Can Machines Have Feelings?

Robot with Feeling

Of course not is the intuitive and immediate answer that this question would most likely get. But let’s not be so fast. There is a field in computing called Affective Computing whose goal is to create machines that can detect and interpret human emotions. It uses the appraisal theory of emotions as its guide. This theory is one of the most influential theories of emotions and it is able to bridge the gap between emotions and the symbolic reasoning process favored by the builders of artificial intelligence (AI).

Appraisal Theory

According to the Appraisal Theory, humans determine how they feel about a certain event and entity using a series of template evaluation process. First, we evaluate how novel or familiar something is. Then, we weigh how likely it is to cause a positive or a negative experience in congruence with our goals. Then we evaluate our coping potential: can we influence and control it, can we change it in ways that makes it beneficial to us. Our brains ultimately translate this series of evaluations into a certain feeling towards the event or entity. If it is something familiar, pleasant, reasonably controllable, and congruent with our goals, we are likely to experience positive emotions towards it. If it is something new, unpleasant, out of control, and incongruent with our goals, we are likely to hate it.

So What Does This Mean For Machines?

If the emotional process can be broken down into a series of evaluations with more or less binary outcomes (novel/familiar, controllable/uncontrollable, etc.), then these operations can be performed not just by a human but by a machine too. If we could develop algorithms parallel to the process human brains use to make decisions about familiarity, valence, controllability, and goal congruence, the process through which an emotion is created can be performed by a machine.

Admittedly, we are a long way from the moment when a machine will feel happy or scared, but the Appraisal Theory of emotions provides a roadmap for how we can teach machines to process human emotions.

Stay tuned to learn how machines can learn to detect and interpret human emotions.

Want To Exercise Your Own Emotional & Cognitive Intelligence?

Fit Brains Games

In the meantime, exercise all the areas of your brain with Fit Brains fun and stimulating brain games. Challenge memory, speed of thinking and more today.

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Do Your Brain A Favor And Quit Your Job!

How a new job can give your brain a boost!

Quit your job! Quit your job? Bold advice, but according to some experts, it might be what your brain needs!  However, before you start picturing yourself in sweatpants with a remote in hand, the story does not end by quitting your job only to laze away your days. Sorry to disappoint. Let’s rephrase this.  Quit your job and get a different job!  But wait, why should I quit a job that I know how to do and am perfectly good at only to have to learn a new job?  Because doing something new and challenging for your brain is good for it.

A recent article published in The Atlantic Magazine, presents the case for how quitting your job in order to challenge yourself with a new job that comes with new training and new skills can help keep your brain challenged and stimulated, which is good for your brain (and your satisfaction with life in general) in the long run.  While it sounds intimidating (not to mention a lot of work to quit one job only to find another one), according to the article, “But, if you want to thrive in the years ahead, a new challenge, and a new purpose, may be the things your brain needs most.” (Hagerty, 2016) Experts suggest that for many adults, this challenge and purpose can come from their job.

Don’t have a job?  Learning a new skill in general, or taking up a new hobby are other ways you can keep your brain active, challenged and engaged!  Tennis lessons, piano lessons, or a new language, are just a few examples of hobbies that can give you a new lease on life and stimulate your brain too.

Fit Brain’s own Dr. Paul Nussbaum is one expert interviewed for the article.  The author writes, “Paul Nussbaum, a neuropsychologist and co-founder of the brain-training company Fit Brains, notes that after you have mastered a skill, be it balancing the company’s books or (in my case) writing a four-minute radio story, that skill becomes ‘overly learned.’” Nussbaum acknowledges the challenge and stress that can come with learning a new skill, but reassures that “Soon, however, you will develop new neural circuits, and your brain will thank you for the effort.” (Hagerty, 2016)  

So, even if you aren’t inspired to quit your job just yet, we hope this can inspire you to find a way to keep purpose and challenge in your life.  You’ll feel better and so will your brain!   And, if you want to challenge and entertain your brain with much less commitment, try a FREE TRIAL of Fit Brains fun brain games!  Fit Brains games will give your brain “smart” entertainment. Challenge your Memory, Focus, Logic, Speed of Thinking, Language and Visual-Spatial Recognition skills with a Fit Brains FREE TRIAL!

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Reference: Hagerty, Barbara Bradley. (2016) “Quit Your Job”. The Atlantic Magazine. 317(3), 22-24.

Improve your brain health with the MIND diet

Woman eating fruit saladWhen most people hear the word “diet” they probably tend to think “difficult” or “impossible”, but most of us probably don’t expect that a diet is going to be easy to follow!  A diet is something we do because it’s good for us and we want to make some change in our health or our appearance, but not generally because it’s fun and easy.  That is about to change, thanks to the new MIND diet (short for Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay).  

This diet is reportedly tied for first place as the easiest diet to follow, according to US News & World Report. (US News & World Report, 2015).  Like the name suggests, this is a diet that is also good for your brain, and is specifically designed to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.  In a study at the Rush University Medical Center, scientists found that “…the MIND diet lowered Alzheimer’s risk by about 35 percent for people who followed it moderately well and up to 53 percent for those who adhered to it rigorously.” (US News & World Report, 2015)  

A diet that can improve your brain health, help prevent Alzheimer’s AND is the easiest diet to follow?

So what exactly is the MIND diet?

It is a combination of the popular Mediterranean diet (think primarily plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains), and the DASH diet (again, emphasis on fruits and vegetables, no dairy).

Specifically, according to a report in US News & World Report, “The emphasis is on eating from 10 brain-healthy food groups: green leafy vegetables in particular, all other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine.”  With this diet you’ll need to “avoid foods from the five unhealthy groups: red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheeses, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.”

So, even if “diet” didn’t make your list of 2016 resolutions, this is one that won’t be hard to follow and is well worth it for better brain health!

Whether or not you decide to try the MIND diet, you can try playing brain games just to challenge yourself by playing fun games!  Have fun while you give your brain some exercise! And, Fit Brains has more games and more variety than any other brain training program.  Give Fit Brains a try today!

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And, follow us throughout the year to learn more about how to improve your brain health and maximize your potential in 2016!

Fit Brains. “Brain Training Success”

Source: “MIND Diet”. US News & World Report. 2015. Retrieved from http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/mind-diet

Introducing Our Brand New Emotional Intelligence Game!

Team Builder Games

We are excited to introduce our brand new brain training game, Team Builder!  Have fun honing your Social Skills!  

How to Play Team Builder?

Study all available candidates. Consider each person’s habits and preferences and create the perfect team. This game focuses on your ability to leverage emotional information to make better decisions with others. Touch and drag a person’s photo onto the board. Touch Submit when you’re done. Can you create the best team?

How does Team Builder stimulate your Emotional Intelligence?

Team Builder is a brain training game created to stimulate Social Skills. By asking you to consider the habits and preferences of others to form a strong team and master the game, you are training your ability to use these same important skills in your daily life.  Social Skills are the ability to leverage emotional information to make better decisions and facilitate stronger social bonds. Social skills apply to many aspects of our life, a large part being in the workplace, but also among friends and family.

Key Benefits of Emotional Intelligence:

  • Stronger Relationships
  • Better Decision Making
  • Main Predictor of Job Success
  • Higher Salary Potential

Try Fit Brains new Team Builder game today! Download our Free app now! You’ll love the results!

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“Brain Training Success”

We wish you a Happy, Healthy Brain in the New Year!

new year's coupleIt’s almost the start of a new year and it’s time to be decisive.  What are your plans and dreams for 2016? No matter what you want your year to be like and no matter what you want to achieve or become, the health and functioning of your brain will play a critical role in your success. In fact, brain health plays such an important role in our health and happiness that it’s predicted to be one of 2016’s hottest topics!  With that in mind, we’ve rounded up some of the most intriguing new brain boosts on the scene that will get your brain off to a healthy start this year!      

  1. Want a touch of rebellion with your brain boost?  According to Nutritional Outlook, the “Boost Your Mind” shot (contains magnesium and zinc among other minerals) created by Jungbunzlauer out of Basel Switzerland, “promotes normal cognitive function, reduction of tiredness and fatigue, plus a normal energy-yielding metabolism.
  2. Who doesn’t want to enjoy a fun, soda-esque beverage guilt free?  You’re in luck…UK based Food Manufacture magazine reports that brain health drinks may be the new energy drink (think ginseng, blueberries and chamomile in soft drink formula)!
  3. Also, look for brain boosting products from nature, such as a powdered bark extract and cocoon silk.  One example reported in an article by Nutritional Outlook is Sabroxy, a new powdered bark extract from Sabinsa with an ingredient that “improves levels of Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF)”.  Ultimately this protein plays a role in memory processing and brain function.  And there is Fibrin, a peptide within the cocoon silk shows benefits for “memory, learning and overall cognitive function”.     

Not so sure about throwing back mineral shots and ingesting bark or cocoon silk? There is always Fit Brains engaging brain games that can add some fun into your regular brain health regimen!  With more games and variety than any other brain training program, this is one that is a must try!  Try the FREE TRIAL of Fit Brains today.

Whatever you choose, you’re bound to have a happier, healthier and more successful 2016 if you focus on improving the health of your brain!  Stay tuned for more from our blog every week so that you can be your best in 2016!

Happy New Year!

The Fit Brains Team

Fit Brains. Brain Training Success.