Showing posts with label Stanford. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stanford. Show all posts

Sep 24, 2011

Finding Pain

A team at Stanford University in California used computer learning software to sort through data generated by brain scans and detect when people were in pain.

"The question we were trying to answer was can we use neuroimaging to objectively detect whether a person is in a state of pain or not. The answer was yes," Dr. Sean Mackey of the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, whose study appears in the journal PLoS One.

Currently, doctors rely on patients to tell them whether or not they are in pain. And that is still the gold standard for assessing pain, Mackey said.

Some patients, the very young, the very old, dementia patients or those who are not conscious, cannot say if they are hurting, and that has led to a long search for some way to objectively measure pain.

"People have been looking for a pain detector for a very long time. We're hopeful we can eventually use this technology for better detection and better treatment of chronic pain."

His team used a computer algorithm invented in 1995 to classify patterns of brain activity and determine whether or not someone is experiencing pain.

To train the computer, eight volunteers underwent brain scans while they were touched first by an object that was hot, and then by one that was so hot it was painful. The computer used data from these scans to recognize different brain activity patterns that occur when a person is detecting heat, and which ones detect pain.

The computer was more than 80 percent accurate in detecting which brain scans were of people in pain, and it was just as accurate at ruling out those who were not in pain.

Feb 8, 2011

Of Mice and Men

The ubiquitous computer mouse is 43 years old. It took six years to develop and was unveiled in December, 1968, although it did not become commercially available until the 1980s, with the advent of the personal computer. Douglas C. Engelbart and a group of 17 researchers working with him in the Augmentation Research Center at Stanford Research Institute came up with the revolutionary way to communicate with computers.

In the fast changing computer world, it is almost unheard of to have one technology last this long. Its demise has been predicted for almost twenty years, but all the great minds have yet to find a way to replace it. Even the trackball, joy stick, and touch pad have not been able to replace the mouse. Touch screen is coming, as is voice control, but it will be a few more years until they find the right technology to unseat the mighty mouse. BTW - Mighty Mouse came along in 1942 and Mickey Mouse has been around a bit longer, since his debut in 1928 and he is still going strong.

Oct 15, 2010


A term coined by Stanford University professor Robert N. Proctor to describe the study of culturally-induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data. Excuse me, but is it getting warm in here?

Nov 5, 2009

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

Most people think that a coin toss is completely random and the odds of it landing on heads or tails is equal.  Recently, a three-person team of Stanford and UC-Santa Cruz researchers produced a study that challenges conventional wisdom.

The researchers concluded that a coin is more likely to land facing the same side on which it started. If tails is facing up when the coin is on your thumb, it is more likely to land tails up.

They used a high-speed camera that photographed people flipping coins and found that from 51 to 60 percent of the time, depending on the flipping motion of the individual, it landed on the side that was facing up when the flip began.

Most people count how a coin lands, but do not check how it started and that has led to some common misconceptions. It is also not how high a coin is flipped or other variables, such as wind speed, air temperature, phase of the moon, or size or the weight of the coin. Knowing how it starts slightly increases the odds in your favor.

The researchers used the camera to show that coins flipped from a thumb don't just rotate around their axis, but they also spin like a Frisbee and that is caused by the motion of the thumb. They found that there is always bias and some people have more bias than others due to the way they flip, but the bias is always toward the side facing up before the flip.

The landing surface also has an influence, like a hard surface changes the equation. Bottom line call it as you see it and always for a soft surface, like grass. I wonder how many coins they spent paying for this 'scientific research'?