When I was listening to this conversation, the most memorable moment came when Brené Brown had this conversation with a husband and father about vulnerability:

"[Men] have shame, we have deep shame. But when we reach out and tell our stories, we get the emotional [beep] beat out of us." And he said, "before you say anything about those mean fathers and those coaches and those brothers and those boyfriends, my wife and three daughters, the ones you just signed the books for, they would rather see me die, on top of my white horse, than have to watch me fall off." And then he just walked away.

Krista Tippett speaks with Brené Brown about vulnerability.

designed-for-life

designed-for-life:

Oliver Peake: Japanese Bed

"This was an interesting commission. The client wanted an entirely sunken bed with hidden storage and invisible heating! We couldn’t go down as it was on the first floor so we raised it up. A simple solution elegantly executed, the floor lifts up to reveal storage ‘bins’ with a matching stepped drawer unit."

Materials:

Solid maple throughout.

neurosciencestuff
neurosciencestuff:

New finding suggests a way to block stress’ damage
Ketamine, an anesthetic sometimes abused as a street drug, increases the synaptic connections between brain cells and in low doses acts as a powerful antidepressant, Yale researchers have found. However, stress has the opposite effect, shrinking the number of synaptic spines, triggering depression.
In the April 13 online issue of the journal  Nature Medicine, Yale researchers found that expression of single gene called REDD1 enables stress to damage brain cells and cause depressive behavior.
“We found if we delete REDD1, we can block the effects of stress in mice,” said Ron Duman, the Elizabeth Mears and House Jameson Professor of Psychiatry and professor of neurobiology.
In recent studies, the Yale team showed that ketamine activates the mTORC1 pathway, which in turn spurs synthesis of synaptic proteins and connections. In the new study, they show that the REDD1 gene expression blocks mTORC1 activity and decreases the number of synaptic connections. The new study by Duman and lead author Kristie Ota showed that mice without the REDD1 gene were impervious to the synaptic and behavioral deficits caused by stress. By contrast, when the gene was over-expressed, mice exhibited loss of synaptic connections and increased depression and anxiety behaviors.
In addition, post-mortem examinations of people who had suffered from depression showed high levels of REDD1 in cortical regions associated with depression.
Yale’s work with ketamine has already led to development of new classes of antidepressants, which are currently in clinical trials. Duman said these new findings may provide a new drug target that directly blunts the negative impacts of stress.

neurosciencestuff:

New finding suggests a way to block stress’ damage

Ketamine, an anesthetic sometimes abused as a street drug, increases the synaptic connections between brain cells and in low doses acts as a powerful antidepressant, Yale researchers have found. However, stress has the opposite effect, shrinking the number of synaptic spines, triggering depression.

In the April 13 online issue of the journal Nature Medicine, Yale researchers found that expression of single gene called REDD1 enables stress to damage brain cells and cause depressive behavior.

“We found if we delete REDD1, we can block the effects of stress in mice,” said Ron Duman, the Elizabeth Mears and House Jameson Professor of Psychiatry and professor of neurobiology.

In recent studies, the Yale team showed that ketamine activates the mTORC1 pathway, which in turn spurs synthesis of synaptic proteins and connections. In the new study, they show that the REDD1 gene expression blocks mTORC1 activity and decreases the number of synaptic connections. The new study by Duman and lead author Kristie Ota showed that mice without the REDD1 gene were impervious to the synaptic and behavioral deficits caused by stress. By contrast, when the gene was over-expressed, mice exhibited loss of synaptic connections and increased depression and anxiety behaviors.

In addition, post-mortem examinations of people who had suffered from depression showed high levels of REDD1 in cortical regions associated with depression.

Yale’s work with ketamine has already led to development of new classes of antidepressants, which are currently in clinical trials. Duman said these new findings may provide a new drug target that directly blunts the negative impacts of stress.

Experimental design for a textural display

In the stage two of the project, I put together a conceptual prototype that brought together a handful of cutting-edge research findings:

  1. Beginning with Don Norman’s design principles, I began with a user-centered design process to get a better sense of how the end product could be used and the kinds of problems it would solve.
  2. I then decided to use the Wizard-of-Oz technique for sensor data to acknowledging that the possible data sources are diverse and that for this project, I would focus more on displaying and rendering the data.
  3. I incorporated research on interruption management to improve attention capture—such as waiting until the speaker pauses before attempting to interrupt—and allow users to better interpret the importance of the interruption [2, 4].
  4. The information display uses multiple modals to improve feedback in noisy environments or when used during cognitively demanding tasks [1].

In this third stage of the project, with feedback from the professor and classmates, we identified an interesting aspect of the concept to prototype that has not received a lot of attention in the research community: textural displays. More specifically, we identified the essential interaction that the textural display facilitated—using haptic feedback to quickly get non-nominal (ordinal, interval, ratio, etc.) information at glance—and different methods that could achieve the similar results.

Feedback from textural display prototypes

The interaction begged the question: Which manifestations of textural displays would be most useful? To answer this question, I quickly put together three low-fidelity prototypes to get informal feedback from MUX lab members and other grad students.

image

In the image, the prototypes are blocks of balsa wood covered with masking tape. On the left, the bubble prototype has an indentation, highlighted in light blue, that simulates an inflatable diaphragm to render non-nominal data. The prototype could then be rotated to a different corner of the balsa wood block with bubble wrap underneath the tape to simulate different levels of inflation.

On the right, instead of using bubble wrap, I used sand paper to simulate a “roughness” display. Highlighted in turquoise is one grade of sandpaper, while the black sandpaper on the bottom half of the block is another grade of sandpaper. The “active” part of the display (grade of sandpaper) would be exposed while the other grades of sandpaper would be covered with tape. As with the bubble prototype, the block is rotated to simulate changes in the display’s roughness.

Finally, in the middle, a piece of metal (highlighted purple) is slid up and down over exposed balsa wood (coloured yellow) to simulate a slider display. When rendering non-nominal data, the experimenter would need to move the slider him or herself to simulate an active display.

image

The feedback was fairly consistent:

  • Sandpaper doesn’t feel nice.
  • It’s difficult to tell different levels of inflation for the bubbles without a reference, but it feels nice.
  • The slider is easiest tell differences at extremes (e.g. all the way up or all the way down), but could take a while to interpret because of the size.

There were a few individual differences as well: some people thought it’s easier to tell different levels using sandpaper while others thought it would be easier with bubbles. One big downside of using sandpaper (aside from having an unpleasant texture) is that people’s haptic abilities vary widely and decline over time. This means that different people feel textures with varying accuracy and, as we age, our ability to feel different textures becomes less reliable. Thus, using an inflatable diaphragm or roughness displays may not be suitable for most use cases.

On the other hand, the slider prototype, using generally interpretably different textures for the slider and exposed surfaces would offer the best of all three prototypes: the slider renders non-nominal data well and the textured surfaces could potentially allow users to quickly interpret the display at glance, especially if the surface area of the display fits under a finger.

Preparing for a pilot research study

To wrap up the project, I’ll take these preliminary findings and run a small pilot study. After reading the experiment by Hameed et al as a starting point [2] and discussing with Oliver about the experimental design, here’s an outline of the experiment.

  • Hypothesis: People can quickly recognize a rendered level on a textured slider haptic interface under cognitive load.
  • Null hypothesis: People cannot recognize the rendered level or they cannot do it quickly enough.

For the purposes of this study, “quickly” means under 2 seconds. The procedures are as follows:

  1. Participants use the 2-back performance test for a constant cognitive load. Skip this step for the control condition.
  2. After completing a random number of 2-back runs, participants are prompted to read the rendered level on the slider within a randomly chosen time limit (1, 2, 4, 7, 15, or 30 seconds).
  3. The participant acknowledge the prompt by clicking on a button to begin the countdown timer and the system records the rendered value.
  4. The participant physically reads the slider without looking.
  5. The participant enters the numeric value (0-100%) on the screen.
  6. The participant submits the entered value and the system records the value and time to complete the task.
  7. Repeat.

The 2-back test consists of presenting to the participant a series of images and asking the participant to click on images that appeared two instances ago. There’s an excellent example at the cognitive fun! website.

image

This is a controlled within-subjects experiment with cognitive load (2-back test) and time as the independent variables, and deviation from the rendered value as the dependent variable. The data will be analyzed using the two-way ANOVA test to determine the main and interaction effects. The timer data will be binned (1, 2, 4 seconds etc.) to satisfy the ANOVA requirement for categorical independent variables.

Hopefully, I’ll have enough time to build the prototypes, the 2-back with prompt and record system, recruit participants, and run the study in time for next Wednesday’s presentation!

References

[1] Gray, R., Spence, C., Ho, C., and Tan, H. Z. Efficient multimodal cuing of spatial attention. Proceedings of the IEEE 101, 9 (2013), 2113–2122.

[2] Hameed, S., Ferris, T., Jayaraman, S., and Sarter, N. Using informative peripheral visual and tactile cues to support task and interruption management. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 51, 2 (2009), 126–135.

[3] Mutlu, B. Human-Computer Interaction: Experimental Design. University of Wisconsin-Madison. 9 April 2014. <http://hci.cs.wisc.edu/courses/hci/lectures/fall2011/HCI-Week05-Lecture06.pdf>

[4] Sarter, N. Multimodal support for interruption management: Models, empirical findings, and design recommendations. Proceedings of the IEEE 101, 9 (Sept 2013), 2105–2112.