human eye, blind spot Biology Health 

We’ve All Got a Blind Spot, and Can Shrink It

By Kate S. The human eye is marvel of evolution, but it includes an unavoidable blind spot. That’s because the optic nerve that sends visual signals to the brain must pass through the retina, which creates a hole in the light-sensitive layer of tissue. When images project to that precise part of the eye, they cannot be seen. Now researchers are sharing some good news: this blind spot in the human eye can be effectively “shrunk” with training, despite the fact that the hole in our visual field remains. Reducing…

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Cat Videos: Bloomington, Indiana's own Lil Bub is one of the more popular felines on the Internet. (Photo by Mike Bridavsky/www.lilbub.com) Animals Citizen Science Health 

Cat Videos Boost Energy, Good Feelings

Do you get a warm, fuzzy feeling after watching cat videos online? If so, that emotional effect may be more profound than you realize. The Internet phenomenon of watching cat videos, from Lil Bub to Grumpy Cat, apparently does more than simply entertain. It boosts viewers’ energy and positive emotions while decreasing negative feelings, according to a new study from Indiana University Media School. Can a Cat Video a Day Keep the Doctor Away? The study, by assistant professor Jessica Gall Myrick, surveyed almost 7,000 people about their viewing of…

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Brain Health (Illustration courtesy of Dream Designs via freedigitalphotos.net) Biology Health 

Brain Health: Fight Brain Age with Civic Activity

Have you had a “senior moment” today? Do you worry about the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other forms of brain atrophy in old age? These are common concerns. As we age, our brains can shrink, but a new study from John Hopkins University reveals that brain health can be improved with civic-minded activities such as volunteering and teaching. Our brains can do incredible things, such as control robotics such as this mind-controlled robotic arm, or learn to use other tools. Our brains are so amazing that we are even trying to…

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Chemistry on EH Science Biology 

Handshakes May Engage Our Sense of Smell

Why do people shake hands? A new Weizmann Institute study suggests one of the reasons for this ancient custom may be to check out each other’s chemistry. Even if we are not consciously aware of this purpose, handshaking may provide people with a socially acceptable way of communicating via the sense of smell. Handshakes: Nice to Sniff You Not only do people often sniff their own hands, but they do so more actively and for a much longer time after shaking someone else’s hand, the study has found. “It’s well…

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Frey suggests that the cerebellum, a region of the brain that has changed very little over time, may play a critical role in assistive technologies benefiting the disabled. (MU News Bureau) Biology Health Technology 

How the Brain Can Control Robotics

We recently reported on new technology that enables amputees and other disabled people to control robotic arms with their brains. Since then, scientists at the University of Missouri, Columbia have been further investigating how the human brain interacts with such robotic limbs and the findings are fascinating. A simple hand motion, such as grasping an object, actually involves a complex set of brain functions. First, the brain receives and processes visual signals. Next, other areas of the brain use these signals to control the hands as they reach for and grasp…

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