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Novel Method to Let Gamers Communicate Using Their Minds

The lights’ different flashing patterns trigger unique types of activity in the brain, which the caps can pick up

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FILE - Gamers play Minecraft at the Paris Games Week (PGW), a trade fair for video games in Paris, France. VOA

Imagine playing video games together with your friends seated at different places while communicating only with your minds. Researchers from University of Washington including one of Indian-origin have developed a method just to do that, brining telepathic communication a step closer to reality.

In the study, published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports, the researchers showed that three people can play a Tetris-like game using a brain-to-brain interface.

This is the first demonstration of two things — a brain-to-brain network of more than two people, and a person being able to both receive and send information to others using only their brain.

“We wanted to know if a group of people could collaborate using only their brains. That’s how we came up with the idea of BrainNet: where two people help a third person solve a task,” said corresponding author Rajesh Rao.

As in Tetris, the game shows a block at the top of the screen and a line that needs to be completed at the bottom.

Two people, the Senders, can see both the block and the line but can’t control the game.

The third person, the Receiver, can see only the block but can tell the game whether to rotate the block to successfully complete the line.

Each Sender decides whether the block needs to be rotated and then passes that information from their brain, through the Internet and to the brain of the Receiver.

Then the Receiver processes that information and sends a command — to rotate or not rotate the block — to the game directly from their brain, hopefully completing and clearing the line.

Games of change festival
New video games are increasingly seeking to target issues of social injustice in a user-friendly interface . VOA

The team asked five groups of participants to play 16 rounds of the game. For each group, all three participants were in different rooms and couldn’t see, hear or speak to one another.

The Senders each could see the game displayed on a computer screen. The screen also showed the word “Yes” on one side and the word “No” on the other side.

Beneath the “Yes” option, an LED flashed 17 times per second. Beneath the “No” option, an LED flashed 15 times a second.

“Once the Sender makes a decision about whether to rotate the block, they send ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to the Receiver’s brain by concentrating on the corresponding light,” said first author Linxing Preston Jiang.

The Senders wore electroencephalography caps that picked up electrical activity in their brains.

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The lights’ different flashing patterns trigger unique types of activity in the brain, which the caps can pick up.

So, as the Senders stared at the light for their corresponding selection, the cap picked up those signals, and the computer provided real-time feedback by displaying a cursor on the screen that moved toward their desired choice.

The selections were then translated into a “Yes” or “No” answer that could be sent over the Internet to the Receiver.

“To deliver the message to the Receiver, we used a cable that ends with a wand that looks like a tiny racket behind the Receiver’s head. This coil stimulates the part of the brain that translates signals from the eyes,” said co-author Andrea Stocco. (IANS)

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Researchers: Video Games can Help Children Evaluate, Express and Manage Emotions

Emotional intelligence can be better explained when there are emotions involved from both sides

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Video games, Children, Emotions
Video games may improve the expression of emotions, but awareness and coping strategies can't be solely understood by games. PIxabay

While it’s commonly believed that video games are harmful for children, researchers have found that it can help them evaluate, express and manage emotions when used as part of an emotional intelligence training programme.

“Video games may improve the expression of emotions, but awareness and coping strategies can’t be solely understood by games. Emotional intelligence can be better explained when there are emotions involved from both sides,” Manish Jain, Consultant at BLK Super Speciality Hospital, Delhi, told IANS.

According to the study published in the Games for Health Journal, researchers from the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Italy developed an emotional intelligence training programme that integrated video games as experience-based learning tools.

The researchers created EmotivaMente, a video game, to enhance emotional intelligence among adolescents, perhaps the group that could benefit the most. They analysed 121 adolescents who participated in eight sessions.

Video games, Children, Emotions
While it’s commonly believed that video games are harmful for children, researchers have found that it can help them evaluate. Pixabay

“Games for health have been designed to address an increasing variety of issues. A relatively new health issue is emotional intelligence, which has implications for various health problems, including coping with stress,” said Tom Baranowski, Professor at the Baylor College of Medicine in the US.

The preliminary evaluation indicated that video games enhanced the students’ evaluation and expression of emotions.

But some experts believe outdoor activities should be given more importance to develop emotional intelligence, which includes awareness of emotions, managing emotions effectively and maintaining relationships, in children.

“In the modern day where interaction is increasingly becoming online and more time is spent indoors, the right way to build emotional intelligence is people-to-people interactions and connecting, spending quality time with peers and family, learning through experiences and feedback,” Samir Parikh, Consultant Psychiatrist and Director at Fortis Mental Health Programme in Delhi, told IANS.

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“Video games are not the most prudent way to enhance emotional skills. Young people should have a well-balanced life with adequate outdoor activities and investment of time and energy in building relationships by working on communication and person-to-person connect,” Parikh said.

Sagar Lavania, Head of Department, Psychiatry and Mental Health, Nayati Medicity, Mathura, believes “human and one-on-one interactions are ideal ways to increase emotional intelligence, especially among adolescents, and can never be substituted by alternative methods”.

“However, if newer techniques are coming up, it needs to be thoroughly researched and supervised, keeping in mind the vulnerability of teenagers,” he remarked. (IANS)