Author Archives: Nilo

Gauge Emotions at the Neurological Level between your Customers and your Product

Can we seamlessly and inexpensively gauge and measure emotions at the neurological levels of our customers’ reactions towards our products? Short answer is Yes!

See my short intro video here. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more tips and ideas. Thanks!

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eBook: The Advances of Wearable EEG Neuroheadsets in the Tech and Business Industries

It took almost 6 years but it is almost done! In my PhD dissertation, I have integrated and connected three disciplines: Neuroscience, Information Science, and Cognitive Psychology. I learned a ton during the 6-year journey and, as a result, have developed ways in which neuroscience can be integrated within other disciplines and industries.

My first eBook is launching shortly. It is an introductory book about “electroencephalography” or EEG, a monitoring technique used to record the electrical activities of the brain, and how industries may use it for a variety of non-medical applications. In particular, my research used the Emotiv EPOC, a wearable EEG neuroheadset.

Those interested, do one or all of the following 🙂

  • Subscribe to my YouTube channel for hands-on videos with tips and ideas.
  • For a free copy of my first book, Email or comment your email address to me.
  • Stay connect on LinkedIn.

 

A quick introduction to my upcoming book.

 

Can you use neuroscience in your business?

 

 


Forgetting who we’ve been

Most probably, many of my neuroscience colleagues will deeply disagree with what I am about to write here. However, there is also a movement towards a paradigm shift around how we define the brain and/or its functionalities.

So, I guess this post is a humble contribution to the movement, the paradigm shift of how we understand the brain.

I have come to realize that if we continue to think about the brain and define it as it exists today in the text books, our deep questions will simply never be answered.

For the sake of this post, I am sharing two of my long standing fundamental (stupid) questions: 1) where exactly exactly is the memory and 2) what exactly exactly is information?

I double-write exactly because every time that I ask these questions, the answers that our current body of knowledge offers appear to only touch the surface. In other words, they fail to provide in-depth answers that would quench my thirst.

While spending years in the tangible world of science, simultaneously, I have also spent years in the untangible world of the art and spirituality.

To me, both worlds complement one another and have helped me build a more holistic experience, understanding, and knowledge of this world.

As a result, I believe that if we want to define the brain we need to look at it holistically and not just scientifically. I know… it sounds cliche. But hear me out!

Everything that we see, hear, touch, etc is made up of energy! I don’t believe anyone disagrees with that. Hence, the brain is made up of energy too. In fact, in labs, we measure things such as brainwaves, which does indicate the emanation of energy.

So, if the brain is all energy, can we assume that what we call the memory is also energy, waves, frequencies?

If so, then there is no such thing as the brain being the storage cabinet or somewhere we store files and files of so called information. In that case, there is no memory as we define it.

The brain, then, is simply a generator and receiver of these waves, i.e. it does not store anything but that it tunes itself into different waves of energy, which in turn have/carry different types of information.

This means that, at any point in time, we forget who we are because there is no real memory in the brain that makes us remember our name, gender, address, etc.

The brain, depending on the habits of the individual, tunes itself into the same frequencies, which in turn carry the same information. Hence, we remember things from the past.

The job of the individual, then, is to either stay with the usual and let the brain be the same receiver as before or, if change is needed, increase their awareness and through focus of the mind adjust the reception of the brain to different types of frequencies of energy.

The free-will, in this sense, will then be for the individual to shift the focus of the mind towards the types of frequencies of the will instead of going on autopilot. Wait… is this what they meant when they said “God [the creator] Wills it” ?

For fact, I tend to forget names and events easily when I move forward in my life. Knowing that there is no such thing as memory but shifting of brain reception of energy,

I now understand why I tend to forget names and events easily. It simply is because I am so focused at my life at the moment that I tune into that energy only. Meaning to say, I tune out of the old energy.

The topic of Information is another big question of mine… I will keep pondering until I figure it out.


PhD Defense: February 21, 2018

Dear Friends & Family,
I finally did it! After 6 years, I am having my final seminar (PhD defense) on Wednesday, February 21. Please feel free to attend remotely. See below for more info.
Thanks for all your support!
Nilo
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Please find below the announcement of Nilo Sarraf’s PhD final seminar. You are cordially invited to attend the presentation, to be held in-person at the San José State campus and virtually via Zoom. Anyone who is interested is welcome to attend, so please forward as appropriate. Announcement is also attached as a PDF. 

Science and Engineering Faculty – PhD Final Seminar
School of Information Systems – Information Science Discipline

Date:  21 February, 2018 
Time: 
4:00 p.m. (Pacific Time)

Venue: Clark Hall, Room 322, School of Information
San José State University, San Jose CA 95129

Online via Zoom: Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:
https://sjsu.zoom.us/j/3607477007

Speaker: Niloufar Sarraf

Supervisors:
Prof. Virginia Tucker, SJSU External Supervisor
Prof. Sylvia Edwards, QUT,Associate Supervisor
Prof. Ian Stoodley, QUT, Principal Supervisor
Prof. Christine Bruce, JCU, External Supervisor

Review Panel:
Prof. Bill Fisher, SJSU, QUT Adjunct HOS Representative and Panel Chair
Prof. Christine Bruce, External Representative
Prof. Michelle Chen, SJSU Discipline Expert
Prof. Virginia Tucker, External Supervisor

Title
Mapping the Neurophysiological and the Affective Dimensions of the Information Search Process Model

ABSTRACT
The affective and neurological components of information retrieval system design have increasingly become an essential part of research in human-information interaction and interactive information retrieval. These sophisticated processes are composed of not only human cognitive processes but also emotional and neuropsychological (NP) responses. One of the most cited information search process models, the Information Search Process (ISP) model (Kuhlthau, 1991), identified three realms of user experience; affective (feelings), cognitive (thoughts), and physical (actions) realms. While the ISP model identified three dimensions of user experience, it does not include the NP dimension of the brain. Neither does it examine the impact, if any, of emotional states on the NP dimension.

This research contributes three original findings to the field of Information Science, positioned in Neuro Information Science. First, this experimental research discovered and mapped the neurophysiological and the emotional dimensions of information search processes. Second, this thesis connected the dots between the discrete emotions of Kuhlthau’s model (1991), the continuous dimensions of emotion scale of Scherer (2005), and the neurophysiological and emotional aspects of information search processes (Sarraf, 2018). Third, this research contributed to the body of knowledge for detection of dimensions of emotions using EEG devices. 48 participants performed search tasks during neutral, positive, and negative emotional states. This study collected brain frequencies through the Emotiv EEG neuroheadset. The results indicated that there were clear differences in the brain frequencies within different locations of the brain, depending on the ISP stage and the emotional state.

One of the major findings of this study discovered that, regardless of the information search stages and/or emotional states, the dominant active part of the brain was the upper left brain, which primarily handles logical and analytical thoughts. Moreover, this study showed that when investigating (exploration stage) and forming focus (formulation stage) in searching for information, the brain was extremely active, thinking logical/analytical thoughts. But the brain slowed down in logical/analytical thinking when gathering for information (collection stage).

On the other hand, positive feelings harmonized the neural activities of the brain regardless of the stages of information search. During information search stages, the brain activities balanced out, thinking only logical analytical thoughts. Yet negativity affected the brain drastically in that, when investigating information, while the logical/analytical thoughts increased, so did intuition and interpersonal feelings.

This study also connected the discrete emotions and the continuous emotions on the valence-arousal scale. The continuous emotions roughly changed from (a) negative-excited to (b) positive-calm to (c) positive-excited. This study suggest that, the corresponding neurophysiological aspects of the ISP stages change from (a) gamma to (b) gamma to (c) beta in the upper left brain, which handles logical and analytical thinking.

Lastly, this study supported the existing experimental research methods and results when detecting dimensions of emotions using EEG devices. During positive emotional states, beta waves in the upper left brain were the most dominant. During negative emotions, beta and gamma waves were dominant both in the upper left and in the right brain hemisphere.The right brain hemisphere was active with beta and gamma waves when feeling negative emotions and in positive emotions the brain was active in the upper left quadrant eliciting beta waves.

Speaker Background
Niloufar Sarraf has over 10 years of academic and industry user-centered research experience in web and mobile technologies from IBM, Google, Yahoo, Stanford University, VMware, Unity Technologies, and SAP Labs. She is natively interested in how humans interact with everything and is a student of human emotional motivation and sensory cognition, studying how these forces interact with computer and user interfaces. She is a thought leader in the industry with research paper publications and has been invited to speak at BayCHI, iConference, guest lecturing at universities, Cognitive Computing Forum conference, and TTI Vanguard to speak about her doctoral work in the new and emerging discipline of Neuro Information Science.


Final Thesis Abstract: Mapping the Neurophysiological and the Affective Dimensions of the Information Search Process Model

I am in the last stages of my thesis and it feels like a dream come true! It is an extraordinary experience when you approach the finish line, finalizing a six-year doctoral research. My most recent speaking experience was at the TTI Vanguard Conference at the Ritz-Carlton in December 2017. As I am concluding the first draft thesis, I thought of sharing the Abstract here with you. Happy New Year!

ABSTRACT
The affective and neurological components of information retrieval system design have increasingly become an essential part of research in human-information interaction and interactive information retrieval. These sophisticated processes are composed of not only human cognitive processes but also emotional and neuropsychological (NP) responses. One of the most cited information search process models, the Information Search Process (ISP) model (Kuhlthau, 1991), identified three realms of user experience; affective (feelings), cognitive (thoughts), and physical (actions) realms. While the ISP model identified three dimensions of user experience, it does not include the NP dimension of the brain. Neither does it examine the impact, if any, of emotional states on the NP dimension.

This research contributes three original findings to the field of Information Science, positioned in Neuro Information Science. First, this experimental research discovered and mapped the neurophysiological and the emotional dimensions of information search processes. Second, this thesis connected the dots between the discrete emotions of Kuhlthau’s model (1991), the continuous dimensions of emotion scale of Scherer (2005), and the neurophysiological and emotional aspects of information search processes (Sarraf, 2018). Third, this research contributed to the body of knowledge for detection of dimensions of emotions using EEG devices. 48 participants performed search tasks during neutral, positive, and negative emotional states. This study collected brain frequencies through the Emotiv EEG neuroheadset. The results indicated that there were clear differences in the brain frequencies within different locations of the brain, depending on the ISP stage and the emotional state.

One of the major findings of this study discovered that, regardless of the information search stages and/or emotional states, the dominant active part of the brain was the upper left brain, which primarily handles logical and analytical thoughts. Moreover, this study showed that when investigating (exploration stage) and forming focus (formulation stage) in searching for information, the brain was extremely active, thinking logical/analytical thoughts. But the brain slowed down in logical/analytical thinking when gathering for information (collection stage).

On the other hand, positive feelings harmonized the neural activities of the brain regardless of the stages of information search. During information search stages, the brain activities balanced out, thinking only logical analytical thoughts. Yet negativity affected the brain drastically in that, when investigating information, while the logical/analytical thoughts increased, so did intuition and interpersonal feelings.

This study also connected the discrete emotions and the continuous emotions on the valence-arousal scale. The continuous emotions roughly changed from (a) negative-excited to (b) positive-calm to (c) positive-excited. This study suggest that, the corresponding neurophysiological aspects of the ISP stages change from (a) gamma to (b) gamma to (c) beta in the upper left brain, which handles logical and analytical thinking.

Lastly, this study supported the existing experimental research methods and results when detecting dimensions of emotions using EEG devices. During positive emotional states, beta waves in the upper left brain were the most dominant. During negative emotions, beta and gamma waves were dominant both in the upper left and in the right brain hemisphere.The right brain hemisphere was active with beta and gamma waves when feeling negative emotions and in positive emotions the brain was active in the upper left quadrant eliciting beta waves.


Mapping ISP Model’s Neurological Affective Components

Raw EEG

The neurological aspect and component of information retrieval system design is gaining increased attention within the field of Information Science, as it encompasses complicated human brain activities.

 

On one hand, the physiological components hold the physiological human responses, such as heart rate or facial expressions, and on the other hand the neurological components, such as electroencephalogram (EEG), hold the neurological or human brain activities and response. While there are numerous LIS studies that have studied and included the physiological responses, few have examined the neurological components of information seeking processes.

 

Furthermore, the affective component of information retrieval system design is becoming increasingly essential within the field of Information Science, as it encompasses complicated human cognitive processes. Cognitive processes include not only mental processes but also emotion (or affective) processes and responses.  

 

In the field of Psychology, there are two major disciplines of emotions; discrete and continuous emotions. Within the field of LIS the studies that have examined the role of emotions have mainly examined the role of discrete emotions, such as happiness or frustration. However,  few have examined the role continuous emotions, or so called the dimensions of emotions (valence or arousal). Since these are two major types of human emotions, and in order to build a more holistic view of the role of emotions in information seeking processes, it is important to move toward understanding the affective dimension of information retrieval as well.

 

One of the most established theoretical frameworks of information search processes is Carol Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (ISP) model. In this model, through decades of empirical research, Kuhlthau established a six-step model of the holistic experience of the information seekers. These holistic experiences include the affective, cognitive, and physical experiences of the users. Three of these six stages (exploration, formulation, and collection) entail the actual act and process of the users seeking and searching for information using a search system, for example an online search engine. For this reason, this study mainly focuses on these three steps of the information search stages.

 

The goal of this study is to explore and examine the role of the neurological components as well as the dimensions of emotions of information seeking processes, more specifically when it comes to online information search processes, pertaining to the ISP Model. More clearly, this study explores, examines, and maps the neurological components of  the ISP Model and examines the impact of dimensions of emotions on the neurological responses of the ISP model, more specifically when it comes to online information search processes, pertaining to the ISP Model.


EEG Data Process Using EEGLAB on MatLab

P1NT1Many times I have been asked about the way in which I processed and graphed the EEG data that I collected for my doctoral studies. For the purpose of my dissertation, I collected the EEG data using the Emotiv neuroheadset and used the EEGLAB open source software to process and graph the EEG data. In this post, I have simplified the steps that I took in order to process my EEG data. Please note that I self-educated myself by reading through tutorials, forum discussions, help pages, and much much more… I am positioning my doctoral work in the field of Neuro Information Science, which is marriage between neuroscience and information science. By no means do I claim to be a neuroscientist or a medical professional.  Hope this helps some of you out there. Happy EEGLABing!

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I used the EEGLAB software, an interactive Matlab toolbox that is used for processing continuous and event-related EEG data, among others, in order to analyze the EEG data that I had collected for my research experiment. I used EEGLAB because it has been widely used in academia as well as in professional institutions, helping process complex EEG data while providing solid robust graphic user interface of the processed and the analyzed EEG data. Moreover, EEGLAB provided several data visualization graphs that helped me greatly in my work to find and establish patterns of brainwaves during each phase of the ISP model.

More specifically, I installed the EEGLAB Compiled version for Windows OS. Next, I will list the step-by-step ways in which I used EEGLAB to process my EEG data:

  1. Open the EEGLAB software.
  2. Go to the ‘File’ menu and click on ‘Import Data’ from the File menu options. Choose ‘From EDF File’.
  3. Find and choose the EEG data that is an EDF file saved on the hard drive and hit ‘Open’ in order to import it into EEGLAB.
  1. The ‘Load Data Using BIOSIG’ will open.
  2. In the ‘Channel List’ box, type numbers 3 through 16 with one spacebar between each number. This will map the 14 channels of the Emotiv neuroheadset data correctly to the EEGLAB software.
  3. Clic ‘Ok’
  1. Name the file in the field ‘Name It’.
  2. Click ‘Ok’
  1. Go to the ‘Edit’ menu and click on ‘Channel Location’ from the Edit menu options.
  1. Go to the Text Editor of the computer and create a file as shown below. Save as a CED file. These numbers will map the 14 sensor channels of the Emotiv neuroheadset channel locations correctly to the EEGLAB software.
  1. Go back to EEGLAB software and choose the ‘Read Locations’ button. (14location.ced)
  2. Choose the above CED file from your computer and highlight it.
  3. Click ‘Open’
  1. Choose ‘Autodetect’ from the ‘File Format’ menu.
  2. Click ‘Ok’.
  1. Click ‘Ok’.
  1. Go to the ‘Tool’ menu and click on ‘Remove Baseline’ from the Tool menu options.
  1. Click ‘Ok’.
  1. Go to the ‘Tool’ menu and click on ‘Run ICA from the Tool menu options.
  2. Click ‘Ok’.
  1. At this point, you will see a window like this. Depending on the memory of the computer, this part may be time consuming, if the memory is low.
  1. Go to the ‘Plot’ menu and click on ‘Channel Data’ from the Plot menu options.
  1. The brainwaves look like this graph and include outlier data that shows as irregularities in the brainwaves.
  1. Highlight the outliers of the brainwaves. These outliers show as peaks in the brainwaves.
  2. Click on the ‘>>’ button in order to move forward on the screen
  3. Repeat highlighting until the end of the data.
  4. Click ‘Reject’ in order to delete all the highlighted outlier data.
  1. Name this new data set in the field ‘Save it as File’.
  2. Click ‘Ok’.
  1. Go to the ‘Plot’ menu and click on ‘Channel Spectra and Maps’ from the Plot menu options.
  1. In the ‘Frequencies to Plot as Scalp Maps (HZ)’ indicate the desired brainwave frequencies to be graphed and plotted
  2. Click ‘Ok’.
  1. Depending on the chosen brainwave frequencies, such graph will be displayed.
  2. Save this plot as JPG file