Finish Up by Reviewing

Once you’ve got your images sorted and your memory palace populated, you just need to really make sure that they’re going to stay in your head. “Most memories never make it into your long-term memory,” says Shaw. “That’s why it’s so important to repeat the information, to transform a short-term memory into a long-term memory.”

And sadly there is no easy hack for that. It comes down to repetition, and hard work. “To become a memory champion I had to work at it every day. Train very hard and make it something that was just instinctive to me. And that only came with practice,” says Dellis. And if that sounds like a lot of work, well, you’d be right.

https://www.wired.com/story/how-to-trick-your-brain-to-remember-almost-anything/

How to Trick Your Brain to Remember Almost Anything

Four-time USA Memory Champion Nelson Dellis and psychological scientist Julia Shaw explain how to boost your memory skills.

an mri scan of normal brain

MANY PEOPLE COMPLAIN about having a terrible memory. Shopping lists, friends’ birthdays, statistics for an exam—they just don’t seem to stick in the brain. But memory isn’t as set in stone as you might imagine. With the right technique, you may well be able to remember almost anything at all.

Nelson Dellis is a four-time USA Memory Champion and Grandmaster of Memory. Some of his feats of recollection include memorizing 10,000 digits of pi, the order of more than nine shuffled decks of cards, and lists of hundreds of names after only hearing them once.

But with a little dedication, Dellis says that anyone can improve their memory. Here are five steps to follow that will get your filling your head with information.

Let’s start with a fairly simple memorization task: the seven wonders of the world. To memorize these, Dellis recommends starting by turning each one of those items into an easily-remembered image. Some will be more obvious. For the Great Wall of China, for example, you might just want to imagine a wall. For Petra, you might instead go for an image of your own pet.

“Using juicy mental images like these is extremely effective. What you want to do is create big, multi-sensory memories,” explains Julia Shaw, a psychological scientist at University College London and the author of The Memory Illusion: Remembering, Forgetting, and the Science of False Memory. You want to aim for mental images that you can almost feel, smell and see, to make them as real as possible.

There’s science behind all of this. “Images that are weird, and maybe gross or emotional are sticky,” says Shaw. “When looking at the brain, researchers found that the amygdala—a part of the brain that is important for processing emotion—encourages other parts of the brain to store memories.” That’s why strong emotions make it more likely that memories will stick.

The next step is to put those strong mental images in a place that you’re really familiar with. In Dellis’ example, he places each one of the seven wonders on a route through his house, starting with a wall in his entryway, then Christ—representing Christ the Redeemer— lounging around on his sofa. “The weirder the better,” Dellis says. In the kitchen, you might imagine a Llama cooking up a meal.

This technique of linking images with places is called the memory palace, and it’s particularly useful for remembering the order of certain elements, says Shaw. “A memory palace capitalizes on your existing memory of a real place. It is a place that you know—usually your home or another location that you know really well.”

If it’s a list with just seven items, that space can be relatively small. But when it came to memorizing 10,000 digits of pi, Dellis had to widen out his memory palace to the entirety of his hometown, Miami. He divided the 10,000 digits into 2,000 chunks of five digits each, and placed them all across 10 different neighborhoods.

“Neuroimaging research has shown that people show increased activity in the [occipito-parietal area] of the brain when learning memories using a memory palace,” says Shaw. “This means that the technique helps to bring in more parts of the brain that are usually dedicated to other senses—the parietal lobe is responsible for navigation, and the occipital lobe is related to seeing images.

Remembering seven weird images for the wonders of the world shouldn’t be too hard, but when you’re memorizing 10,000 digits of pi you might need a little more motivation. “I would tell myself this mantra. I want to memorize this, I want to memorize this,” Dellis says. “It’s a simple mantra but it would align my attention and focus on the task at hand and help me remember it better.

With very large numbers like pi—or a long sequence of cards, for example, it also helps to break things up. Dellis turned each five digit chunk of pi into an image that he could easily remember. “Words are easy, you see a word and it typically evokes some kind of imagery in your mind. But things like numbers, or cards or even names are a little trickier,” he says. “And those have systems that we’ve developed and learned so that whenever we see a name or a number or a card, we already have an image preset for it.

For Dellis, the first five digits of pi after the decimal point are represented by Sam Neill wearing an Iron Man suit (“It’s just the way it goes” he says). The second patch is represented by an image of his friend dressed as the emperor from the movie Gladiator, with his thumb down.5. Finish Up by Reviewing

Once you’ve got your images sorted and your memory palace populated, you just need to really make sure that they’re going to stay in your head. “Most memories never make it into your long-term memory,” says Shaw. “That’s why it’s so important to repeat the information, to transform a short-term memory into a long-term memory.”

And sadly there is no easy hack for that. It comes down to repetition, and hard work. “To become a memory champion I had to work at it every day. Train very hard and make it something that was just instinctive to me. And that only came with practice,” says Dellis. And if that sounds like a lot of work, well, you’d be right.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/javierhasse/2020/07/12/dr-mechoulam/#55dee78b6a45

More Potent Than CBD, THC: Dr. Raphael Mechoulam Explains His Latest Discovery

Javier HasseSenior ContributorVicesI write about all things cannabis, hemp, CBD and psychedelics.

ISRAEL-MARIJUANA-MEDICINE-HEALTH-CONFERENCE
Raphael Mechoulam delivers a speech to participants at the CannaTech conference, an international … [+] AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

Professor Raphael Mechoulam, also known as the “father of cannabis research,” revealed his latest discovery, cannabidiolic acid methyl ester (EPM301), only a few months ago. The introduction of this new, patented compound (synthetic, fully stable acid-based cannabinoid molecules) caused a wave of excitement around the future of medicinal cannabis.

The compound in question was presented to the world in partnership with EPM, a global biotechnology company based in the U.S. that aims to bridge the gap between the cannabis and pharmaceutical industries.

During a recent, exclusive conversation, CEO Reshef Swisa and Dr. Mechoulam, shared the history of the journey behind this revolutionary process and its significance in evolving the use of CBD as a pharmaceutical drug.Most Popular In: Vices

Meet EPM301

“EPM developed a method to work with the original substances of cannabis,” the Professor explained. “So, while everybody is discussing THC and CBD, these cannabinoids are actually a secondary substance; they only appear later in the plant.

“Originally there is an acid that appears in the plant, and those acids are these mysterious worlds of compounds that are much more potent than cannabinoids,” he added.

See also: University Of Toronto, Canadian Biotech Company Collaborate On Cannabinoid-Based COVID-19 Treatment

However, these cannabidiolic acids were unstable, and therefore useless in pharmaceutical drug development. Until now, that is.

Mechoulam’s recent revelation stems from the development of a method that allows to modify the acids in a way that keeps them stable enough to allow for their larg- scale use. This opens the door for further pharmaceutical experiments, the professor explained.

“We took a cannabidiol acid and we stabilized it by a simple chemical procedure, called esterification; then the compound is stable,” Swisa explained.

The team then “started looking at the activities of this compound…and found that this particular compound causes suppression of anxiety and suppression of nausea,” he continued, adding that this could make a huge difference in cancer patients on chemotherapy, as well as patients with IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) or Psoriasis. 

Innovating At 88

That CBD and THC can help with a long list of conditions from inflammation and anxiety, to depression and nausea, has been known for quite some time now.

See also: UNM Study: Cannabis Is Effective In Treating Depression, Improving Mental Health

In fact, Mechoulam was possibly the most significant academic to shed light on the active principles of the cannabis plant back in the 1960s, when his work at the Weizmann Institute led to the discovery of the human endo-cannabinoid system, crowning him the “father of cannabis research.”

But the 88 year-old researcher’s newest discovery presents cannabidiolic acid as a far more potent compound than CBD or THC — with no known negative side effects.

“We badly need new drugs in several diseases and some of the drugs that are available, may be pretty good but they ultimately cause side effects,” he said, referencing most non-natural phama drugs, wich are semi-synthetic at best.

“We have two groups of compounds today that need to have a replacement: these are steroids and opioids. We believe that cannabis carries the ability to introduce replacements to these families.”

An Alternative To Steroids And Opioids

While CBD has been considered an alternative to addictive prescription drugs for several years now, EPM’s patent on the use of cannabidiolic acid is the first to prove that these drugs can essentially be substituted without major changes in their efficiency.

“We compare our compound not only to cannabinoids, but to the existing drugs that are applied today,” Mechoulam explained. “So, for example, in IBD we compared our compounds to two conventional products: one is the prednisone (the steroids) and one is a biological drug. And in both of them, we managed to prove that the activity of our compound is very similar to the common one.”

The researcher is optimistic when it comes to the future.

“I sincerely hope that one day we will have, within the next few years, a cannabidiolic acid derivative on the market in parallel to CBD itself.”

See also: The Tosh Family: Torn By Injustice, United By Love (And Cannabis)

But he also warned of the importance of classifying and regulating drugs correctly for their medical use, in order to avoid unwanted side effects.

“Companies should be careful when they’re taking compounds and claiming therapeutics. They need to do it in accordance with the regulation in order to create consistency in the language…because people confuse recreational use with the medicinal use and aren’t necessarily looking to a specific indication, with specific dosing,” he ended.

https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/y3zbyj/brain-science-is-ignoring-left-handed-people

Brain Science Is Ignoring Left-Handed People

“It’s one of these ‘rules of thumb’ that people learn when they start doing neuroscience, that including left-handed individuals is bad.”

Shayla Love

By Shayla LoveJuly 9, 2020, 9:28am

After being continually rejected for brain research studies, left-handed people are often amazed to find Lyam Bailey, a doctoral student in psychology and neuroscience, who readily accepts them. Most other neuroscientists accept only right-handed participants.

“A lot of [left-handed people] are incredibly frustrated at how few studies they can participate in,” Bailey said, who conducts research at Dalhousie University in Canada.ADVERTISEMENT

About 10 percent of people prefer to use their left hand for everyday activities, like writing, a percentage that’s remained the same for at least tens of thousands of years. (We know this from scientists’ analyses of prehistoric handprint art from the Ice Age.) They even have their own day: August 13 is International Left-Handers Day. Despite their constant presence, lefties are frequently, if not almost always, excluded from neuroscience research.

“It’s one of these ‘rules of thumb’ that people learn when they start doing neuroscience, that including left-handed individuals is bad,” said Emma Karlsson, a postdoctoral researcher in psychology and cognitive neuroscience at Bangor University in Wales.

Shutting out left-handers is an attempt to reduce variations in brain data. In studies that use neuroimaging, like brain scans that capture where the brain is activating, scientists often want subjects that can be compared to one another. That way, they can calculate group averages and come to conclusions about the way the brain functions overall.

Left-handed people’s brains can work slightly differently for certain tasks, like language processing or motor skills, because of a feature of the brain called lateralization.Health

Do You Hug Left or Right?

SHAYLA LOVE01.31.18

The brain has two hemispheres, left and right, and they’re not completely equal in their anatomy or function. For some things, like language, one of the two hemispheres does the bulk of the work. In most right-handed people, the majority of language processing takes place in the left hemisphere of the brain. Left-handed people can be less dependent on the left hemisphere for language—they might use both the left and right side of the brain, or sometimes predominantly the right side.

Left-handed people aren’t just being excluded from research that studies language or movement, the tasks where lefties are expected to be atypical. They can also be barred from participating in any brain imaging studies at all. A study Bailey co-authored from last year found that in over 1,000 papers published in 2017, only 3.2 percent of over 30,000 research subjects were not right-handed.

Along with broader efforts to diversify the subjects scientists include in studies, especially when compiling large datasets that aim to be representative of the whole population, there is a push from researchers who study handedness to question why, and in what cases, we’re still ignoring left-handers.

“It’s been thought that it’s just best to play it safe, be careful and exclude left-handers,” Bailey said. “That kind of mindset has become very deeply ingrained in cognitive neuroscience.”

When trying to figure out how the brain works, we need to account for all the ways a healthy brain can function, Karlsson said. Including left-handed people could actually help us learn more about the brain rather than mess up our efforts—like the ways the left and right side of the brain divide up the work, and the genetics that help to drive the brain’s asymmetries.

Left-handed people may not even have radically different brains for certain tasks. And there may be more variation in both left and right-handed people’s brains than we’re aware of—the whole spectrum of lateral variation won’t be revealed until we include lefties in brain research.

Rumors and myths have persisted about left-handed people for centuries. In 1903, Italian criminologist and doctor Cesare Lombroso wrote that “criminals are more often left-handed than honest men, and lunatics are more sensitively left-sided than either of the other two.”ADVERTISEMENT

A now-discredited study from the 1990s found that left-handed people don’t live as long as right-handed ones. A Japanese psychiatrist, in his book The World of Left-Handerswrote about women who were afraid their husbands would divorce them if they were left-handed. There have been suggestions that left-handed people are more creative, and intelligent, or conversely, depressed, or prone to mental illness, like schizophrenia.


Watch more from VICE:What Binge Watching Does To Your Brain


Yet the most measurable difference in left-handed people isn’t their personalities, but their brain lateralization—and that may be less drastic than previously believed. “The left-handers tend to have a somewhat different lateralization from right-handed, but it’s not by far as extreme as we once thought,” said Roel Willems, a a senior researcher at the Centre for Language Studies and Donders Institute for Brain Cognition and Behaviour, in the Netherlands. “It’s not that everything is swapped in left-handers.”

Willems said that the border neuroscientists have created between right and left-handedness may be more penetrable than we think; thinking of handedness as just right or left may not be accurate.

When language researchers leave out left-handed people, it’s to avoid including people that process language in different parts of the brain. But actually, most right- and left-handed people process language with their left hemisphere; almost all left-handed people also have their language capacities mostly on the left side of their brain, just like right-handed people do.ADVERTISEMENT

What is different is the percentage of left and right handers who process language in the right side of the brain. In right-handed people about 95 percent use the left hemisphere for language; in left handers it drops to about 70 percent. 15 percent of left handers use both of their hemispheres for language, while 15 percent use the right hemisphere instead.

When studies exclude left-handed people, they often do so based on a questionnaire that asks if a person is right or left-handed—not a measurement of their performance with either hand, or asking about a variety of activities like writing, drawing, combing your hair, eating, and more.

Using a questionnaire to determine handedness may also not find people who were forced to switch from their left to right hand as a child. Until fairly recently, it wasn’t unheard of for parents or teachers to forcibly switch left-handed leaning children to use their right hands instead. In a study from Taiwan from 2007, 59 percent of a sample of over 200 students had been forced to convert to using their right hands.

study in Germany from 2010 scanned the brains of adults who had been forced to switch to writing with their right hands. If you compared their brain activity to left-handers, they looked more like right-handed people. But if you compared them to right-handed people, they more closely resembled left-handed people.

“Here we see a very interesting case: that training cannot completely overrule your natural inclination to do more with your left hand,” Willems said. “There is a very intricate mix here between nature and nurture. If you just throw everybody who writes with the left hand together in one group, you’re mixing up these people.”

Willems thinks it makes more sense to say that there is a group of people who are born right or left-handed. And then, there is a group of people who are not born with a preference, but who choose to use the right or left hand more—the right hand may be chosen more because that’s the more common choice and our world is set up for right-handed people.

In the end, it means that even within a sample of self-reported right-handed people, it’s likely that someone has atypical laterality of brain function. “By completely excluding left handers you are not dodging the possibility that somebody might have this characteristic that you’re trying to avoid,” Bailey said.

Instead, we’re just losing the knowledge of where the boundaries of brain organization are—how many ways can a brain organize itself?

“How much variation can you have within the brain, and how plastic is the brain?” Karlsson said. “We lose this idea of individual differences. And I think that’s really important.”

Left-handedness is just one example of how the diversity of a scientist’s sample in research can change the results, and lead to different conclusions about how the brain and body work; what’s “normal” or “typical.”Health

When studies do include left-handed people, they can learn new things about the brain that we didn’t know before. By including left-handed people intentionally in their work, Willems and his colleagues found that left- and right-handed people have different lateralization of the region of the brain that responds to faces.

An area in the back of the brain, referred to as the fusiform face area, activates when we see other faces. In right-handed people, it’s mostly active on the right side of the brain. In their sample of left-handed people, the brain activation was more evenly distributed through the right and left side.

This may seem minor, but in many textbooks, the right lateralization of the face response was considered to be “inborn,” Willems said. “The story was that evolutionarily, we have a dedicated part of the brain specifically to faces because they are so important for our survival. That may be true, but in our work, we showed that the brain can also do this very well if it divides the work across the two hemispheres. Following quite a different route, you can get to similar levels of expertise.”

Left-handed people could be processing other information differently too—upending other “facts” about the brain that we hold true right now.

“We don’t know what we don’t know,” Bailey said. “It might be the case that left-handers are more likely to exhibit differences in some characteristics, maybe with respect to memory or attention or brain structure. But we don’t know that because they’re not being included in the research.”Health

Bailey also thinks that there is another ethical consideration here, which is that left-handed people don’t have access to the benefits of participating in research. Often, research subjects are college students, and they are paid for their time, or offered course credits. If they are science majors, they get to see, firsthand, how a study is run—it’s an educational opportunity.

“When you have an entire field that is excluding left-handers,” Bailey said, “you’re depriving 10 percent of the population of real, tangible benefits that their peers have free access to.”

Thinking about research diversity doesn’t end at left-handers; it starts there. It’s a concern that’s been steadily increasing in psychology and neuroscience: that the typical research subject is WEIRD, an acronym that means just the opposite—that they’re Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic.

“A lot of the knowledge that we have about how the brain works or psychological phenomenon comes from a surprisingly homogeneous sample of people,” Willems said. “Honestly, things like socioeconomic class and ethnicity are probably more important than hand preference.”

Studies on how socioeconomic factors affect language processing have found that they can subtly influence how spoken sentences are perceived. That hasn’t led us to exclude certain socioeconomic statuses—it’s instead led to curiosity about which social factors can influence brain function.

“I would argue that handedness should be viewed similarly,” Bailey said, noting that including left-handed people will be most urgently required in studies that are building large databases that are intended to be representative of the population at large. “It can have an impact on some functions of the brain, not all. But that should prompt further inquiry into how it affects other cognitive functions.”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidprosser/2020/07/10/five-of-the-leading-british-ai-companies-revealed/#3302673b1277


Five Of The Leading British AI Companies Revealed

David ProsserContributorEntrepreneurs

Amid the Covid-19 gloom, many cutting-edge technology companies have quietly been getting on with raising finance – with artificial intelligence emerging as a particular focus for investors. Last month, for example, London-based Temporall raised £1m of seed investment to continue developing its AI- and analytics-based workplace insights platform. It was just the latest in a string of AI businesses to successfully raise finance in recent months despite the uncertainties of the pandemic.

That extends a trend seen last year. In September, a report from TechNation and Crunchbase revealed that UK AI investment reached a record level of $1bn in the first half of 2019, surpassing the total amount of new finance raised during the whole of the previous year.

The UK’s AI industry has been boosted by a supportive public sector environment: the UK government is leading the way on AI investment in Europe and has become the third biggest spender on AI in the world. In the private sector, meanwhile, many British companies offer world-leading technologies. Take just five of the most innovative AI start-ups in the UK:

Synthesized

Founded in 2017, by Dr Nicolai Baldin, a machine-learning researcher based at the University of Cambridge, Synthesized has created an all-in-one data provisioning and preparation platform that is underpinned by AI. 

In just 10 minutes, its technology can generate a representative synthetic dataset incorporating millions of records, helping an organisation to share insights safely and efficiently while automatically complying with data regulations. In March, Synthesized raised $2.8m in funding with the aim of doubling the number of its employees in London and accelerating the company’s rapid expansion. Most Popular In: Entrepreneurs

Onfido

With more than $180m in funding, Onfido is on a mission to help businesses verify people’s identities. Founded in 2012, it uses machine learning and AI technologies, including face detection and character recognition, to verify documents such as passports and ID cards, and to help companies with fraud prevention. 

Onfido is headquartered in London and now employs more than 400 employees across seven offices worldwide. In 2019 the company had over 1,500 customers including Revolut, Monzo and Zipcar. 

Benevolent AI

Aiming disrupt the pharmaceutical sector, Benevolent AI’s goal is to find medicines for diseases that have no treatment. Benevolent AI applies AI and machine learning tools together with other cutting-edge technologies to try to reinvent the ways drugs are discovered and developed.

The business was founded in 2013 and has raised almost $300m in funding. Its software reduces drug development costs, decreases failure rates and increases the speed at which medicines are generated. Right now, it is focusing on searching for treatments for Covid-19.

Plum Fintech

Plum is an AI assistant that helps people manage their money and increase their savings. It uses a mix of AI and behavioural science to help users change the way they engage with their finances – for example, it points out savings they can afford by analysing their bank transactions. 

Plum also allows its users to invest the money saved, as well as to easily switch household suppliers to secure better deals – the average customer can save roughly £230 a year on regular bills it claims. 

Poly AI

After meeting at the Machine Intelligence Lab at the University of Cambridge, Nikola Mrkšić, Pei-Hao Su and Tsung-Hsien Wen – a group of “conversational AI” experts – started Poly AI. CEO Mrkšić was previously the first engineer at Apple-acquired VocalIQ, which became an essential part of Siri. 

Poly AI helps contact centres scale. The company’s technology not only understands customers’ queries, but also addresses them in a conversational way, either via voice, email or messaging. The company doesn’t position itself as a replacement to human contact centre agents, but as an enhancement that works alongside them. Poly AI has secured $12m in funding to date and works as a team of seven out of its London headquarters.

https://www.zdnet.com/article/elon-musk-update-to-neuralink-computer-brain-tech-is-coming-soon/

Elon Musk: Update to Neuralink computer-brain tech is coming soon

“Dire brain injuries” are Neuralink’s first priority, says Elon Musk.

Liam Tung

By Liam Tung | July 10, 2020 — 11:59 GMT (04:59 PDT) | Topic: Artificial Intelligence

Elon Musk: Super thin “threads” inserted in the brain will let us monitor cell activity WATCH NOW

Elon Musk has said an update on the progress of his Neuralink implant devices, which connects a computer directly in to the brain, is coming next month. 

Neuralink aims to develop ultra-high bandwidth brain-computer interfaces, and in a tweet Musk said 28 August will see the first update to Neuralink since announcing the brain-machine interface project in 2017. 

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

When Musk revealed Neuralink, he hyped the technology as an answer to the threat of artificial intelligence, which he said presented an “existential risk” to humans. 

Last year, the company shed some light on what it’s working on after updating its sparse website with a few details about job vacancies

Musk thinks his direct brain-to-machine interface — or “neural lace” — would help humans avoid becoming “house cats” to artificial intelligence. Humans, like computers, could be updated with additional intelligence in the future. But in the short term, he thinks Neuralink technology can help treat conditions such as epilepsy, depression and spinal injuries.   

After promoting the August 28 update on Twitter, he’s since answered some questions about what it might entail.

Emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) projects are well underway but concerns remain for CXOs regarding these initiatives. To better understand how enterprises manage their AI/ML projects, Tech Pro…Research provided by TechRepublic Premium

“If you can’t beat em, join em,” he tweeted cryptically yesterday in reference to Neuralink’s mission statement. 

“AI symbiosis while u wait,” he added. 

But today, he clarified that Neuralink’s first target is medical assistance: “helping with dire brain injuries is our first priority,” he wrote

SEE: Tesla’s Elon Musk: Our fully autonomous cars are now ‘very close’

He also gave his thoughts on whether Neuralink technology could be used to rewire parts of the brain responsible for causing addiction or depression. 

“For sure. This is both great & terrifying. Everything we’ve ever sensed or thought has been electrical signals. The early universe was just a soup of quarks & leptons. How did a very small piece of the Universe start to think of itself as sentient?” wrote Musk

Last year, Musk said 2020 would be the year Neuralink would conduct tests with human subjects after proclaiming that “a monkey has been able to control a computer with his brain”. 

Neuralink’s technology works by drilling small holes into the brain and inserting thread-like electrodes that avoid blood vessels. As with Tesla’s push into Level 5 fully autonomous driving, which he stresses depends on regulatory approval, Musk says gaining approval from the US Food and Drug Administration “is quite difficult”.

https://robbreport.com/gear/personal-technology/sonys-reon-pocket-air-conditioner-now-available-2934592/


Sony’s Wearable Air Conditioner Is Here to Keep You Cool No Matter How Hot It Is

It can turn into a mini heater come wintertime, too.

BY RACHEL CORMACK ON JULY 10, 2020

Sony Reon PocketSony

If the summer sun is getting under your skin, Sony may have just the solution. The Japanese tech titan has just released a wearable AC that promises to keep you at a cool 73 degrees.

First teased in July 2019, the Reon Pocket was originally planned for a release that coincided with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. With the games off the table, Sony has made the device available on its webstore for roughly $120 (¥13,000) a pop.

The mini AC unit was developed through Sony’s startup acceleration program and uses the Peltier effect to create a temperature differential across the two sides of the device. Basically, it increases the temp on one side and decreases it on the other in order to cool your body. It can reportedly drop your temperature by 23 degrees Fahrenheit on hot days or raise it 14 degrees Fahrenheit in colder situations. That’s right, the multipurpose device can turn into a mini heater come wintertime, too.Sony's new wearable air conditioner the Reon Pocket

Courtesy of Sony

The svelte, all-white design is about the size of a card case and weighs just shy of 3 ounces. It fits neatly inside a special pocket of a matching undershirt that’s sold separately in small, medium and large for $20 (¥1,800). If the the design seems a little bulky to wear all day, it might just be worth it if it keeps you from sweating through your shirt.

Thanks to Bluetooth connectivity, the aircon is compatible with either iOS or Android. The user can choose to manually control the temperature via an app or set the device to automatic mode. Switch to the latter and it will regulate your temperature based on your activity, which is captured by built-in motion sensors. This ensures you’ll stay at the perfect temperature no matter the situation. The device has a battery life of 90 minutes and can fully recharge in two hours via the USB-c port.

There is, of course, a risk that the Reon Pocket could become just another defunct novelty gadget in your junk drawer, but since it’s only a hundred smackers, it may be worth the risk.