Monday, January 24, 2011

Our Game =)



The game we will have these main features;

- The main aim of the game will be feeding the animals (the black ones in the Figure), which are the same kind and identical (size and color are the same) and continuously moving, in the screen. After feeding the animals there will be no change in the appearances of the animals. So the user should concentrate on which animal did he/she feed before, which he/she didn’t.
- The number of fodder is equal to the number of animals on the screen. The user should feed each animal only once. If not, the user has time punishment (the time, which begins from 0 and counts from the beginning of the level, will increase suddenly).
- The animals can have different speed and move features. For example, some of them  movequickly on the screen, some of them are slow and moves by jumping.
- According to the value in the Beta brainwave bar, we call it “concentration-meter”, the difficulty of the next level will be decided. For example, if the user’s concentration level is very high during a level, in the next level the number of animals to feed will more rapidly increase.
- The main aim of the game is feeding the moving animals by clicking over each of them and keep this feeding time as short as possible, which means keeping the concentration state of the user as long as possible.
The main data objects in the BCES related to the game are;

Brainwaves : This data object has a name, representation (density), unit and range attributes. This data object can be inherited as Delta, Theta, Alpha and Beta brainwaves. 

Game Levels : This data object has a name, representation, quantity and parameters(such as the number of animals, the movement type of them, time to finish the level..) attributes.


  • Game Level Completion Time : This sub-data object has range and quantity attributes. When the user consumes all the fodder, time will stop for that level. As mentioned previously, the time starts counting from zero for every second and if the user feed the animals that he has fed previously more seconds will be added to the current time. For example while counting seconds one by one, if this situation occurs, an extra 5 seconds will added to the time variable. If the time will be out of the previously decided range, for example the user are not feeding the animals for a long time during the training, then level will end and next level will be decided considering this lack of concentration stage.
  • Game Level Score : This sub-data object has range and quantity attributes. While feeding the animals that has not been fed before, an +10 points will be added to the score variable. Feeding wrong animal that has been fed before will not contribute to the score.

User Data : This data object has a name, representation(including age and password variables) and 
parameters(User Rank, User Concentration Experience) attributes.

  •  User Concentration Experience : This sub-data object has range and quantity attributes. At the end of each level, the user will gain concentration experience according to the time that the user completes each level and score of previous level variables.

  •  User Rank  : This sub-data object has only a name, quantity and range. And after this concentration experiences reached the decided upper bounds, the rank of the user will increase one by one. In other words, if the user’s rank value is high then this means that this user has high ability of being in concentration state for long time. In this situation, this high ranked user has completed the levels in shorter time and got more scores in each played level by being concentrated during these levels not to make mistakes.

The process between brainwave and game level runs as in the following.
-In a game level;

  • After feeding each animal on the screen, 3 seconds will pass to enable the animals change their position and during this time interval the user can not feed the animals and should wait and observe the animals to feed. 

  • The concentration-meter will show the amount of Beta Brainwaves of the user. This information will come from the BCID and some mentioned transformations following to it. 

  •  While playing the game, according to the moving number of animals in the screen, the user will be expected to concentrate on the level. Meanwhile, the value in concentration-meter will change naturally. Because human cannot be fully focused in  what he is doing all the time.

  • While feeding the  animals (correct or wrong), the time and score will be  changing continuously. These time and score features of the levels makes the application more resembled to the usual computer games.

  • When the concentration-meter reach the top limit, the color of the  remaining unfed animals will be lightened for one second. This is an award for the concentrated users. All the values of the Beta brainwaves during time of the level will be represented as graphically (the descents and rises) in the analysis tab and be kept in the user database for long-term feedback.

- Deciding next level;

  •  The difficulty stage of the next level will be calculated according to the cumulative average of the concentration-meter during the completion time of the previous level. Because the level of the Beta brainwaves in the concentration-meter is changing all the time.

  • There will be a constant incrementation in the number of animals for the next level(for example 2 animal more), but by taking into consideration of the cumulative average of concentration state of the user, this incrementation will be additionally more.(instead of 2 animal, increase 5 animal)

  • According to the completion time of previous level, the user will gain concentration experience. If this experience is enough to jump to next rank, the rank of the user will be increased by one. So the completion time and concentration experience are inversely correlated.

We Have Got Our Epoc! =)

and we downloaded sdk's and get the API from Minder. We finally tried this! =) All the trainings and game demos within 5 hours!

http://www.ted.com/talks/tan_le_a_headset_that_reads_your_brainwaves.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6arDJOtCJY&feature=player_embedded

Thanks to Minder :D

Brainwave Based Concentration Enhancing Software : BCES

The lack of concentration is one of the modern life issues and it is shown that it can be overcome by some daily training and basic rehabilitation. Moreover, people can always develop their level of concentration even if that level is not a problem for them.  An increased and manageable concentration skill can be used to enhance the efficiency of human life. The main purpose of the BCES project is to create reliable concentration enhancement software using the neurofeedback technology. The software follows and records the brain activities of the user for a long period and tries to increase the user’s concentration values efficiently. The two main components of the software, small but well designed concentration games and the artificial intelligent system with high planning capabilities that manage the game parameters, will provide an uncomplicated and 
entertaining training experience to the user.


BCES is system which lets the users interact with their brains and see the role of their brains in thinking process and effect of it over acting with these thoughts. The main functionality of the BCES is to keep the user in a concentration state. This functionality will be established by cognitive games that we will design. In these games the user will  be expected to handle with some tasks which require different concentration levels. According to the analyzed brainwave distribution of the user as delta, theta, alpha and beta, the parameters of game levels will be change accordingly to make the user be more focused on these tasks. The reason that we will observe the change in concentration of the user via computer games is the reality that computer games can easily take the attention of the user and with attractive features can easily make the players focused itself for 
long times. So we thought that games can be used to make users concentrated for a period of time to analyze the behaviour of brainwaves during game play. The BCID will help out in this brainwaves extraction process.
In BCES, our goal is to try to maximize the duration of concentration state of the user as indicated above. In the game industry, there are many cognitive games that focus on developing concentration of the players in a specific given time. For example, a Nintendo DS game, Brain Age, is asking mathematic calculations to the player and the time is counted. The littleness of the time is the key to get more score.

Similar to these kinds of games, we will try to take the attention of the user and to make him/her be concentrated. So, in the project the main factor that affects the product and its requirements are the brainwaves of the user and the precisions of the transformation of the brainwaves from the BCID. Because if we can not extract the brainwave information after applying same functions, the raw brainwave information will be useless for the project and the rest of the operations in the software will be meaningless. So, we will plan to get the brainwave information more accurately as possible as we can.

System Overview


In BCES, the whole system is composed of by two main parts. One of them is hardware, the other one is software. At the fist stage, the user log in the system and to get the brainwaves of the user we need to have a Brain Computer Interface Device which has been provided by the company. In the process, after that we extract the brainwaves by the help of this device, by analyzing the features of different brainwaves (delta, alpha, theta, beta), the user will be asked to play the game application that we will develop. While monitoring the brainwaves, through the levels of the game, user will be wanted to concentrate very well to complete the level. In this process we expect to see the changes in the brainwaves of the user in an effective way. As mentioned above, the aim is to increase the Alpha and Beta brainwaves which are observed at the concentration state. Because the concentration of the user can be varied according to his gender, age, 
psychology and the environment, we will take these factors into account and will create a game in a way of getting attention and focusing concentration of the user much more easily and quickly. Moreover, to detect the brainwaves by the device correctly and to treat the user accordingly, there will be a continuous literature survey in the whole process. The running mechanism of the software and so the game will be explained in the following sections.The functionality of BCES is to show the brain activities of the users and changing the features of the applications accordingly during process. So the main benefit of the system is to help the user 
to increase the general concentration, attention and memory level of him. If the user has a lack of concentration then by our system, this situation will be handled. Because we will create the game levels by the help of an AI to decide whether the user is in upper or lower concentration and memory level. The game seems to be more academic but there will be components added to the game to make the game similar to the usual and real “computer games”. So there will be entertainment and amusement in the game to take the attention of the user more easily. Moreover, this project can be applied for other applications rather than only game. For example an music player application that plays music which of genre is decided according to the mood of the user. Because the frequencies of brainwaves are distributed according to mood of the user 
(including concentration), the AI part can be designed for different purposes like this. For example, if the user is unhappy than the player will play funny and cheering musics from the pre-defined database. The examples of these applications are present and used.


Some Keys In Our Project

  • Focusing can be learned.
  • As focusing state duration is increased, the number of details that are noticed also increases.
  • To learn to notice the details more increases focusing state,concentration.
  • To be noticed, the first thing to do is to get attraction.



Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)


Is an illness to notice everything around but not to filter them. So the first rule to learn focusing is to improve our attention filtering systems. According to this knowledge we have decided that our game will have distracting components to trigger the need for filtering.


Broad and Narrow Focus
A baseball player is an example for attention changing from narrow to broad.
When wating for event occuring, human is proned to change his attention from broad to narrow.
To increase the time staying at narrow attention state increases the concentration.
So, a good game should arrange the frequency of expecting results for the user to increase the time duration staying in narrow attention state.




Game Examples:


Asymmetric dynamic games like bowling ( narrow - broad alteration)
MultiTask for filtering attention http://www.kongregate.com/games/IcyLime/multitask


For more brain training games :
http://www.lumosity.com/brain-games
http://www.brainage.com/launch/index.jsp

   

Concentration Enhancing Software That was Made

  • Brain Train’s Mental PowerGym

Brain Train's Mental Power Gym is a set of 3 cognitive training computer programs for children and adults, who deal with ADD/ADHD. learning difficulties, age-related cognitive decline, mental fog, schizophrenia, stroke, brain injury, and after-effects of anesthesia and chemotherapy. For ages 5 to adult. 3 computer programs are included in the Mental Power Gym:
    • Captain's Log at Home 
    • SoundSmart 
    • SmartDriver 


Captain's Log contains 35 different brain training programs which train over 20 cognitive skills such as concentration & attention span, memory, reasoning, auditory skills, visual skills, hand-eye coordination, impulse control and processing speed - basic skills needed for learning and for success in life. Several levels of difficulty.


SoundSmart is a set of 11 entertaining, multi-level talking Bingo computer games for kindergarten through fourth grade capabilities. This program can be helpful for older age levels when there are cognitive difficulties. It's designed to improve listening skills, following directions, phonemic awareness, working memory, mental processing speed, and impulse control. Includes: Sound Discrimination Coach, Attention Coach and Math & Memory Coach.


SmartDriver is a stimulating and entertaining driving computer game designed for ages 5 through adult. To win the game, you must drive your car successfully through progressively more difficult roads and driving situations. SmartDriver trains visual attention, visual tracking, & self-control using 90 progressive levels of difficulty. 


  • Play Attention, the Revolutionary Training Software System to Help with Brain Training and Attention Learning!

Play Attention is a patented, dynamic integrated learning system built on NASA-proven technology that allows you to train your brain to gain focus, improve concentration, and pay attention. Play Attention games are all 3 dimensional or 3D. This enriches the games without making them over-stimulating. Time on-task features a forklift and a crane that you can drive by mind alone. Visual Tracking uses light sequencing similar to what athletes use to create faster reflexes. 

Improving Factors On Brainwaves

1. Improve By Wave Binaural Beats




Binaural beats are sounds designed to alter the brains frequency the brain is operating at. Binaural beats could help induce relaxation, creativity and other desirable mental states.
  • Effects of Music on the Brain
Research  has  found  that  the  silence  between  two  musical notes  triggers  the  brain  cells  and  neurons,  which  are responsible  for  the  development  of  sharp  memory.  Flute music  ,  and  instruments  like  santoor  and  sarod  are recommended  for  the  enhancement  of concentration and memory. We  achieve  relaxed concentration  or  lucid  awareness when alpha waves, between 8 and 13 hertz, are present Music with about  60  heats  per  minute–particularly  that  of  Mozart, Brahms, and Bach–shifts  the brain’s activity  from beta  to  the higher­awareness alpha waves. It’s called the Mozart Effect.
  • Brain Wave Entrainment Software(Brain Sound Studio )



Brain Sound Studio (BSS) is a revolutionary new software application which embeds brainwave entrainment into almost any sound or music file of your choice! Brain Sound Studio (BSS) takes any sound of your choosing ­ such as an MP3 or WAV file ­ and uses the existing sound as the carrier wave for brainwave entrainment! BSS passes the sound through a series of complex scientific filters, subtly changing it to have 
dramatic effects on the brain.


2. Improve By Attention Training
  • “Brain Fitness in Older Adults” Researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center found that mental work­out programs(crossword puzzles,Sudoku..) can change brain activity, giving older adults a greater ability to block distractions and improve concentration. As people age, their brains change . One example, according to Paul Laurienti, M.D., Ph.D. and lead study researcher, is that older adults experience changes in how they perceive information the information their eyes and ears gather from the environment. This is called sensory integration a tendency to  ―combine information from different senses and older adults experience it  ―more readily than younger adults. Sensory integration can make it harder to block out distracting sights and sounds when you are trying to focus on a task.

  • Meditation : Electrical brain waves suggest  that  mental  activity during  meditation  is  wakeful  and  relaxed.  During meditation,  theta  waves  were  most  abundant  in  the frontal and middle parts of the brain. By reducing the speed  of  the  electrical  patterns  in  your brain,  you can  decrease  stress  and  even  boost  your  immune system. It allows  experience a deeper connection with your subconscious.

3. Improve By Non-Drug Natural Approach
  •  Brain uses approximately 20 percent of the oxygen in the body. Water improve mental alertness.
  •  Ginkgo biloba leaf
  •  Vitamin A (Beta­carotene and cartenoids) and others
  •  Herbal remedy (Focus Formula)

Are You Concentrated?


What is Concentration?


Concentration has been defined as "the ability to direct one's thinking in whatever direction one would intend".

We all have the ability to concentrate some of the time. But at other times our thoughts are scattered, and our minds race from one thing to another. To deal with such times, we need to learn and practice concentration skills and strategies. To concentrate, we have to learn a skill, and as with any skill this means practice repeated day after day until we achieve enough improvement to feel that we can concentrate when we need to.
Our ability to concentrate depends on
  • commitment
  • enthusiasm for the task
  • skill at doing the task
  • our emotional and physical state
  • our psychological state
  • our environment

Commitment

We need to make a personal commitment to put in the effort needed to do the task in the way which we realistically plan to do it. If we just play at it in a half-hearted manner then it is much more difficult to take the task and ourselves seriously.

Enthusiasm

If we are interested in the task and enjoy doing it, then we find it easy to motivate ourselves to start. Once started, our feelings of involvement in the activity keep us going - we want to do it.



Skill

Knowing how to do something gives confidence that our efforts will be successful, so we don't have to deal with anxiety about will this work or not. Anxiety tends to impair concentration.

Our emotional & physical state

When we are in good physical condition - i.e. feeling rested, relaxed and comfortable - and our emotions are calm and benevolent, then we tend to be positive about things. This in turn raises self-esteem, which makes us more able to concentrate, if only because we don't have to worry about how awful we are or life is.

Our psychological state

For example, if we are in an obsessional or distracted state our thoughts are pre-occupied, leaving little mental space to think about anything else.

Environment

It is much more difficult to concentrate if our surroundings keep intruding on our awareness, perhaps because it is noisy, too hot or too cold, the furniture is uncomfortable or the people around us are stressing out.




Expanding your concentration span
People sometimes refer to a concentration span : this is the time we can concentrate on a specific task before our thoughts wander. In learning concentration skills, we aim to extend our concentration span - bearing in mind that we will have a different span for different tasks. It cannot be expanded to infinity! Most people find their level for most tasks round about an hour, but for some people and some tasks it will just be a few minutes, while for others it might be two or three hours.
The main barriers to concentrating are boredom, anxiety and day-dreaming. Thus in improving our concentration skills we need to counteract these barriers. The following three skills are basic to concentration: if you want to improve your concentration, start by practising them. They will be followed by further strategies which will allow you to build onto the basic skills.

1. STOP!!!

This sounds very simple, but it works. When you notice your thoughts wandering, say to yourself STOP and then gently bring your attention back to where you want it to be. Each time it wanders bring it back. To begin with, this could be several times a minute. But each time, say STOP and then re-focus. Don't waste energy trying to keep thoughts out of your mind (forbidden thoughts attract like a magnet!), just put the effort into STOP and re-focus.
To begin with you will do this hundreds of times a week. But you will find that the period of time between your straying thoughts gets a little longer each day, so be patient and keep at it.

2. Attending

This is about maintaining concentration and not giving in to distractions. It could be described as a sort of tunnel-vision, or as being focused: you keep your concentration on what is in front of you. If you are distracted, use the STOP technique to regain concentration. You can practice attending in many situations:
  • eg. in a lecture, if people move or cough, ignore them, don't look at them, actively exclude them from the link or tunnel formed between you and the lecturer.
  • eg. in a social situation, keep your attention solely on one person - what they say, how they look etc. - and ignore what is going on round about.

3. Worry time

Set aside one or more specific periods in the day when you are allowed to worry. It can help to set them just before something that you know you will do, to ensure that you stop worrying on time - e.g. before a favourite TV programme, or a meal-time. Whenever an anxiety or distracting thought enters your mind during the day, banish it until your next worry time, and re-focus on to what you are supposed to be doing. Some people find it helpful to write down the banished thought: it is easier to banish a thought if you are sure you won't have forgotten it when you get to your worry time. It is important that you keep your worry time(s), and make yourself worry for the full time. If you find that you can't fill the time available, then make a conscious decision to reduce it.
You may notice, particularly if you keep a list, that certain things keep reappearing: this is a fairly clear indication that you need to do something about them.

4. Active Learning

Everyone has their own distinct learning style. Some learn by reading and then asking themselves questions, others learn by making condensed notes and memorising them, others learn by the associations they make to the material, and yet others retain a pictorial image of the material. Once you know your learning style, organise the material to suit it: if you don't, learning will be more of a struggle than it need be and your concentration will suffer. Having your own learning style involves having your own internal 'language': briefly, this means the words you use to translate and understand the material so that it has meaning for you. If you don't know how you learn best, try to analyse your experience either with someone who knows how you work, or with someone with expertise in this area.

Other things that can help

  • once you know what your concentration span is for a specific activity, decide whether it is acceptable or whether you need to train yourself to expand it - e.g. a listening concentration span of 10 minutes and a lecture of 50 minutes is a mismatch! To expand your concentration span, just try to keep focused for a little longer each time by using STOP! and Attending. Practice with something that doesn't matter in terms of the task: you could expand your lecture concentration span by practising listening to the news on the radio.
  • in between periods of concentration, do things to change your physical and mental activity. You could move around to boost your circulation if you have been sitting, or you could think about something completely different - and fun - to give your brain a new focus.
  • give yourself incentives and rewards appropriate to the level of concentration you have had to maintain. Quite often they can be linked to the things that usually distract you. If you dream of sitting out in the sun when you are in a library trying to study, make your reward a period of sun-worship (with the appropriate sun-screen cream).
  • be 'active' in mental activity! Use a hierarchy of questions to help you focus when reading reference material or listening to a lecture, rather than passively reading through it or listening and hoping that something will stick - and then write brief notes about the answers to your questions. Ask yourself how you will use the material, where it fits into what you already know, what new questions it triggers.
  • ensure that your environment aids concentration - reduce distractions but don't be so comfortable that you nod off.
  • do tasks that need most concentration at times when you are mentally and physically fresh: concentration is harder to maintain when you are tired. This means you need to know the times of day when you work best: people vary as to when is their best time.
  • experiment and see whether working with another person helps you keep focused on the task. It can often refresh interest in the subject by sparking off new trains of thought which then re-involve you in the task.
  • check if you feel stuck whether the problem is one of poor concentration rather than lack of the necessary knowledge or understanding - and if its the latter, do something about it.
  • don't look for an easy answer in stimulants such as caffeine. They only have a short-term effect of making you feel alert, and too much or too long an exposure can have serious effects on your physical and mental health.

Combating specific problems with concentration

1. When you have been concentrating well but your brain now feels saturated.

Take a short break and then recharge your mental batteries by reviewing what you have done so far, considering whether it might help to switch to a new topic now. If you feel too tired to restart after a short break, review what you have done and where it fits into the overall task, and define where you need to pick it up again. If necessary make a note of this. Then decide, before you stop, when you will restart the task.

2. How to concentrate on a topic which you hate or which bores you.

Actively search in the material for aspects of the subject that can be turned into useful information (and might even be interesting!): you could do this by focusing on finding five central, important ideas to think about. Use mind-maps or spider diagrams to record the search, and write test questions to summarise your learning after each study session.

Mindmap
Focus on the personal rewards of completing the topic satisfactorily (even if its only to be rid of the task) and build in treats to reward yourself as you progress through the task. If all else fails, see it as a personal challenge - don't let it beat you.

3. Day-dreaming

Use the STOP! technique and Attending to counteract it. Maybe make being allowed to daydream a reward after a period of concentration.

4. Negative thinking

Loss of concentration can lead to negative thoughts about yourself. Deal with them as with other distractions, and banish them into your Worry Time, when you can check out their reality.

5. Being vague

If you are not quite sure what you are supposed to be doing or why you are doing it then it will be difficult to maintain concentration. You could try to define the task in terms of its content and purpose, and then to make a realistic estimate of how much time and effort will be required to do it.

6. Feeling overwhelmed

Sometimes what we have to do is just too much for us to get our head around. When we think about it, it is too huge a task to contemplate and our feelings of inadequacy take over. Both contribute to losing concentration because it all feels impossible. In such circumstances, look for ways of breaking the task up into smaller discreet parts that feel manageable. Then treat them as individual tasks, summoning up your concentration for each of them separately. It then doesn't need so much effort to fix them all together later on to make a complete whole.

7. Self-doubt

Intellectual activity takes place mainly in the brain and is thus not shared without making a special effort. If we don't discuss what we are doing with others it is very easy to wonder whether what we are doing is OK. This can lead us to feel ineffective and fragile, which in turn can become self-doubt. You need to reduce or banish your doubts if they are not to interfere with concentration. If it isn't possible to discuss what you are doing with others, you could try using the four steps mentioned under Negative Thinking to check out the worth of what you are doing.

If you have concentrated well enough to get this far in this leaflet you are doing OK!
If you want to explore this subject more or seek ideas about other study skills, you could:
  • talk to your tutor or Director of Studies
  • share ideas with other students
  • buy a self-help book (the Open University publish some good guides)
  • come to the 'Can't Work Group' for students at the Counselling Service
  • University Staff can make an appointment to see a Staff Counsellor