I just watched a great video from TED.com about stress. In the video, researcher Kelly McGonigal reveals recent research findings that turn some of our preconceptions about stress upside-down. After years of researching the negative effects of stress, McGonigal, a Stanford University psychologist, has turned her critical eye to the positive side of stress.. Check out this excellent video and learn about Dr. McGonigal’s research-based suggestions for how to make stress your friend instead of your enemy!
We had a ton of fun with our Winter Brain Games, and are excited to share the results with you! Here is a graphic showing the final scores and standings:
If you enjoyed the Brain Games, be sure to keep training on BrainHQ to keep your brain in tip-top shape.
We’d also love to hear your feedback on your experience with the Winter Brain Games, if you want to share it with us in the comments or on our social networks.
I recently watched another great video from ASAP Science about talent vs. training. The video asks the question, “which is more important: genetics or hard work?” They briefly discuss research that looked at athletic achievements. The research found that a person’s genetics can mark them as a highly responsive to training, possessing high endurance, or both, or neither. As you might expect, a person who is genetically prone to high endurance and being highly responsive to training makes a better athlete than any other group, once trained. You can check out the video here:
But what about things other than athletics? You may have heard about Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 Hour” theory, which posits that to truly become expert at something (a sport, a musical instrument, a foreign language, and so forth) you need to work at it for 10,000 hours. In Outliers, Gladwell says that 10,000 hours is “the magic number of greatness.” But more recent research has shown that this is probably not true; even with 10,000 hours or 10 years of practice, not everyone can become an expert at everything.
In fact, the 10,000 hour rule was not invented by Gladwell; he adapted his theory from a 1993 scientific paper that called it the “10-year rule.” The researcher who wrote the paper on the 10-year rule, Anders Ericsson, has clarified that there is nothing special about 10,000 hours or 10 years, but rather, that (unsurprisingly) people who practice something for a lot of hours over a long period of time tend to get pretty darn good at it. Ericsson has also pointed out that the 10,000 hour rule cannot possibly apply to every acquirable skill or talent, because not all skills are created equally. Becoming a virtuoso violinist takes much more dedicated practice than learning to memorize strings of digits, for example. And, he notes, with a field like athletics, body type, build, and other physical characteristics affect the outcome and ultimate success as well.
Recent news reports have focused on some tragic stories involving people described as “brain-dead.” But what does “brain-dead” actually mean? Is there hope for a brain-dead person? Is there a difference between being brain-dead, in a vegetative state, or in a coma? Here are some facts about what it means when a person is brain-dead and how it is different from a vegetative state or coma.
“Brain death” is in fact one of two formal, legal definitions of death. (The other one is cardiopulmonary death–the loss of function in the heart and lungs.) When someone is brain-dead, it means there is no blood flow or oxygen getting to the brain or brain stem, and that these organs have ceased functioning. Although the heart and lungs of a brain-dead person continue working (naturally or via medical intervention,) a person who is brain-dead is not alive and will never be able to be revived.
A “vegetative state” or “persistent vegetative state” (PVS) is the same thing as a coma. It is a deep state of unconsciousness, but it is not brain death. A person who is in a coma is alive and may recover fully, but during the PVS or coma that person is unable to respond to the environment and unable to move. However, they still maintain non-cognitive functions like breathing and circulation, and follow normal sleep patterns.
The outcome of a person in a PVS or coma depends on the severity and type of damage that caused the coma. Some people are able to recover completely while others may suffer physical or cognitive problems that require additional treatment.
In short: “Brain death” means a person has died and will never recover, even if the heart and lungs may continue operating for awhile after the brain has died. A “vegetative state” or “coma” means that a person is unable to respond to stimuli but may be able to recover fully, depending on what caused the coma.
Do these “moving” illusions make your brain hurt? Even though you see they are two stationary drawings and not really moving, it’s still hard for the brain to reconcile because the animation is so convincing. If you watch the video, you’ll see that even cats are fooled by it! Simply amazing.