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Synergy Tue, 06 Aug 2013 11:15:24 +0000 sl hourly 1 synergy_teaser Tue, 06 Aug 2013 11:13:27 +0000 Saša ]]>

Synergy is a neural machine prototype that enables us to reprogram human brain via brain-computer interface. At the same time, it is also an audiovisual object that reflects ourselves as well as our interaction with others. This neural machine invites us to become present in the »here and now«, as this is the only way we are able to control it via neuroheadsets that measure our brain electrical activity – EEG. In the neurochamber we connect to the machine as a neural impulse generator and ignite an infinite neuro-bio-feedback loop that can reprogram our neuroplastic brains by experiencing and controlling two responsive audiovisual objects in a virtual 3D space. Audiovisual convergence or divergence reflect synchrony or asynchrony of brain waves generated by two users, through which we learn and develop our synergetic potential, our ability for cooperation and harmonization, which is essential in the evolutionary pressure of current geopolitical situation.

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synergy_neurochamber Sun, 30 Jun 2013 10:31:53 +0000 Saša Come and try out your synergetic potential from 26.6. until 5.7. in our neurochamber at Kapelica Gallery in Ljubljana, Slovenia. To reserve your time slot contact us at

Photos by Simona Jerala and Saša Spačal.

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synergy_society Tue, 11 Jun 2013 16:44:23 +0000 Saša ]]> SYNCHRONY, COHERENCE
The neurophysiological theory of higher brain functions predicts that multiple superimposed synchronized (coherent) oscillations in different frequency bands with different spatial patterns and functional correlates govern specific mental functions. Synchronized oscillatory activity of EEG signals can be measured and calculated by different correlation methods, but mostly EEG coherence analysis is used. Coherence between two EEG signals (x, y), on the other hand, equals the squared cross-correlation power spectrum in the frequency domain. It reflects the degree of amplitude- and phase-locking / coupling – the similarity and inter-dependence between two distant signals. Coherence values can span the interval between 0 and 1, where value 0 means total absence of synchronous coupling and value 1 means full matching of two signals.
In our project / experiment we observe, analyze, represent and promote EEG synchronization of brain waves of two cooperating subjects to test interpersonal harmonization, similarities, coherence. The level of synchronization will be represented in distinct AV feedback on the screen in the neurochamber.

Synergy is defined on multiple levels, some of those are inherent also to our project:
• the interaction of multiple elements in a system to produce an effect different from or greater than the sum of their individual effects. The term synergy comes from the Greek word synergia (συνέργια from synergos, συνεργός), meaning “working together”.
• dynamic state in which combined action is favored over the difference of individual component actions.
• behavior of whole systems unpredicted by the behavior of their parts taken separately, known as emergent behavior.
• the cooperative action of two or more stimuli, resulting in a different or greater response than that of the individual stimuli.
• energetically efficient way of information processing in complex coherent self-organized systems
“We cannot understand any system by seeking to comprehend each component. When elements interact with each other there is a flow of energy between them, perhaps in the form of nutrients, water, food, or information. Synergy is when the sum of the whole system is greater than the sum of its parts. We have the individual elements and we also have the relationship that adds further complexity and characteristics. Many parents will identify with having to manage not only the demands of each child but also the dynamic between them, which can create more work. The whole is not predictable from looking at the parts, because we do not know what the relationship and flow of energy is between them or how that will influence each part. From this synergy of interactions new properties will emerge. We cannot predict the wetness of water from looking at oxygen and hydrogen molecules separately. From neurons, consciousness and creativity emerge. The number of possible relationships increases exponentially with the number of parts.” (Macnamara, Looby).

Synergy is also energetically efficient and creative way of processing information, which generates “added transcendent value” in complex systems like human brain and in social interactions, but also at a wider scale, in society as a whole. Regarding causality in evolution Peter Corning observes: “Synergistic effects of various kinds have played a major causal role in the evolutionary process generally and in the evolution of cooperation and complexity in particular. In other words, emergence itself has been the underlying cause of the evolution of emergent phenomena in biological evolution; it is the synergies produced by organized systems that are the key”.

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synergy_psychology and protocol Thu, 06 Jun 2013 16:01:22 +0000 Saša ]]> Our mind is complex and everchanging. Mind is our collection of cognitive / psychological functions which enables perception, thinking, judgement, memory, decision making, emotions etc., and finally unique subjective consciousness. Many different disciplines like philosophy, religion, psychology and cognitive science try to understand it. The main dilemma regarding the nature of mind is its relation to the physical brain and nervous system – question of the “mind-body problem”. Cognitive neuroscience argues that physical phenomena are direct generators of our minds. At the systems level, neuroscientists investigate how biological neural networks form and physiologically interact to produce mental functions and content. Computational neuroscience develops large-scale models that simulate simple, functioning brains and cognitive science examines the mental functions that give rise to information processing, termed cognition – to understand the representational structures in the mind and computational procedures that operate on those structures. On the other hand,  psychology is the scientific study of human behavior, mental functioning (such as perception, memory etc), and experience, but also researches environmental influences (e.g. social, cultural influences,  interpersonal relationships), to explain complex human behavior. Modern evolving approach to studying the mind is integrative and inter/ transdisciplinary cooperation of many different scientific disciplines.
In our project / experiment we have decided to explore the following basic and very different states of the mind: meditative, cognitive / rational and emotional states. Additionally, we were interested in dynamic cooperation of 2 users as a form of social cognition / synergy, which is reflected in our protocol tasks. These include specific stimuli and instructions, which evoke or help specific mind states to form. Such states are mediated by specific neural activities characteristic for each state / task.

Neutral state is supposed to represent basic reference point, i.e. a control / rest task, which enables all other active experimental tasks to be compared to same specific “null condition”. Neutral training must be completed first before any actions can be trained and activated.

Meditation is a mental state of increased inner awareness and relaxation, without cognitive effort or external attentional and thought processes. The term meditation can refer to the state itself, as well as to practices or techniques employed to cultivate the state. Meditation has a calming effect and directs awareness inward until pure awareness is achieved, described as “being awake inside without being aware of anything except awareness itself.” Brain waves exhibit specific patterns, depending on type of meditation and differ from other mental states.
Generally we expect to see a significant increase in alpha and theta activity in the frontal cortex, and a corresponding reduction in beta and gamma. Alpha activity at the rear of the head is misleading because it can be stimulated by simply closing the eyes. The distribution of this activity is significant.

Cognitive mental state of calculating mathematical operations (addition, subtraction etc.), involves focused attention, working memory and executive rational processes, mediated by special networks in the brain. Beta and gamma waves dominance (with phase synchronization) but also characteristic patterns of theta and alpha dynamics.

Empathy is the capacity to recognize emotions that are being experienced by another sentient or fictional being. One may need to have a certain amount of empathy before being able to experience compassion. Mirror neurons that are strongly involved in empathy, developed in late evolution, further enabling evolution of consciousness, important for language, learning, social interactions and higher complex emotional states. Two conditions are necessary and sufficient for the creation of empathy: perception of another person as in need and adoption of that other’s perspective.

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synergy_interface testing Sat, 18 May 2013 12:08:27 +0000 Saša

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synergy_technology Sun, 05 May 2013 16:24:56 +0000 Saša ]]> BCI
BCI is an abbreviation for brain–computer interface, often called a mind-machine interface, or sometimes called a direct neural interface. It is a direct communication and control pathway between the brain and an external device. BCIs are often directed at assisting, augmenting, or repairing human cognitive or sensory-motor functions.

EEG short for electroencephalography is a method, suitable for the study of oscillations, as it measures repeated, periodic electrical activity of cortical neurons. It is influenced by intrinsic qualities of neurons and by dynamic interactions between communicating neuronal networks, incorporating internal recurrent loops / intrinsic activity and external dynamics/ reactivity. The macropotential is a result of changing pattern of synchronization and desynchronization of regional brain cells, which results in amplitude changes of specific frequency bands. EEG has great time resolution and shows distinct patterns of activity like brain rhythms, oscillations. Brain rhythms can be divided into many frequency bands (delta: 0.5–4 Hz, theta: 4–7 Hz, alpha: 8–13 Hz, beta: 13–30 Hz, gamma: more than 30 Hz) with their specific functional and behavioral correlates and activating contexts and spatial scales.

What enables it? Every thought / mental state can be related to characteristic pattern of activation of the brain. After we teach the computer to recognize, remember and predict these patterns, it becomes possible to “read the mind” of a person just from dynamics of temporo-spatial patterns of his or her brain activity.
Our algorithms / SW analyze your brainwaves and develop a personalized signature which corresponds to each particular task / action, as well as the background or neutral state.

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synergy_schematics Sat, 04 May 2013 10:47:53 +0000 Saša synergy_schematics

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synergy_biology Sun, 21 Apr 2013 16:15:45 +0000 Saša ]]> NEUROFEEDBACK LOOP
Neurofeedback loop is a type of biofeedback that measures brain waves or brain blood flow to produce a signal that can be used as feedback on brain activity to teach self-regulation. Feedback is commonly provided using video or sound, with positive feedback for desired brain activity and negative feedback for brain activity that is undesirable. Bio(nevro)feedback loop can speed up self-change via mutual influence brain-environment that enhances or inhibits the primary psychological / mental state.
Research shows neurofeedback can be an effective intervention for a range of brain-related conditions. Neurofeedback is regularly used worldwide to help patients with various conditions, e.g. addiction, ADHD, aggression, anxiety, autism, depression, epilepsy, headaches, insomnia, Tourette syndrome, brain damage from stroke, TBI and other causes.

Your brain has the innate ability to physically change itself when faced with new, challenging experiences. This ability is called neuroplasticity. Signals travel in specific neural pathways which determines your thoughts, emotions, etc. Pathways that you use regularly grow stronger. Every task you do relies on a different neural pathway. Neuroplasticity is your brain’s ability to create new neural pathways and reshape existing ones, even as an adult. If methodically approached, this reorganization can make your brain faster and more efficient at performing. Novel challenges force your brain to work in new ways, as your brain can no longer depend on old habits — it must remodel its existing circuitry and build new pathways for information processing. Neuroplasticity is an activity dependent brain’s self-changing mechanism that is also conditioned on self-preserving nature of neurons.

Mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another. Thus, the neuron “mirrors” the behavior of the other, as though the observer were itself acting. Such neurons have been directly observed in primate and other species including birds. In humans, brain activity consistent with that of mirror neurons has been found in the premotor cortex, the supplementary motor area, the primary somatosensory cortex and the inferior parietal cortex.
The function of the mirror system is still a subject of much speculation. Many researchers consider that this system provides the physiological mechanism for the perception/action coupling. They argue that mirror neurons may be important for understanding the actions and intentions of other people, and for learning new skills by imitation. Some researchers also speculate that mirror systems may simulate observed actions, and thus contribute to theory of mind skills, while others relate mirror neurons to language abilities. One study found that mirror neurons could discern if another person who was picking up a cup of tea planned to drink from it or clear it from the table. In addition, they argued that mirror neurons are the neural basis of the human capacity for emotions such as empathy (Iacoboni et al., 2005).

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synergy_ethics Sat, 20 Apr 2013 08:21:38 +0000 Saša ]]> Synergy project uses EEG technology or electroencephalography / special headsets and multiple sensors-electrodes attached, which only records natural brain electromagnetic activity / brain waves. There is no electromagnetic stimulation, no danger of electrical shock nor any harmful radiation. All head electrodes are being desinfected by special solution before used on each visitor. All data and software analyses from recordings are strictly confidential, anonymous and will be used only for the scientific and / or artistic goals by the project team. All other potential uses must be agreed beforehand with informed consent by each user individually.
The project members wish to express their view, that every technology must be used only together with careful ethical and other regulatory considerations and with optimal safeguards included.

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synergy_third app test Tue, 19 Feb 2013 19:59:42 +0000 Saša

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