This pro-bono project is a collaboration between MSU faculty members and Rwandan mental health professionals; a US-based NGO, Linking Schools; the Kigali Genocide Museum; and Association Mwana Ukundwa (AMU), a Rwandan organization that works with children orphaned by genocide and the resulting HIV-AIDS. Based on a writing workshop model, the project uses narrative writing and visual media for healing among high-school-aged orphan survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Neuromechanics is an emerging field that views the brain, body, and environment question as a biologically-salient complex system which can provide a stepping-stone to applications such as brain-computer interfaces, neurorehabilitative assistive devices, and physically-immersive training procedures. In a series of experiments and computational investigations conducted in the past year, neuromechanical principles were used in two ways: to better understand how the design of motion-controlled and haptic-based virtual environments conform to features of human physiology, and how such environments can be used to create ‘mutant’ conditions to better understand the natural range of physiological responses to such environments.
Presence research in the MINDLab is an ongoing program of interest. This research seeks to understand the psychological underpinnings of the sensation of actually being in a virtual location when immersed in a digital medium. Greater immersion in a medium (e.g., larger screens, more realistic graphics and sound, etc.) tends to lead the user to become less conscious of their physical surroundings, and more deeply conscious of the mediated world.
As a facsimile of the real world, video games offer an incredible new opportunity for educating and communicating with a wide range of audiences. The profusion of video games has been met with a rapidly growing research community dedicated to understanding this medium. Researchers routinely study the effects of video game violence or other features on opinions and behavior, and games have been found to improve performance in real-world tasks like surgery or visual search. In the MINDLab, we have begun several new studies looking at the interplay between video games and a variety of cognitive skills. In one study, we are working with colleagues to examine individual differences in mental rotation ability and the ability to perform spatial navigation in a virtual maze. In another study, we have been examining the effects of emotional state on cognitive performance (e.g., decision making, memory, risk taking) during a game-play session. We are also in the process of constructing computational models of cognitive skills such as decision making and learning, which should enable us to gain a better understanding of the cognitive aspects of real-time game play.
The M.I.N.D. Lab is part of a large multi-institution team working to gain a comprehensive, theoretically motivated understanding of deception. An overarching model of deception such as the one envisioned by the research team has the potential to revolutionize technological approaches to detecting deception in real time. Clearly, improvements in this area would be of immediate benefit to national security officials (e.g., airport security), the business community (e.g., job applicant deception), and personal relationships (e.g., spousal infidelity).
The M.I.N..D. Lab is creating a Brain-Computer Interface. For our ongoing research projects, the lab is equipped with both psychophysiological recording equipment, and tools for creating virtual environments. Combining these technologies makes sense as we continue to explore the intersection between media and mind. Our goal is to create a feedback loop whereby media can react to changes in brain and body states, leading to further changes in body states, and so on. With such a system in place, we can explore characteristics of optimal correspondence between interactive media and psychological responses to media. Such a system has the potential to give the user a direct link between mind and media.
Undercover UXO is an educational game designed to teach children in war torn countries to spot and avoid potential indicators of landmines and other unexploded ordnance (UXO). It is played on the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program’s XO laptop. The game is purely graphical, with no text to read.