Study finds brain games postpone cognitive decline

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A massive study released last week found that brain games and training can help slow the cognitive decline that comes with aging. The study, funded by the National Institute of Health and published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, is the first to find long-term benefits associated with brain games.

Researchers placed subjects in groups receiving speed-based tasks, memory exercises, reasoning games, or nothing at all. Sessions lasted about an hour and took place over six weeks. Testers evaluated subjects immediately following the trials and at intervals throughout ten years. At the end of the study, 71 percent of participants who received speed training performed at or above their level from the start of the study compared with 48 percent in the control group. Those who participated in reasoning games showed improvement as well, with 74 percent performing at or above their initial marks compared with only 62 percent of the control group. The memory games had no effect on performance. Continue reading

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5 mind-bendingly awesome optical illusions

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Part 1 in a series. Click here for Part 2: 5 More Mind-Bending Optical Illusions

Think you see the world as it is? Think again. As discussed in an earlier post, our brains filter input from the senses, piecing together a world that differs from reality. To shake up the old blogging formula (and to make room for these theoretical math midterms currently dominating my life), I’ve compiled a list of some of the coolest optical illusions on the web. Aside from being awesome, these give insight into how the brain interprets visual cues. I’ll be back soon with the science behind the coolest ones.

5. Peripheral Drift

The textbook “motion where there is no motion.” Tried and true. A classic.

Rotating Snakes Motion Circles Gears Optical Illusion Weekly ShowPeripheral Drift Optical Illusion Motion Waves Green Square Circles Weekly Show

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Your brain is a liar and can’t be trusted

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Ever heard the saying “Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear?” It’s a fun and useful rule of thumb. Who hasn’t seen or heard something outlandish every now and then? What may come as a surprise, though, is how accurate this statement is. Mounting evidence suggests that our brains are not as trustworthy as they lead us to believe.

Look at this screen. It’s bright and colorful (and is filled with awesome posts you should totally like and share). But what if I told you that what you see might not actually be there? Unknown to most, the human eye has a blind spot—a rather sizable one, in fact. The area where the optic nerve connects to the eye lacks light receptors, leaving it unable to gather information. As strange as it may seem, you have two gaping holes in your vision.

Blind Spot Test Example Disappear Cool Eye Sign Vision Pattern Elephant Weekly Show

Close your left eye and look at the plus sign. Slowly move your head toward the screen, keeping your eye on the plus sign. When the elephant enters your blind spot, it will disappear.

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