2012 in review

OK, here’s the year in numbers re Synchronised Minds. Thank you all for visiting. Shouldn’t be too hard to beat these stats next year… ūüôā

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,700 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 6 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

AcWriMo summing up

Wow, that was a fast month…

So, my academic writing month started a bit late, and it also ended a week early, as I got the chance to attend a one-week MEG training session by Elekta. This was an intensive full-time course with lots of lectures and hands-on sessions, which basically meant that I had no time nor energy to write anything after the approximately 9 hours of training per day.

This probably sounds like I’m building an excuse to not have met my AcWriMo goals?

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Response from BBC

Local people

Local People, (c) BBC

Last week, I protested the decision made by BBC Eastern to axe the Naked Scientists radio show. Today, I got a reply from the BBC to my email.

Dear Mr Himberg

Reference *removed*

Thank you for your contact to the Head of Regional and Local Programmes for the East region, who has forwarded your concerns to Audience Services to respond to about the future of the ‚ÄėNaked Scientists‚Äô programme.

The show is a specialist science programme that succeeds in communicating challenging and difficult scientific ideas in an accessible and engaging way. This is a key commitment the BBC needs to continue to maintain. But no single show can be the sole way to measure whether that commitment is discharged. The BBC is very committed to providing high quality science content on all platforms. This content reaches more than 40 million people in the UK a year. The BBC works with the world’s most influential scientists to produce high quality science series that engage the audience while tackling everything from thermodynamics to information theory, artificial intelligence and the origins of life.

Over the past few weeks BBC Four has dedicated an entire season of programmes to some of the most complicated science subjects on television with Seven Ages of Starlight, the Science of Chance, and Order and Disorder with Jim Al-Khalili. The BBC has long-standing science strands like Horizon on TV and radio programmes like the Infinite Monkey Cage. And the BBC now has a Science Editor for the first time to try to ensure the most important developments in science are reported across BBC news and factual programmes.

So why has the east region chosen to end the Naked Scientists programme? The decision is editorial; the show doesn’t fit the local radio brief. Local radio’s editorial role is to report local stories, local events and reflect local communities. The Naked Scientists, while excellent in reporting science, isn’t really a local radio programme at all as it doesn’t fit that core local editorial function. That’s not to say local radio shouldn’t report science-it should but its primary responsibility is to report local science. Our aim is to ensure that we do even better in reporting science in our mainstream output especially on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire with its obvious connections to science at the University, research institutes and scientific industries. We’re speaking to the Naked Scientists team about how they can help us in this ambition. We’re also speaking to other parts of the BBC to explore how the Naked Scientists team can have a role in creating science content.

We will be developing and strengthening our science reporting capacity across our mainstream output to reflect the significance of science in the area. Listeners will hear more science stories in the parts of the schedule with the biggest audiences.

We‚Äôre sorry you’re losing a show you value highly but we hope you find other parts of the BBC’s extensive science output just as valuable.

I‚Äôd also like to assure you I’ve registered your complaint on our audience log. This is an internal report of audience feedback which we compile daily and is available for viewing by all our staff. This includes all station controllers and commissioning executives, along with our senior management. It ensures that your points, along with all other comments we receive, are considered across the BBC.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

Kind Regards

Philip Boyce

BBC Complaints


NB This is sent from an outgoing account only which is not monitored. You cannot reply to this email address but if necessary please contact us via our webform quoting any case number we provided.

Again, the strange notion of “local”. Yes, they do interview researchers also from other universities but Cambridge. How about the recent episode on vitamin D? Yeah, not local as such, they interviewed Elina Hypp√∂nen from UCL (a Finn, yay!) and other experts, all from outside the region, but given that approximately 90% of Brits have a deficiency of vitamin D, and that the deficiency might have dire consequences (e.g. diabetes and MS are linked to low levels of vitamin D), I’d think that this would have been necessary and relevant information for people in the Eastern UK? This is just one example, but this whole case demonstrates how the actual problem is either the brief or the people who decide to interpret in this inane way. Too bad that the world does not unproblematically fit BBC’s box diagram of briefs and responsibilities. I sure hope they will also enforce this with the same rigor in their other programming, including the music they play. There’s a lot of great music coming from the Eastern region, it is great that they now have a radio channel that is committed to exclusively policing that they will not let music from outside the region to pollute their airwaves. (Yeah right.)

Week 1 of the Academic Writing Month

Or, it has actually been 11 days, but I started a bit late, so this was the first full week for me.

In the previous post, I said I’d be working on three papers and the thesis. I’ve got the Current Study, the Recent Study, and the Old Study. Of the Current Study, I wanted to achieve a full draft that I could send forward internally to others in the group. Here I’m not going to be the first author, but have promised to draft some bits. In the Recent study, we already have a draft but it requires heavy editing and possibly some analysis, and the aim was to be able to submit this by the end of the month. Finally, the Old Study is something I’ve sat on for a while, it’s a part of the thesis and just needs to be spun off as an article.

So, here’s what happened on the first week.

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Write here, write now. Scrivener.

Right. Here we go. November is a month of campaigns. Some people neglect taking proper care of their facial hair to raise awareness of prostate cancer, some others have decided it should be the month of writing books. The National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo for short) has been around since 1999, and last year 256 618 people took part, with 36 843 people reaching the 50 000 word goal. Loads of schools are taking part, as well. The point is to take advantage of the usually foul weather and churn out text by writing every day, and logging your progress on the website, and making noise about the whole thing in the social media while you are at it.

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Innovative methods

Typewriter keys

Putting together a setup for an experiment is one of my favourite parts of the research process. I suppose it is because it is practical work, providing a nice balance to the usual sitting in front of the computer for hours and hours -routine that most of the rest of the process consists of. Also, it is the point where usually a lot of abstract planning gets its physical form – a moment of birth, in a way. Emotions are involved, usually frustration as things do not work, but in the end also satisfaction and sense of accomplishment when they finally do.

A very nerdy confession: I like to read the methods and especially the apparatus sections in research papers. Even if the study itself is strong mainly in meh-ness, there might be clever bits in the way the study was conducted. And, a lot of very clever stuff was done before everything was done with computers.

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Online learning

Coursera Machine Learning course logo

In addition to trying to learn how the MEG works and how the brain works and how to put the two together, I’m beefing up my data analysis skills with a few MOOCs from Coursera. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course, and they are all the rage recently. And not for nothing, as they will if not revolutionise university learning, at least help to¬†flip the lecture halls, level the playing field of higher education and help out thousands of PhD students around the world. We were just discussing this with a colleague, how many hours we could have saved as first your PhD students if we had these online courses back then! Filling in all the gaps in stats, basic psychology or whatever it is that you now realise you need but never learned as an undergrad is so easy with these open online courses. Continue reading

Learning the brain


OK folk(s), Synchronised Minds turns a new page, along with me starting a new job. I’ll update the info to the about section etc. as soon as possible, but the news is that I’m now working at the Brain Research Unit of the O.V. Lounasmaa Laboratory in the Aalto University. I’m still working on the synchronised minds, although now moving into looking at synchronised brains as well as synchronised bodies, as an evidence of that mindsync. ūüôā

I’m working on a project called Brain2Brain, which is an ERC-funded attempt to develop two-person neuroscience (2PN); that is, methods and approaches to study dyads, interacting people, instead of isolated individuals. This is unbelievable exciting and to me a dream job. Although of course it is challenging, as I have not done neuroscientific studies before. I’ve been a participant in many of them, have read many of the papers and even taught my students about the findings, but of course planning and executing a brain study is a different thing. Luckily there is a lot of experienced people around me, so I don’t have to do these alone.

But, I have to learn a lot about the brain and how to study it. I think with the proliferation of neuroscience to all human sciences and also the growing public interest on the topic, it might be of more general interest to figure out how one can learn about the brain. Here are some resources that I’ve found useful in my attempt to gain a better understanding of how the brain works and how it can be studied. Continue reading

Suomi – musiikin havaitsemisen tutkimuksen suurvalta?

Music perception cover

Music perception on monitieteisen musiikintutkimuksen keskeinen ja arvostettu lehti. MP on toiminut kognitiivisen musiikintutkimuksen julkaisukanavana 80-luvun alkupuolelta lähtien, ja monet sen artikkeleista ovat tieteenalan keskeistä lukemistoa. Lehden vaikuttavuuskerroin on 1.742, mikä on pienen tutkimusalan lehdelle varsin hyvä. Laskennallista kerrointa tärkeämpää on kuitenkin, että lehti on todella korkeatasoinen, sen toimituskunta tekee huolellista työtä, vertaisarviointi on perusteellinen, ja ko. lehdessä julkaisemista pidetään alalla meriittinä.

Tästä syystä onkin hienoa, että lehden artikkelit on otettu systemaattiseen tarkasteluun. Suuren työn ovat tehneet Anna Tirovolas ja ohjaajansa Dan Levitin. He ovat käyneet läpi kaikki Music Perception -lehdessä julkaistut empiiriset artikkelit (384 kpl) vuosilta 1983-2010 (lehden perustamisesta tutkimuksen tekohetkeen) ja luokitelleet ne. Tutkimusdata ja luokitteluavain löytyvät esimerkillisesti verkosta.

Datasta l√∂ytyy paljon mielenkiintoisia asioita esimerkiksi k√§ytettyjen koeteht√§vien, √§rsykkeiden, musiikillisen materiaalin ja koehenkil√∂iden osalta. Valtaosa tutkimuksista on k√§ytt√§nyt klassista musiikkia (51%), aikuisia (95%) ja/tai musiikillisesti koulutettuja (75%) koehenkil√∂it√§ ja havaitsemisteht√§vi√§ (74%). T√§m√§ vahvistaa alan sis√§ll√§ olevat k√§sitykset “perinteisest√§” musiikkipsykologisesta tutkimuksesta. Kiinnostavasti yksitt√§isten √§√§nten k√§ytt√∂ v√§heni, puheen ja visuaalisten √§rsykkeiden k√§ytt√∂ nousi ajan my√∂t√§. Klassisen musiikin k√§yt√∂ll√§ oli my√∂s laskeva (mutta ei tilastollisesti merkitsev√§) trendi. Sen sijaan aineistosta ei havaittu, ett√§ musiikin havaitsemisen vs. tuottamisen k√§ytt√∂ tutkimuksen mittaristossa olisi muuttunut ajan my√∂t√§. T√§t√§ tosin selitt√§√§ ehk√§ lehden nimi ja fokus, musiikin esitt√§misen tutkimusta ja esimerkiksi musiikkia ja liikett√§ koskevaa tutkimusta on ehk√§ raportoitu enemm√§n muualla.Tutkimusaiheista melodian ja s√§velkorkeuden havaitsemisen tutkimus on hiljalleen antanut tilaa rytmin ja ajoituksen tutkimukselle, joka on emootiotutkimuksen ohella tehnyt nousua viime vuosina. My√∂s MP:n kaikkein lainatuin artikkeli on rytmiin liittyv√§, Povel & Essensin klassikko “Perception of Temporal Patterns“, jonka rytmikuvioluokittelua on k√§ytetty apuna useissa alan tutkimuksissa.

Tutkimusryhmässämme on ehkä eniten riemastusta aiheuttanut kuitenkin osio, jossa tarkastellaan, mistä maasta tutkimukset ovat peräisin. Valtaosa Music Perception -lehden artikkeleista on peräisin lehdenkin kotimaasta USA:sta, mikä ei sinänsä yllätä. Tirovolasin ja Levitinin laboratorion kotipaikka Kanada sijoittuu tässä tilastossa kakkoseksi ennen Iso-Britanniaa, Hollantia ja Ranskaa. Suomi sijoittuu kärkikymmenikköön yhdeksänneksi ennen Ruotsia. USA on ylivoimainen, sen tuotanto on miltei yhtä suuri kuin kaikkien muiden yhteensä. Mutta, tarkasteltaessa tutkimusten määriä suhteutettuna maan väkilukuun, nousee yksi ylitse muiden:

Musiikin havaitsemistutkimukset maan väkilukuun suhteutettuna

Jee! Hyvä Suomi! Ja hyvä meidän huippuyksikkö!

Torilla tavataan

Torilla tavataan!

Tirovolas ja Levitin toteavat, ett√§ Suomen huikea ykk√∂ssija on pitk√§lti Mari Tervaniemen ja Petri Toiviaisen ja heid√§n tutkimusryhmiens√§ ansiota. Ladunavaajana toimi Mari Tervaniemi, jonka artikkeli “Absolute pitch and event-related brain potentials” (Tervaniemi, Alho, Paavilainen, Sams & N√§√§t√§nen) julkaistiin 1993. Seuraavana listassa onkin jo Toiviaisen ja Tervaniemen yhteisty√∂n tulos “Timbre similarity: Convergence of neural, behavioral, and computational approaches“, jossa mukana kirjoittajina my√∂s Louhivuori, Saher, Huotilainen ja N√§√§t√§nen. Petrin vuonna 1995 Music Perceptioniin kirjoittama artikkeli ei ole tilastoissa mukana, koska se perustuu hermoverkkosimulaatioon eik√§ koehenkil√∂iden k√§ytt√∂√∂n, eik√§ se siten t√§yt√§ Tirovolasin ja Levitinin kriteereit√§ “empiirisest√§” tutkimuksesta.

Mielenkiintoinen artikkeli, vaikka se perustuukin vain yhden lehden sis√§lt√∂√∂n eik√§ siten anna kattavaa kuvaa koko tieteenalasta. √Ą√§riviivoja se kuitenkin piirt√§√§ ja tietysti on hieno n√§hd√§ my√∂s, ett√§ suomalainen tutkimus on t√§ll√§ alalla m√§√§r√§llisesti maailman huipulla. Toki se on sit√§ my√∂s laadullisesti, eih√§n niit√§ huippuyksikk√∂statuksia turhasta my√∂nnet√§. ūüôā

ResearchBlogging.org Tirovolas, A., & Levitin, D. (2011). Music Perception and Cognition Research from 1983 to 2010: A Categorical and Bibliometric Analysis of Empirical Articles in

Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 29 (1), 23-36 DOI: 10.1525/mp.2011.29.1.23

Syksyä kohti

Harmaa meri

Blogi her√§√§ taas hiljaiselon j√§lkeen… Erityisesti loppukes√§ oli kirjoittamisen aikaa, v√§it√∂skirjan hahmoa tuli nakuteltua esiin siit√§ graniittilohkareesta, jolta se projekti viel√§ kev√§√§ll√§kin n√§ytti. Tietokone talttana ja oma otsa vasarana, l√§pi harmaan kiven jne.

Syksy tarkoittaa tietysti my√∂s uutta akateemista vuotta, uusia opiskelijoita ja uusia kursseja. Ker√§ilen opetukseen ja tutkimukseen liittyvi√§ juttuja t√§h√§n blogiin t√§n√§kin vuonna, sen verran mink√§ voimavarat ja aika my√∂ten antavat. Vuoden kurssiuutuuksia ovat Opintojen suunnittelu (MUSY001) sek√§ Musiikillinen kommunikaatio: musiikin esitt√§minen (MUSA061). “Klassikot” eli Tieteellisen tutkimuksen perusteet (MUPP011) ja Kognitiivisen musiikintutkimuksen perusteet (MUSP041) ovat t√§n√§kin vuonna ohjelmassa. Viime vuonna k√§ynnistetty Musiikin sosiaalinen kognitio (MUSS044) on suoritettavissa oppimisteht√§vin.

Kuten aiemminkin, käytän kurssien koodeja postausten tunnisteina, näin ollen esimerkiksi kategoria- tai tagipilvestä tuossa oikeassa sivupalkissa pitäisi helposti löytää kaikki tiettyä kurssia koskevat postaukset.

Tänä vuonna uudistetaan musiikin laitoksen opetussuunnitelmat. Tämä OPS-työ on jo käynnistynyt ja lähtee liikkeelle FM- ja HuK-tutkintojen yleistavoitteista. Tältä osin saamme suuntaviivoja myös tiedekunnalta, mutta oppiaineessa täytyy tietysti nämä lähtökohdat miettiä itse. Näistä yleistavoitteista johdetaan sitten opintokokonaisuuksien ja yksittäisten opintojaksojen tavoitteet. Lisäksi on tarkoitus suunnitella kurssien kuormittavuus ja mitoitus aiempaa paremmin. Tässä työssä alumnien ja nykyisten opiskelijoiden osallistuminen on tietysti valtavan tärkeää. Palaan tämän työn etenemiseen blogissa vuoden aikana.

Sosiaalisen median ja tietoteknisten ty√∂kalujen hy√∂dynt√§minen niin opetuksessa kuin tutkimuksessakin jatkuu edelleen ja kokeiluja t√§ll√§ saralla tehd√§√§n t√§n√§kin vuonna. Uutena v√§lineen√§ on mukaan tullut Google+, jonka opetusk√§ytt√∂√§ kokeillaan Opintojen suunnittelu -kurssilla. Wikit ja muut ovat aiempien kokemusten rohkaisemana edelleen mukana. N√§iden kokeilujen yhten√§ tarkoituksena on edist√§√§ vuorovaikutusta paitsi kurssien “sis√§ll√§” my√∂s niiden ulkopuolelle. Eli t√§m√§nkin vuoksi toivon t√§h√§nkin blogiin paljon kommentteja ja kysymyksi√§.

Innokasta syksyn alkua!