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Virtual Dictionary

Activity Dependent Plasticity

The organic brain has the inherent ability to be plastic – to remould and reshape itself according to different patterns of activity carried out by the individual. For example if the person is right-handed and something happens to the right hand, then the left hand will become increasingly proficient over time. We see the same thing in a person who has lost their sight – hearing, scent and touch become much more acute to compensate.

Both occur because of ability-dependent plasticity. Neurons are shifted from an old task, to a new one as the person uses the old ability less and the new one more.

This has potential implications for non-standard embodiment. It means that, embodied in a virtual body that had a tail, or wings, the human brain could naturally adapt by shifting neurons from other tasks to these new appendages. However, over a long period of time, such embodiment control would come at a cost of precision for the normal limbs, or other abilities in the brain.

On the other hand, if the person did not use the embodied form for a substantial period of time, the plasticity would shift back to normal, and they would have to relearn how to use the added limbs if they went back.

See Also: Embodiment, Virtual Embodiment

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Neurons in the brain communicate by short electrical pulses, the so-called action potentials or spikes. How can we understand the process of spike generation? How can we understand information transmission by neurons? What happens if thousands of neurons are coupled together in a seemingly random network? How does the network connectivity determine the activity patterns?

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Neuropace: Neuro-blanker
A new neuroprosthetic on the market at the end of 2009, is an attempt to actually combiine a neural activity detector and a neurostimulator into one package. Traditionally this never worked because oncethe neurostimulator activates, it blocks out all underlying brain activity in the area - the implant is only reading itself. But, what if that is the desired outcome?

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US Seeks Virtual Environment Based Car Bombers
The predictably over-paranoid US government has begun to take its spy networks into cyberspace, targeting virtual environments for terrorist-like activity. Project codename Reynard aims to recognise "normal" behaviour in online worlds and home in on "anomalous" activity.

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Diagnosis Via Brain Music
In the video below, tunes are played via neuroprosthetics. What you are hearing, sounding eirie and mournful, is quite literally the sound of a healthy human brain working. Different areas were assigned to different notes, and the volume determined by the amount of activity. Areas with very low activity were filtered out entirely.

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What rights should we have to our virtual goods?
An intreguing article written from a MMO player's perspective, taking a balanced approach and arguing as to what rights players and participants should have to the virtual goods created within and dependent upon a specific platform.

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Cities XL
Gameindustry.biz take a look at Cities XL, Monte Cristo's ambitious product, attempting to combine a traditional city-simulation game with massively multiplayer online functionality, giving players the option to take part in a global, entirely player-dependent global economy.

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In defence of computer games
As Halo 3 chalks up $130,000,000 in its first 24 hours' trading, this BBC article looks at the ongoing flow of gaming and social VR from niche activity to the new way of life.

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A Case for Complexity?
What do players actually want from a world such as a MMORPG? Could it be that we are getting too complex in modern designs, and are turning them off, or is content too linear, too structured round the shared activity to be truly appealing? Decide for your self in this fascinating article.

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Biosensor That Warns when Athletes are about to 'Hit The Wall'
A new biosensor actively monitors the production of warning signs an athlete or anyone performing intense physical activity, is coming to the end of their physical endurance, and is about to simply lock up, with their muscles physically unable to go any further.


Industry News containing the Term Activity Dependent Plasticity:

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Like a gardener who stakes some plants and weeds out others, the brain is constantly building networks of synapses, while pruning out redundant or unneeded synapses. Researchers at The Jackson Laboratory led by Assistant Professor Zhong-wei...

Transplanting fetal neurons into the brains of young mice opens a new window on neural plasticity, or flexibility in the brain's neural circuits. The research, published today in the journal Science, suggests that the brain's ability to r...

The instruction manual for maintaining an efficient brain may soon include a section on synaptotagmin-IV (Syt-IV), a protein known to influence learning and memory, thanks to a study by UW-Madison researchers.

The study showe...

Recently, the accuracy of current methods of pain assessment in babies have been called into question. New research from London-area hospitals and the University of Oxford measures brain activity in infants to better understand their pain r...

New ways to manipulate neural plasticity--the brain's ability to rewire itself--could make adult brains as facile as young ones, at least in part. But first scientists will need to figure out how to harness this rewiring capacity without d...