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Original author: 
John Timmer

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One of the problems with cognitive and behavioral research is getting a good cross-section of the general population. Although they're convenient to work with, a couple hundred college students rarely represent the full diversity of human capability and behavior, yet that's exactly what many studies rely on. But a brain-training game may now provide access to data on scales that behavioral scientists probably never dreamed of. With a user base of over 35 million, the data obtained through the game could help us tease out very subtle effects. But as a start, a team of researchers have focused on some simpler questions: how aging and alcohol affect our ability to learn.

The software is less a game itself than a game and survey platform. Developed by a company called Lumosity, it's available on mobile platforms and through a Web interface. The platform can run a variety of games (a typical one asks users to answer math questions that appear in raindrops before they hit the ground), all with an emphasis on brain training. A few games are available for free and users can pay to get access to more advanced ones.

The scientific literature on brain training games is a bit mixed, and there's some controversy about whether the games improve mental function in general, or only those specific areas of cognition that the game focuses on. Lumosity clearly argues for the former and one of its employees pointed Ars to a number of studies that he felt validate the company's approach. What's not in doubt, however, is that it has a huge user base with over 35 million registered users. And because the Lumosity platform is flexible, it has been able to get basic demographic information from many of those users; they and others have also filled out personality profiles and other assessments.

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Original author: 
Andrew Webster

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Helplessness is a key to good horror, and there are few times when you're more helpless than as a child. Among the Sleep, an upcoming game that just launched a Kickstarter campaign, aims to exploit that fact by putting you in the role of a two-year-old. You'll stumble through a dark house in search of your parents, seeing the world from a first-person perspective — and one that's much lower to the ground. You'll also have to deal with the added terrors created by a child's overactive imagination.

"There are at least two times in everyone's lives when we have been authentically scared: and that's while we are dreaming and when we were children," explains Adrian Tingstad Husby, from development studio Krillbite. "Among the Sleep...

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jjp9999 writes "Recent findings published on Jan. 27 in the journal Nature Neuroscience may inspire you to get some proper sleep. Researchers at UC Berkeley found that REM sleep plays a key role in moving short term memories from the hippocampus (where short-term memories are stored) to the prefrontal cortex (where long-term memories are stored), and that degeneration of the frontal lobe as we grow older may play a key role in forgetfulness. 'What we have discovered is a dysfunctional pathway that helps explain the relationship between brain deterioration, sleep disruption and memory loss as we get older – and with that, a potentially new treatment avenue,' said UC Berkeley sleep researcher Matthew Walker."

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TEDxEMU - Dewey Sims - Sleep: A New Solution

Dewey will define sleep and its stages and discuss the importance of sleep and its impact on our lives. He will delve into the magnitude of sleep deprivation, addressing how many people are affected in this country and list the negative effects of its far reaching impact. He will also discuss ways to increase life productivity by becoming better sleepers, including a revolutionary, scientifically proven new method. In thespirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.
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TEDxCambridge: Charles Czeisler on a sleep epidemic

Charles Czeisler explains why we're sleeping less than we did a generation ago, and the damaging effects it's having on our health, from increased diagnoses of psychiatric illness to heart disease to obesity. www.tedxcambridge.com
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garthsundem writes "As described in the NY Times Economix blog, the mattress chain Sleepy's analyzed data from the National Health Interview Survey to find the ten most sleep deprived professions. In order, they are: Home Health Aides, Lawyer, Police Officers, Doctors/Paramedics, Tie: (Economists, Social Workers, Computer Programmers), Financial Analysts, Plant Operators (undefined, but we assume 'factory' and not 'Audrey II'), and Secretaries."


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Historically, people slept for four hours, woke up for a couple of hours, then fell back asleep for another four hours, according to historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech. In 2001, he "published a seminal paper, drawn from 16 years of research, revealing a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks."

His book At Day's Close: Night in Times Past, published four years later, unearths more than 500 references to a segmented sleeping pattern - in diaries, court records, medical books and literature, from Homer's Odyssey to an anthropological account of modern tribes in Nigeria.

During this waking period people were quite active. They often got up, went to the toilet or smoked tobacco and some even visited neighbours. Most people stayed in bed, read, wrote and often prayed. Countless prayer manuals from the late 15th Century offered special prayers for the hours in between sleeps.

And these hours weren't entirely solitary - people often chatted to bed-fellows or had sex.

A doctor's manual from 16th Century France even advised couples that the best time to conceive was not at the end of a long day's labour but "after the first sleep", when "they have more enjoyment" and "do it better".

BBC: The myth of the eight-hour sleep (Via TYWKIWWDBI)

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Hugh Pickens writes "BBC reports that a growing body of evidence from both science and history suggests that eight-hours of uninterrupted sleep may be unnatural as a wealth of historical evidence reveals that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks called first and second sleep. A book by historian Roger Ekirch, At Day's Close: Night in Times Past, unearths more than 500 references to a segmented sleeping pattern — in diaries, court records, medical books and literature, from Homer's Odyssey to an anthropological account of modern tribes in Nigeria. 'It's not just the number of references — it is the way they refer to it, as if it was common knowledge,' says Ekirch. References to the first and second sleep started to disappear during the late 17th Century with improvements in street lighting, domestic lighting and a surge in coffee houses — which were sometimes open all night. Today most people seem to have adapted quite well to the eight-hour sleep, but Ekirch believes many sleeping problems may have roots in the human body's natural preference for segmented sleep which could be the root of a condition called sleep maintenance insomnia, where people wake during the night and have trouble getting back to sleep. 'Our pattern of consolidated sleep has been a relatively recent development, another product of the industrial age, while segmented sleep was long the natural form of our slumber, having a provenance as old as humankind,' says Ekrich, adding that we may 'choose to emulate our ancestors, for whom the dead of night, rather than being a source of dread, often afforded a welcome refuge from the regimen of daily life.'"


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Craig F. Walker / The Denver Post

"I want to go home. It makes me feel like I have an excuse. I'ïve been thinking about everyone," Ian says. He waits to speak with Sgt. 1st Class Robert Russell, the recruiting command liaison, to outline his injury and make a new claim: A drill sergeant mistreated him for not seeking permission when he got an X-ray the night before.

Excerpted from The Image, Deconstructed (TID):

TID: You mentioned before that you went you through a bit of culture shock and sleep deprivation? Can you more talk about that? I imagine at times it was if you were going through boot camp as well.

CRAIG: To make the best images, I needed to live my life as Ian was living his, which involved culture shock and sleep deprivation. The first week of processing and basic training were the worst. With the drill sergeants yelling through the constant marching, exercise and 30 seconds to eat, I understood why some recruits questioned their decision to join the army.

TID: Were there any moments of conflict while shooting, and if so, how did you handle it?

CRAIG: In Iraq, Ian was assigned to the Quick Reaction Force, which responded to emergencies on and off the base 24/7. So when there was an attack, instead of taking shelter in the bunkers, we jumped in the vehicles and sped toward it.This could be stressful but my moments of conflict had little to do with photographing soldiers on the front lines or working in a hostile environment. Instead, my difficulties were with people who didn’t trust “the media” or understand what I was doing. There were a number of people who told me they didn’t want to be photographed. If those people were important to the story, I would take the time to explain to them the story’s mission and why their role in it was necessary.Those moments, though, were few and far between, and I always found that an honest conversation was the best remedy for potential obstacles. Ultimately, the people who were most important to the story understood it and were okay with being part of it.

Learn more about Craig Walker and his work on The Image, Deconstructed

Explore the full project from the Denver Post - Ian Fisher: American Soldier

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