On February 15, 2013, C-NERVE hosted Stout Scholars, who participated in
a hands-on lab experience we like to call Mind Reading using Psychophysiology: Measuring Emotional Responses to Sounds
Using Facial EMG (muscle activity) and skin conductance.
For this experience,
the Stout Scholars listened to 4 different sounds that were chosen to evoke 4
different emotions, while we recorded three physiological measures. Specifically,
we recorded muscle activity of the zygomaticus, which is the muscle that
controls smiling. We measured muscle activity in the corrugator, which is the
muscle that controls furrowing of the eyebrows. Finally, we measured skin
conductance, which essentially is a measure of palm sweat, and can be used to
tell about a person's general state of arousal.
The Scholars were first asked to make predictions about how
each sound would affect each of the measures. The students predicted that:
Harp music -relaxation (low arousal, low smiling, low furrowing
Bees buzzing - general arousal (slight/moderate arousal, muted
smiling, muted/slight furrowing of eyebrows)
A man vomiting - disgust (high arousal, muted/slight little smiling,
moderate/intense furrowing of eyebrows)
then listened to the 4 sounds through a set of headphones, while the other
scholars monitored the data (amount of muscle activity and skin conductance).
They then used it to determine which sound the subject was hearing at different
points in time. Thus, they were Mind Reading using Electrophysiology. It turns
out, the Scholars are pretty good mind readers.
Example of data for Mind Reading Demonstration
Talk Like a Pirate Day, September 19, 2012
Did you ever wonder why so many pirates really work eye patches? Was it really the case that so many pirates had lost an eye in battle?
Dr. Budd's Perception class contemplated this question, while exploring how the visual system adapts to the dark. The students wore eye patches for 30 minutes and talked like pirates while they watch the Pirate episode of the Myth Busters.
When going from bright light to darkness, it takes the eye about 25 minutes to become maximally adapted to see in the dark. It has been suggested that the eye patches were really to aid pirates who often had to move from the bright light above deck to the pitch black below deck. The eye patch kept one eye dark-adapted at all times. If a battle broke out or they had to go below deck, they simply switch the eye patch to the light-adapted eye and they would be able to see in the dark right away.
To explore how well this might work, each student wore and eye patch for 30 minutes and then tested their ability to perform different visual tasks with both their light and dark adapted eye, with the lights on and in the dark.
Frankenstein and the Electric Brain
by Jerry Poling
A group of Menomonie High School had a
chance to take the George Washington test Tuesday at University of
Wisconsin-Stout. Could they tell a lie?
In groups of four, they were hooked up to
an electrodermal activity machine, similar to one used in lie detector tests.
Sensors attached to the palms of their hands measured the slightest change in
their sweat glands, triggering changes in the electrical conductivity of their
skin, which showed up as wavelength shifts on a computer screen in front of
them. Student Xavier Schwartz was singled out as a test case. He was asked, "Is
there a girl you have a crush on that you haven't told anyone about?" When
Schwartz said no, his wavelength shot up, indicating a possible fib, which
brought a round of ribbing from his classmates. However, Schwartz maintained
his innocence. "It went up just because I'm laughing," he said, while smiling
through the incident.
Schwartz was one of 16 students in an
advanced literature and composition who were introduced to the marvels of using
changes in EDA (sweating), EKG (heart rate), EEG (brain waves) and EMG (muscle
activity) as measures of cognitive and emotional states. They recently finished
reading the classic 1818 novel "Frankenstein," by Mary Shelley, about a
scientist who infuses life into dead matter. Their teacher, Jennifer Behrend,
knew that many of her students also are taking a psychology class and saw the
visit to Stout as a way to broaden their knowledge.
Seven UW-Stout students, all psychology
majors who work in the C-NERVE lab, were on hand to conduct activity. "The idea
was to demonstrate some of the things we now know about the electrochemical
nature of nervous action that were only dimly suspected in Shelley's time,"