Today, I ran the second subject for my experiment - this time it went smoothly. I'm a bit worried that I'll have trouble getting enough extra slots to get this experiment done as quickly as I want to - apparently the scanner is heavily booked for the foreseeable future and the only slots I can be sure of are those guaranteed to our research group. Fortunately, subjects seem to be coming out of the woodwork for my study, which means that hopefully I'll have a low drop rate..
While at BIRC, I spoke again with Kwan-Jin (technical director of the centre and a really bright guy) - I haven't seen him for a few months, and I've always found him to be an interesting and friendly person to talk to. He mentioned that at a recent conference he went to, discussion of simultaneously acquiring data from different types of brain imaging techniques was a hot topic. One example of this is MRI and EEG. For those of you not in the field, MRI measures oxygen consumption in various parts of the brain through the interaction of a standing field and periodic RF pulses (oxygenated blood and deoxygenated blood have different magnetic properties). The frequency of these pulses limits the temporal resolution (how long between images of the brain, or the refresh-rate for CS geeky folk). EEG measures differences in potential through different parts of the brain through use of electrodes placed on the head surface. EEG has a very attractive temporal resolution (practically instantaneous), but it's a dark art trying to map those differences in potential to actual brain regions. For my studies, which capture 34 2mm-thick slices of brain, the best TR I can get is 2 seconds, meaning every two seconds I get a distinct image composed of temporally interleaved slices of the brain over the last two seconds. The data I get has reasonably good spatial resolution though. The idea of collecting two or more modes of data that correlate to brain activity have the potential, pasted together well, to improve on the difficulties of each individual technique - I was initially skeptical of the possibility of doing this, especially because the MRI would interfere with the EEG, but there has apparently been research suggesting that the net effect can be deconvolved fairly cleanly given the well-known EM environment of a scanner. I've been thinking about how this might relate to the idea I had about a year ago regarding sub-TR resolution - it's obvious that it can be used as a sanity check, but I'm exploring more clever things that could be done. I should look up some papers on this - brain imaging technology is almost as interesting to me as the brain itself, and because my background is more in CS than Psychology, it's considerably lower-hanging fruit for me.
Bruchetta's gave me lots of complementary food for some reason when I swung by there for dinner - I suspect it's because they recognised me, or because they had extra stuff.. The Beehive has very good Golden Nepal tea. It seems that I've had a number of pleasant days on the southside, but as always, getting back means waiting at an awkward bus stop for far longer than I'd like (sometimes more than two hours).
I've been thinking about whether philosophy is much lessened by it not being shared - how much of it is a personal journey versus one that can or should be shared.. I realise that blogging has kept me from spending much time talking about my conclusions in philosophy as they evolve - in one sense, it's scraping a finger across the surface of the skull (like an EEG) rather than digging in deep. Every so often I have a conversation where I talk about deeper things - is it a failure not to jot these down? I'm not sure..
I'm trying to decide if I really need x86 compatibility on my laptop - so far I'm doing well with just amd64 applications, and having both versions of many packages does take a lot of additional space. Also, I'm amused that several people I pointed Google at for possible headhunting seem reasonably likely to be plucked up. I wonder whether they didn't like my technical skills (possible, even if my ego about such matters makes it hard to accept), that I felt I honestly had to describe myself as not being much for social/team stuff, or my lack of interest in working for them in the United States... I suppose that's one of the things one doesn't normally hear back about.
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I'm still undecided whether to do soccer or go to the rabbi discussion tomorrow at the JCC. Anyone in Pgh want to come with for the latter?