Nov 07 2008 Posted: 00:00 GMT
University of Memphis psychology expert Dr Rick Dale is to give a public lecture at NUI Galway on his experiments using the Nintendo Wii to investigate how people think and make decisions. The event will be hosted by NUI Galway's School of Psychology on Wednesday, 12 November, at 7.30pm in the Siobhan McKenna Theatre in the Arts Millennium Building. Apart from being a popular videogame entertainment device, the Nintendo Wii has also been adapted to use for physical therapy and as a form of exercise. Dr Dale and his team took the Nintendo a step further to begin to explore the relationship between the mind and the body. He says: "The Wiimote is in fact the perfect interface to perform these kinds of experiments. As the game itself is already designed to absorb a person's body into the videogame experience, we just have to hook the Wiimote into a lab computer, and we can enjoy the rich streaming data that videogames typically use, but this time track them in experiments". Until recently, many psychologists concluded that thinking and acting were managed by relatively separate subsystems in the human mind. This was reflected in the way that when we make decisions, most of us feel like we think and then act. Dr Dale's research shows the systems that control thinking and those that control action are actually deeply intertwined. He explains: "We often begin to act before we think, even when making relatively simple decisions. Some might say that we even think through our actions". One of the experiments at the University of Memphis showed that people have a 'bias toward truth' in that there is a natural tendency to believe things are true. Participants in the experiment used the Wiimote to answer Yes or No to questions such as 'Can a kangaroo walk backwards?'. The results showed that it took longer for participants to decide that a statement was false, rather than true. In many cases, the cursor travelled first toward the yes, and then curved over to no. For the researchers, this indicated two things. Firstly, the body was in motion before the cognitive processing was completed. Secondly, the participants really wanted to believe most of the statements were true, even though they decided quickly that some of them were not. Dr Dale's visit to Ireland is hosted by NUI Galway and supported by the Irish Research Council on the Humanities and the Social Sciences. For further information on the public lecture contact Denis O Hora at the NUI Galway School of Psychology on 091 495126.