There has been much chatter recently about the new found potential of "big data". Google NGram for example, tracks usage of words in books and Google Flu Trends does what it says on the tin. The vast quantities of data that are now available enable new possibilities for experimenting with data in a way that would have been inconceivable a decade ago. Only this week a study has been published which demonstrates the potential of web search data to signal previously unknown side effects of medications.
A new project that will be officially announced on Monday aims to collect a previously unprecedented amount of data on the way we think and feel through an application that is being made available for smart phones and tablets. The researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL aim to shed new light on "our understanding of memory, impulsivity, how we take risks, and how well the mind's eye can see". The researchers hope to draw in huge numbers of participants by "gamifying" their study - offering it in the format of an app consisting of four games - one on memory, one to test impulsiveness, one to look at happiness and one to examine the phenomenon of "brain blink" - the difficulty we have seeing an image that is flashed in quick succession after another image.
The Great Brain Experiment app has just become available for free on the iPhone and
it will soon also be available on Android. The app is being released as part of wonder: art and science, a month long series of events being put on by the Wellcome Trust at the Barbican in London - so if you are able to get to London in the next month it's well worth checking out the programme, I'll certainly be stopping by!
Image Credit: Wellcome Trust