Multi-tasking makes it harder to focus on work

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Sticking to one task at a time is an increasing rarity, as things such as checking social media while watching TV, or online shopping while on the phone become the norm. But if you have ever talked to a friend or family member while tapping out emoji on WhatsApp, only to realise you've missed half the conversation, you'll know how juggling tasks can cause you to lose focus. Now, a new poll has found that constant multitasking may actually be hindering our performance, reducing focus for parents and children. Research from the US suggests that constant multitasking may actually be hindering our performance, reducing focus for parents and children alike. While tech has an increasingly important role in modern life, a poll of 1,200 parents and teens in the US found the constant multitasking and omnipresence of tech is leading to an'always on' mentality.


Speaking SLANG is as good for your brain as being bilingual and spending just a week using a new language boosts attention span

Daily Mail - Science & tech

The benefits of speaking more than one language have long been debated - with some experts claiming it gives the brain a boost, while others describing it as a distraction. But a new study has now suggested that even speaking two dialects of the same language can be as good for your brain as speaking two separate languages. The researchers found that bi-dialectalism - the ability to speak slang and proper English - can boost memory. Using slang (cockney rhyming slang on a cash machine pictured) can boost the brain in the same way as learning a new language. They found that while some people speak African American English at home, they also use Mainstream American English at school, which can benefit their brain.


Building an emotional machine

#artificialintelligence

From the sci-fi classic "Bladerunner" to the recent films "Her" and "Ex Machina," pop culture is filled with stories demonstrating our simultaneous fascination with and fear of artificial intelligence (AI). This interest is rooted in questions about where the line between human and artificial intelligence will be, and whether that line might one day disappear. Will robots eventually be able to not only think but also feel and behave like us? Could a robot ever be fully human? It is a relatively new field that started in the 1990s.8 A new multidisciplinary field called developmental robotics is paving the way to some answers.(a)


Longitudinal Child-Robot Interaction at Preschool

AAAI Conferences

In the field of pedagogical services for children, teachers and parents have growing interest in and need for observing and analyzing children's peer interactions in their everyday situations, where their communicative competence and performance are naturally exhibited. However, children's peer interaction would certainly be one of the most difficult human activities to investigate, since it cannot easily be transcribed in a symbolic or quantitative form. Video recording and analysis help us a lot, but the presence of a video camera (and, of course, the person who operates it) would usually spoil the natural interactions among children. As we step back the camera away from the interactants, we would then loose the rich flow of emotional and attentional exchange. How can we observe and describe the rich flow in the intercorporal and intersubjective interactions? We describe here our trial of utilizing an interactive robot for observing children's peer interaction in the playroom at a preschool (Figure 1), which suggests a novel way to observe human communicative behavior in everyday situations. The robot functions not only as an observation device (e.g., video camera) but also as an interaction partner for children; here we may equate "the robot" both with "the observer" and with "the interactant". Next section introduces Figure 1: Keepon in the peer interaction among children in their playroom at a preschool.


Scientist reveals how a baby's cry activates different regions in our brain

Daily Mail - Science & tech

We've all at some point sat on a flight with a crying baby, wondering with each successive wail how much longer you can stand the sound. But these piercing cries are designed to activate specific areas of our brains that means we want to take immediate action. Writing in The Conversation Jordan Raine, a researcher in Human Non-verbal Vocalisations at University of Sussex, explains what exactly it is about a baby's cry that makes it so hard to ignore. Crying evolved to have a specific impact on listeners. Plentiful research has shown these calls to specifically activate adults' brain regions important for attention and empathy (stock image used) Crying is a primitive behaviour shared across mammals, whose governing mechanisms are rooted in the evolutionarily ancient brain stem.