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Brain waves can identify a good gamer

Researchers have claimed that they can predict who will improve most on an unfamiliar computer game by simply looking at their brain waves.  They found that those most able to learn to play a new game quickly had brains that oscillated most powerfully in the alpha spectrum, the Daily Mail reported.

They said that the system could accurately predict who would improve after a month of practice. The researchers used electroencephalography (EEG) to peek at electrical activity in the brains of 39 study subjects before they trained on Space Fortress, a video game developed for cognitive research.

The subjects, whose brain waves oscillated most powerfully in the alpha spectrum (about 10 times per second, or 10 hertz) when measured at the front of the head, tended to learn at a faster rate than those whose brain waves oscillated with less power, the researchers found.

The EEG signal was a robust predictor of improvement on the game, University of Illinoispostdoctoral researcher and Beckman Fellow Kyle Mathewson, who led the research with psychology professors and Beckman Institute faculty members Monica Fabiani and Gabriele Gratton, said.

“By measuring your brain waves the very first time you play the game, we can predict how fast you’ll learn over the next month,” Mathewson said.

Methamphetamine may help fight flu virus

Methamphetamine, the bad effects of which include killing brain cells, fuelling tooth decay, loading the body with toxins and weakening the heart, muscles and immune system, could also have flu-fighting properties, a new research has suggested. A team of scientists from the National Health Research Institutes in Taiwan studied how methamphetamine interacts with influenza A virus in lung cells, Fox News reported.

Previous research in this field had suggested that chronic meth abuse makes people more susceptible to pathogens like HIV.

The team wanted to find how the drug might reduce users’ resistance to flu viruses.
The team took cultures of human lung epithelial cells, which they exposed to different concentrations of meth, and then infected them with an H1N1 strain of human influenza A. Within 30 to 48 hours after infection, the meth-treated cells were found to have a much lower concentration of the virus than the control group, the researchers reported.

The researchers said that their study may help find other, safer compounds that have the same effect. “This finding strongly encourages future work to investigate whether other compounds, structurally similar to meth, can inhibit influenza A virus production and be used to prevent or alleviate influenza A virus infection,” they wrote.

Caveman movement skills return as fitness mantra

A growing international movement called MovNat is encouraging people to follow ancient human movement skills, like running through the bushes barefoot, in order to stay fit.

Founded by a French trainer, Erwan Le Corre, about four years ago, it encourages natural, functional exercise in an outdoor setting. It also promotes a paleo-style diet, which is based on hunter-gatherer foods such as meat, vegetables, fruit and nuts.

About 250 people around the world have become official instructors since qualifications were introduced in May this year.  The system is based on 13 cardio-, strength- and flexibility-based movements that can be done with or without a partner. Locomotive skills include walking, running, jumping, crawling and swimming; manipulative skills include lifting and carrying; and combative skills include striking and grappling.

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