Observations from 53rd Annual Meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research in Florence, Italy

The first panel discussion, poster session, and opening reception were held today for the 53rd annual meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research in Florence, Italy.

In the panel discussion, several professors from U.S. undergraduate universities discussed challenges to creating and running psychophysiological labs. The top challenge was one shared by universities around the world – obtaining funding to purchase equipment and run experiments. The world economic downturn has hurt researchers in the U.S. and abroad with few exceptions so investigators who once might have turned to the federal government for funding through research grants are seeking new avenues. These include working with collaborators within academic institutions and external funding sources such as crowd-sourcing, non-profit organizations and for-profit companies.

In the first of four poster sessions, investigators of over 150 research studies described their methods and results to inquisitive passersby. Topics varied from clinical applications, such as mechanisms driving cognitive impairment in combat military personnel or auditory processing difficulties in infants born to anxious mothers, to the more applied and light-hearted, such as how to improve one’s golf game using biofeedback. I was particularly interested in a study that compared a new low-cost wireless EEG system to a "state-of-the art" laboratory system.  The authors of "A Small Wireless EEG System To Go: P300 BCI Performance with a Traditional Amplifier" suggest that no consumer-available wireless EEG system presently exists that records quality data. Stefen Debener, Markus Kroesen, Reiner Emkes, and Maarten de Vos have merged equipment from two low-cost EEG systems, combining the best qualities of both, to create a wireless system that performs as well as expensive wired lab EEG technology. I look forward to seeing more from these scientists from the University of Oldenburg, Germany.