Weekly Brain Food – April 24, 2016

Weekly Brain Food – April 24, 2016

A selection of stories shaping our brains this week

Attention Students: Put Your Laptops Away

While the idea of taking notes by hand may seem old-fashioned in an age of voice-to-text functionality and screen technology ubiquity, the data suggest that students (or anyone, for that matter) benefit tremendously from hand writing. Researchers from Princeton and UCLA conducted several studies into the impact of note taking on cognition and memory. They compared the effectiveness of note taking by hand (pen and paper) and on laptop by quizzing students.

Subjects who typed notes captured more words than their pen-toting counterparts, focusing on capturing as much verbatim as possible, and the two groups performed comparably when asked to recall specific facts.

But when asked more conceptual questions, the hand writers performed significantly better.

The lesson: the very act of handwriting forces us to slow down, process and think about the information we’re consuming. This literally improves our ability to encode critical information to memory. So the next time you’re interested in actually learning, focus less on the information and more on the processing.

And pick up a pen and paper.

Full story here


“It’s Going to Be Okay”

Ever come across something that at once surprises you and gets you right in the feels? This is a great story, as it does both of these things. Told in comic format, it’s a remarkable story of selflessness, compassion and pure chance – with a twist that is beyond belief. And it’s a true story.

Full comic here


Game of Thrones Algorithm Finds Jon Snow Should Not Have Died

It was only a matter of time before the world’s buzziest TV show got the big data treatment. A team of data scientists has created an algorithm predicting the likelihood of death for each Game of Thrones character. They say Jon Snow’s death was an aberration, which will only serve to fuel more fan speculation around the future of Jon Snow.

Full story here


Liberal Biases, too, May Block Progress on Climate Change

“The left is turning anti-science.” So says super-VC Marc Andreesen, as he reflected on a broad range of topics from GMOs to technology’s impact on labour. (One might add vaccinations and a range of other pharmaceutical and medical practices to that list.)

This trend matters for climate change in the left’s opposition to a proven green energy generator: nuclear.

A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that just 35% of Democrats favour building more nuclear plants, as opposed to 60% of Republicans, despite the overwhelming proof that nuclear energy would provide for our clean, green energy needs in a way other sources couldn’t. The liberal bias is summarized neatly by Matthew Nisbet of Northeastern University, who’s an expert on the communication of science: “When science is aligned with big corporations the left immediately, intuitively perceives the technology as not benefiting the greater good, but only benefiting the corporation.”

The challenge, then, is for climate change communicators to de-couple the nuclear energy argument from the ‘big bad corporation’ perception, and demonstrate nuclear energy’s place in a world in which we want to live.

Full Story here


How Runners Get High

In the spirit of 4/20, there’s an interesting story written up in NPR about an alternative theory to the ‘runner’s high’. As anyone who has run long distances would know, runners experience a sense of euphoria after certain distances. The prevailing belief is that this is due to the release of endorphins, which have long been a benefit of exercise. But this write-up quotes a study published last fall in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that attributes that ‘runners high’ to endocannabinoids, cousins to the cannabinoids found in marijuana.

Full story here


Frankie Malone in Persol's Instagram Graphic Novel

Frankie Malone in Persol’s Instagram Graphic Novel

Persol Sunglasses is Writing a Graphic Novel in Real Time on Instagram

And finally, at least one advertiser is doing something really cool on Instagram. Persol Sunglasses is illustrating and sharing a sort of ‘choose your ending’ graphic novel. It follows the story of Frankie Malone, “a rebel seeking to overthrow a regime that has outlawed free thought and stamped out individuality.” And it shows a unique way for brands to use the platform.

Full Story here



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