Thursday, December 11, 2014

Got a Minute? Let’s Work Out

According to a lovely new study, a single minute of intense exercise, embedded within an otherwise easy 10-minute workout, can improve fitness and health.
Just one minute.
Link

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Retinal-scan analysis can predict advance of macular degeneration, study finds

n the study, the Stanford team analyzed data from 2,146 scans of 330 eyes in 244 patients seen at Stanford Health Care over a five-year period. They found that certain key features in the images, such as the area and height of drusen, the amount of reflectivity at the macular surface and the degree of change in these features over time, could be weighted to generate a patient’s risk score. Patients were followed for as long as four years, and predictions of the model were compared with actual instances of progression to wet AMD. The model accurately predicted every occurrence of progression to the wet stage within a year. About 40 percent of the time when the model did predict progression to wet AMD within a year, the prediction was not borne out.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Microsoft Develops Navigation System for Blind Folks (VIDEO)

The world was not made for blind people and getting around it when you can’t see can be very challenging. This is the 21st century, though, and there’s already technology available that can be put to use in helping blind folks navigate and do things otherwise impossible for them to do alone.Microsoft has taken up this cause and partnered with a number of organizations to develop a system that harnesses smartphones, wireless beacons, and bone-conducting headsets to reveal the surroundings to blind people in an intuitive way.
 LInk

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

THE AMAZING STORY OF THE BLIND ENGINEER (WHO IS ALSO A TRIATHLETE)

Patricia Walsh is one of those people who seems to excel at everything she does. After several years in a successful and coveted stint as an engineer at Microsoft, she left to join Austin, Texas-based mobile payment app Mozido--a job she loves--in 2013. A longtime marathon runner, Walsh completed her first triathalon in 2010 and began breaking records a year later. She launched a motivational speaking business and wrote a book.
She’s also blind.
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LIFE WILL GET VERY DIFFICULT SOMETIMES. YOU CHOOSE HOW TO RESPOND

After losing her vision, Walsh could have gotten angry and bitter, but instead turned to running to help her deal with those emotions. Later, her father was ill and her apartment was burned down by an arsonist. Meanwhile, she had to finish her book, train for her sport, and protect her spot on the national team. The only way to keep going was to focus on what really mattered to her--changing the perception of athletes with disabilities from “participatory hobbyists” to hardcore competitors who are to be taken seriously. She says she could never do that if she got mired in negativity.

BIG ACCOMPLISHMENTS ARE OFTEN A COLLECTION OF SMALL ONES

When Walsh first ventured out onto that Ontario running path, she never could have dreamed that she’d compete in the Paralympic Games one day. She says that accomplishing the big goals is a matter of faithfully doing the work toward achieving them every day. It’s getting on a bus at 5:30 a.m. to go work out and jump in a pool of cold water, even when she doesn’t want to. But the only way to get better is to keep working. Stay in touch with what motivates you.
“The only way to [keep going] is by reminding yourself frequently why this is important to you, and it can’t be something superficial, it has to be something that honest-to-God means something to you at a heart level,” she says.


LINK

WHY MUSIC MAJORS MAKE SOME OF THE BEST ENTREPRENEURS

Learning how to play a musical instrument and becoming a musician is an exercise in developing good listening skills, experimenting, overcoming repeated failure, self-discipline, and successful collaboration. It is simply impossible to become a successful music professional unless one also masters certain theoretical concepts, develops good presentation and improvisational skills and, ultimately, attains that elusive quality of originality that only comes once fear of failure is overtaken by the desire to acquire a new insight, a fresh perspective, and a unique voice.
Link

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Magic May Lurk Inside Us All

Or at least we think we do. Several streams of research in psychology, neuroscience and philosophy are converging on an uncomfortable truth: We’re more susceptible to magical thinking than we’d like to admit. Consider the quandary facing college students in a clever demonstration of magical thinking. An experimenter hands you several darts and instructs you to throw them at different pictures. Some depict likable objects (for example, a baby), others are neutral (for example, a face-shaped circle). Would your performance differ if you lobbed darts at a baby?

To Improve a Memory, Consider Chocolate

Science edged closer on Sunday to showing that an antioxidant in chocolate appears to improve some memory skills that people lose with age.
In a small study in the journal Nature Neuroscience, healthy people, ages 50 to 69, who drank a mixture high in antioxidants called cocoa flavanols for three months performed better on a memory test than people who drank a low-flavanol mixture.
On average, the improvement of high-flavanol drinkers meant they performed like people two to three decades younger on the study’s memory task, said Dr. Scott A. Small, a neurologist at Columbia University Medical Center and the study’s senior author. They performed about 25 percent better than the low-flavanol group.
Link

That Devil on Your Shoulder Likes to Sleep In

It is often asked why good people do bad things. Perhaps the question should be when.
More likely, it’s in the afternoon or evening. Much less so in the morning.
That’s the finding of research, published in the journal Psychological Science, which concludes that a person’s ability to self-regulate declines as the day wears on, increasing the likelihood of cheating, lying or committing fraud.
This so-called morning morality effect results from “cognitive tiredness,” said Isaac H. Smith, an assistant professor at the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University and co-author of the article withMaryam Kouchaki, an assistant professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. “To the extent that you’re cognitively tired,” Dr. Smith added, “you’re more likely to give in to the devil on your shoulder.”
Link

Thursday, October 30, 2014

This Is Your Brain on Drugs

For the Harvard-Northwestern study, published in the April issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, the team scanned the brains of 40 young adults, most from Boston-area colleges. Half were nonusers; half reported smoking for one to six years and showed no signs of dependence. Besides the seven light smokers, nine used three to five days a week and four used, on average, daily. All smokers showed abnormalities in the shape, density and volume of the nucleus accumbens, which “is at the core of motivation, the core of pleasure and pain, and every decision that you make,” explained Dr. Hans Breiter, a co-author of the study and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern’s medical school.
Similar changes affected the amygdala, which is fundamental in processing emotions, memories and fear responses.
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Evidence of long-term effects is also building. A study released in 2012 showed that teenagers who were found to be dependent on pot before age 18 and who continued using it into adulthood lost an average of eight I.Q. points by age 38. And last year at Northwestern, Dr. Breiter and colleagues also saw changes in the nucleus accumbens among adults in their early 20s who had smoked daily for three years but had stopped for at least two years.
They had impaired working memories as well. “Working memory is key for learning,” Dr. Breiter said. “If I were to design a substance that is bad for college students, it would be marijuana.”
Link

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Stem Cells Seem Safe in Treating Eye Disease

A treatment based on embryonic stem cells clears a key safety hurdle, and might help restore vision.
Link

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Buy Experiences, Not Things

Forty-seven percent of the time, the average mind is wandering. It wanders about a third of the time while a person is reading, talking with other people, or taking care of children. It wanders 10 percent of the time, even, during sex. And that wandering, according to psychologist Matthew Killingsworth, is not good for well-being. A mind belongs in one place. During his training at Harvard, Killingsworth compiled those numbers and built a scientific case for every cliché about living in the moment. In a 2010 Science paper co-authored with psychology professor Daniel Gilbert, the two wrote that "a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.
Link

Friday, October 10, 2014

Are We Really Conscious?

Third, what is the relationship between our minds and the physical world? Here, we don’t have a settled answer. We know something about the body and brain, but what about the subjective life inside? Consider that a computer, if hooked up to a camera, can process information about the wavelength of light and determine that grass is green. But we humans alsoexperience the greenness. We have an awareness of information we process. What is this mysterious aspect of ourselves?
Many theories have been proposed, but none has passed scientific muster. I believe a major change in our perspective on consciousness may be necessary, a shift from a credulous and egocentric viewpoint to a skeptical and slightly disconcerting one: namely, that we don’t actually have inner feelings in the way most of us think we do.
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The brain builds models (or complex bundles of information) about items in the world, and those models are often not accurate. From that realization, a new perspective on consciousness has emerged in the work of philosophers like Patricia S. Churchland and Daniel C. Dennett. Here’s my way of putting it:
How does the brain go beyond processing information to become subjectively aware of information? The answer is: It doesn’t. The brain has arrived at a conclusion that is not correct. When we introspect and seem to find that ghostly thing — awareness, consciousness, the way green looks or pain feels — our cognitive machinery is accessing internal models and those models are providing information that is wrong. The machinery is computing an elaborate story about a magical-seeming property. And there is no way for the brain to determine through introspection that the story is wrong, because introspection always accesses the same incorrect information.
Link

Friday, October 03, 2014

How Exercise May Protect Against Depression

Exercise may help to safeguard the mind against depression through previously unknown effects on working muscles, according to a new study involving mice. The findings may have broad implications for anyone whose stress levels threaten to become emotionally overwhelming.
Link
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