Horácio Tomé Marques, a Digital Media PhD student, presented a Neurofeedback project in Brussels


Interdisciplinary research,
education and capacity building


17 Jul 2017

The presentation took place at the European Commission Conference “Research & Innovation – Shaping Our Future”, one of the most important international conferences on research and innovation in Europe.

 

Horácio Tomé Marques, a Digital Media PhD student at the University of Porto, did one more original activity with Brain Interfaces and Neurofeedback, this time at the European Commission (EU) Conference “Research & Innovation - Shaping Our Future”, involving the participation of Pascal Lamy, former president of the WTO - World Trade Organization, and Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation.

Under the theme neurofeedback and neurotechnology and its applications today and in the future - in areas such as health, education, sports, robotics, entertainment or the arts - the student of the Doctoral Program in Digital Media, under the UT Austin | Portugal program, presented on July 3, in Brussels, his Neurofeedback project.

It was an unprecedented activity, both by the context and the people involved, within which was designated as “Glimpses of the Future” and curated by Michela Magas, Women Innovators 2017 1st Prize, that crossed neurosciences, technology and art. It was led by Horácio Tomé Marques, responsible for the art, programming, and scientific co-design of the system, and by his long-time colleague Francisco Marques Teixeira*, co-artist, and responsible for the system scientific design, and by Carlos Moedas and Pascal Lamy as the “performers” (i.e., the actual “players” of the “game”).

The game consists of two avatars (brain based forms), each corresponding to each participant. It detects phenomena such as focused attention or intense use of working memory, and controls and produces animations, musical entities and special effects according to those phenomena. The system, this time, uses mostly algorithms to process gamma / beta waves —there is some empirical evidence that, high frequency oscillations, e.g., gamma-band activity, could denote the number of relevant items maintained in working memory and/or semantic evaluation of speech.

The “game” begins with both avatars in a resting state. If a participant becomes loaded cognitively by, e.g., trying to do complex mental arithmetic based calculations, his brain avatar begins to turn towards the other avatar, and to increase the volume of his musical entity(s). It also generates more particles each time it achieves a threshold. If the participants achieve an high-level of the same state simultaneously, and during certain amount of time, besides "looking" at each other, getting closer, generating more particles, adding sounds, and augmenting sound volume, each brain (avatar) "explodes” in looping colours, as if they became in strong mutual influence. It is relevant to say that, after some training, the participants may eventually control the system consciously and this makes the system a true interactive game.

Organized by the European Commission (EC) the conference took place in the Charlemagne Conference Centre, Brussels, Belgium, and focused on the discussion and evaluation of research and innovation issues in Europe, where results of programs such as Horizon 2020 and relevant case-studies, from the pharmaceutical industry to the space industry, were presented, and future needs and paths were considered.

In addition to Carlos Moedas and Pascal Lamy, many other prominent personalities were present, such as Serge Haroche, Nobel Prize in Physics in 2012, Fabiola Gianotti, General-Director of CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research and Vladimir Šucha, General-Director of the Joint Research Center of the European Commission. Also policymakers from EU institutions, nearly 700 stakeholders and interested actors to discuss the role of research and innovation for Europe's future.

Horácio has been able to keep his research fresh and alive in the brain representation systems through the arts and multimedia approaches, by continuously proposing and testing innovative direct brain based “narrative” possibilities.

 

*Horácio Tomé Marques and Francisco Marques Teixeira are both founders and directors of MuARTs (www.muarts.tech).

More information about the conference available at:
https://ec.europa.eu/research/conferences/2017/shaping-our-future/index.cfm

Image Credits: MTF/CE