Evidence Builds That Meditation Strengthens the Brain, Researchers Say

Evidence builds that meditation strengthens the brain, researchers say March 14, 2012 in Neuroscience Earlier evidence out of UCLA suggested that meditating for years thickens the brain (in a good way) and strengthens the connections between brain cells. Now a further report by UCLA researchers suggests yet another benefit. Transcendental Meditation – Try a method that is effective and natural. Learn the benefits today. – www.TM.org How to do Meditation? – Discover 3 ways how to experience deeper meditation in minutes… – www.omharmonics.com Eileen Luders, an assistant professor at the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, and colleagues, have found that long-term meditators have larger amounts of gyrification (“folding” of the cortex, which may allow the brain to process information faster) than people who do not meditate. Further, a direct correlation was found between the amount of gyrification and the number of meditation years, possibly providing further proof of the brain’s neuroplasticity, or ability to adapt to environmental changes. The article appears in the online edition of the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. The cerebral cortex is the outermost layer of neural tissue. Among other functions, it plays a key role in memory, attention, thought and consciousness. Gyrification or cortical folding is the process by which the surface of the brain undergoes changes to create narrow furrows and folds called sulci and gyri. Their formation may promote and enhance neural processing. Presumably then, the more folding that occurs, the better the brain is at processing information, making decisions, forming memories and so forth. “Rather than just comparing meditators and non-meditators, we wanted to see if there is a link between the amount of meditation practice and the extent of brain alteration,” said Luders. “That is, correlating the number of years of meditation with the degree of folding.” The researchers took MRI scans of 50 meditators, 28 men and 22 women, and compared them to 50 control subjects matched for age, handedness and sex. The scans for the controls were obtained from an existing MRI database, while the meditators were recruited from various meditation venues. The meditators had practiced their craft on average for 20 years using a variety of meditation types — Samatha, Vipassana, Zen and more. The researchers applied a well-established and automated whole-brain approach to measure cortical gyrification at thousands of points across the surface of the brain. They found pronounced group differences (heightened levels of gyrification in active meditation practitioners) across a wide swatch of the cortex, including the left precentral gyrus, the left and right anterior dorsal insula, the right fusiform gyrus and the right cuneus. Perhaps most interesting, though, was the positive correlation between the number of meditation years and the amount of insular gyrification. “The insula has been suggested to function as a hub for autonomic, affective and cognitive integration,” said Luders. “Meditators are known to be masters in introspection and awareness as well as emotional control and self-regulation, so the findings make sense that the longer someone has meditated, the higher the degree of folding in the insula.” While Luders cautions that genetic and other environmental factors could have contributed to the effects the researchers observed, still, “The positive correlation between gyrification and the number of practice years supports the idea thatmeditation enhances regional gyrification.” Provided by University of California – Los...

read more

Music Peace

This is a fulldome show called MUSIC PEACE that was created by Immersive Experience Producer Brian Quandt and Visual Artist Miles Regis.  The piece premiered in the Vortex Dome at THE STATE OF THE ARTS 2011 PRODUCING CHANGE event we hosted at LA Center Studios:...

read more

Not Just for Kids: ‘Chopsticks’

Author Jessica Anthony and designer Rodrigo Corral use words, photographs and the Web in a compelling and inventive tale of teenage love and angst. Chopsticks: A Novel by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral January 29, 2012|By Susan Carpenter, Los Angeles Times The first indication that “Chopsticks” is significantly more than just a novel is its trailer, which encourages readers to watch, listen, feel, look, discover, view and imagine. All of those activities are not only encouraged but enabled in this ambitious and hefty tome that works as a sort of interactive scrapbook. An exercise in multimedia storytelling, “Chopsticks” is a book, but it’s also an iPhone and iPad app peppered with videos, songs and instant messages that bring the story to life in a way that isn’t possible with words alone. “Chopsticks” is a collaboration between author Jessica Anthony and designer Rodrigo Corral, the creative director of Farrar, Straus & Giroux who came up with the covers for bestsellers by Chuck Palahniuk, Jay-Z and others. It isn’t the first novel for young adults to exploit the Web in conjunction with print storytelling, but it is elaborately inventive and compelling. A visual work of fiction told mostly through photographs, “Chopsticks” is an artful love story cloaked in mystery. It opens with a two-page photo of tree branches, followed by another two-page spread of a fence casting prison-bar shadows, and then a collage of TV screen grabs as various newscasters report the disappearance of 17-year-old Glory Fleming. Glory is a world-famous piano prodigy from the Bronx who, we learn from newspaper clippings, was once loved for her fusion of classical music with songs from modern bands such as Pavement and Wilco. According to her many playbills, she’d performed to adoring crowds at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall and was routinely written up in the New Yorker and New York Times. At the time of her disappearance, however, she was living in a mental institution for obsessively hammering out “Chopsticks.” To explain Glory’s disappearance, the book then flashes back to 18 months earlier. Wordlessly, readers enter into Glory’s house, then flip through the family photo album, which feels authentically vintage with its imperfect snapshots of Glory’s small family. At age 8, Glory lost her mother to a motorcycle accident — a tragedy that is underscored in the father-and-daughter Christmas card from 2000 thanking recipients for their “support during this difficult year.” Glory and her family aren’t real, of course. They’re actors, as the credits at the back of the book make clear. But presenting them through photographs lends an authenticity and emotionality to this story of a girl’s descent into madness, which morphs into a romance when a boy named Frank Mendoza moves in next door. It isn’t overtly stated, but based on his airplane boarding pass, a map and the deflated soccer ball and Spanish-language edition of J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye,” Frank is from Argentina. Being incredibly attractive and of the same age, Glory and Frank begin to hang out, despite the disapproval of Glory’s father. Their bond solidifies through a shared love of the arts. Frank is a student at an all boys school, which routinely threatens him with expulsion for his poor grades in everything but drawing and painting. Razorbill: 304 pp., $19.99, ages 12 and...

read more

The New Breed Of Transmedia Companies

Posted on January 26, 2012 by Jane Tappuni One of the things we do at Publishing Technology is help publishers realize the transition from print being based businesses to media businesses. Many book publishers are most of the way there, having made the leap from viewing themselves as businesses who make and sell books, to enterprises who sell and manage intellectual property (IP) or copyright. Publishers’ interest in our systems, which have been designed to be product agnostic,  has been growing exponentially as the landscape changes. But what is even more interesting, is observing how publishers are starting to behave more like media companies, while media outfits are beginning to move into the publishing space. We saw an example of this trend blurring the edges between media conglomerates and publishers earlier this week, when NBC Universal announced that it was launching a publishing arm to complement to its other news and broadcasting activities. Yet this isn’t the only form of increased competition that publishers face. The technology sector itself, in the form of Apple, Google, Amazon etc, has been in the media business for many years. Only last week Apple made what looks to some like a land grab for the US textbook publishing and distribution market when it launched its iBooks 2 platform. In such a febrile environment it’s only natural that big publishers should be falling over themselves to rebrand as fast flexible digital media houses. Out goes the traditional hardback book, in comes a business that slices and dices its IP in manifold ways, producing multi-format content from books to ebooks to apps to enhanced books. To these businesses, tech giants such as Apple and Google can be viewed as opportunities not threats. While tech businesses are expert in creating platforms on which content such as an ebook can be bought, stored and consumed they have much less expertise in terms of what makes a game playable, a film watchable and a book readable. Remember, Rovio created Angry Birds, not Apple. And the need for content to populate these tech ecosystems means publishers publishing in the right formats and channels can extract new revenues and growth from these tech-enabled markets. But how does a publisher know they’re ready to engage with this brave new world? We’ve identified six key factors governing success in digital publishing. 1. Workflow – Are you able to produce thinking in a product agnostic way? Can your systems manage the process of creating multiple products from one IP? 2. Rights – Are your rights in order ? Do you know what they own and what you can sell where? 3. Permissions – The vastly important issue of permissions. Do you have the right permissions cleared, and are you on top of this increasingly important revenue stream? 4. Globality – Digital means global, so are your systems scalable, multi language and multi currency? 5. Distribution – Can you get both types of content – digital and physical – out the door in the right format at high quality? 6. Monetization – Let’s not forget that with digital as well as being able to create multiform, bundled, fragmented any which way content there needs to be thought on how they make money for the content. Digital allows for a 101 ways to change, subscriptions to pay per view. In conclusion The winner in the race to be the new media giants will need to be able to build new ecosystems or risk failure. To achieve this they need quality software, quality content, ease of access, quality packaging or interface and ease of payment. True success will come from realizing these are direct to consumer opportunities....

read more

Tupac @ Coachella

DIGITAL Tupac’s Return Resonates for Advertisers Digital Domain Chief Creative Officer Ed Ulbrich on Bringing the Slain Rapper Back to Life for Coachella By: Riley Wilson Published: April 17, 2012 After 16 years of resting in peace, hip-hop icon Tupac Shakur was resurrected at this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival with the help of his old friends Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg — and a bit of magic from effects powerhouse Digital Domain. The two MCs tapped the creative direction of Chief Creative Officer Ed Ulbrich, along with director Philip Atwell of Geronimo Productions and Dylan Brown of The Yard Entertainment, to bring the rapper back to life for thousands of festival attendees (and another million or so, judging from the online video counts). The hologram was a surprisingly strong and accurate portrayal of Tupac, who was murdered in September 1996. He not only performed two songs, but also seemed very aware of present day — interacting with Snoop Dogg on the stage and even addressing the crowd with, “What the f–k is up, Coachella!” Digital Domain was also behind the Oscar-winning interpretations of an 85- and 25-year-old Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and his less well-received predecessor, Orville Redenbacher, who the shop and director David Fincher re-created for a spot out of Crispin Porter & Bogusky. Clearly technology has advanced a long way since then. On his way from the Coachella madness, Mr. Ulbrich spoke with Creativity about the interpretation of Tupac and how it affects advertisers, marketers and other creatives interesting in using this type of tech.Creativity: Were you at the performance? What was the crowd’s reaction when the hologram appeared? Ed Ulbrich: The crowd went nuts. They went crazy. There was a little bit of a leak late last week, but no one was able to figure it out before the show. You could see people going “whoa.” I don’t think at first people realized it was a hologram. To watch that thing with that audience and see them respond in that way — that made it for me. Creativity: How did this idea come about? Mr. Ulbrich: We’ve been in discussions with Dre and his team a little over a year now. He came to us, but it was for a different application. We were showing him the work we were doing in film, and they had clearly done their homework. [Dr. Dre] has a vision like you can’t imagine. He had a vision for this type of production like nobody I’ve met. Creativity: The Tupac hologram interacted with Snoop Dogg and addressed the crowd. How did you integrate it so well? Mr. Ulbrich: This was not like any old footage of Tupac. This was completely and exclusively made just for Coachella. A synthetic Tupac — this was a digital likeness of Tupac. We’ve been doing things like this for six or seven years now — with “Benjamin Button” and “Tron.” But he had to deliver a performance and interact with Snoop. There was no margin of error for him. It had to be him. We had to have him deliver a performance that felt authentic. If I go into the technical details, I don’t think it would be as interesting, but I will say that we weren’t using existing footage. The voice . . . that is the magic of Dr. Dre and Snoop. Dre and Snoop spent a long time on it. They were working on the voice and the music well before we got involved with this project for Coachella. Creativity: What were some interesting challenges in producing this? How does this compare to your usual work?...

read more