Daydreaming Indicates A Well-Equipped Brain, Study Says

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daydream

A lot of people think that those who let their minds wander off to some fantasy land cannot possibly have what it takes to pay close attention to any type of task. Remarks such as “get your head out of the clouds” or “you need to live in reality” are commonly expressed to daydreamers both young and old. However, researchers have found that daydreaming may actually be a good thing. According to an article in the Smithsonian, the Psychology of Science has released data from a new study revealing that those who daydream, or let their minds wander, may have a higher degree of working memory.

How The Experiment Was Done

This surprising revelation came from a study that was performed by researchers from the University of North Carolina. They discovered some very interesting information on how those who allow their brain to wander, or to daydream, may actually have working memories that outperform those who do not daydream. The researchers were interested to see if there is a link between the capacity of the working memory and how a person’s mind wandering may or may not have an effect on it.

Researchers performed an experience sampling study, which included 124 undergraduate participants. The participants used electronic devices over the course of 7 days to record when their thoughts wandered during an activity. The personal digital assistant would send out an alert to the participant at random times each day. This alert made them stop and report at that moment if their mind was wandering while working on the task that they were currently doing. The participants also had to record what the daydream was about, which included information on both the physical aspects of the daydream as well as the psychological aspects of it.

The Results

The study concluded that individuals who allow their minds to wander do have a better working memory ability. Working memory is defined as the brain’s ability to retain and recall information in the face of distractions. The results show that a person who daydreams, or lets their mind wander during some mundane activities will have a larger working memory capacity than those who do not. The participants who recorded on the personal digital assistant devices that they were daydreaming during the smaller tasks focused more on the tasks that required concentration than the individuals who did not let their minds wander.

Paying full attention to something means that the participants who did daydream during certain tasks could block out sensory information in the surrounding environment enough to give full, undivided attention to the harder tasks. The participants who did not record any information in the personal digital assistant devices about daydreaming were not able to block out the interfering sensory information from the world around them enough to give the harder tasks the full concentration that it needed, and so they performed worse than the other group did.

The Conclusion

The results of the study performed by the researchers from the University of North Carolina show that when a task is mundane or easy for daydreamers, their working memory is still searching for something to do and this is where the mind wandering comes in.

Some researchers believe that this is due to the fact that daydreaming causes the working memory to perform in the same way as it would for a difficult task that requires full concentration. The good news is that the results of this study reveal that the working memory is something that can be enhanced the more that it is used. So, let your mind wander and dream up whatever it takes to create a happy place.

Featured photo credit: Photograph Courtesy of Hiiiilzy via flickr.com

The post Daydreaming Indicates A Well-Equipped Brain, Study Says appeared first on Lifehack.

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Raspberry Pi finally offers an official starter kit after passing 10M sales

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The Raspberry Pi Foundation has finally put out an official starter kit for its low cost microcomputer — offering what it dubs an “unashamedly premium” bundle for the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, complete with optical mouse and keyboard in a very Apple-looking shade of white, plus all the cables you need to get up and running. The only thing missing is a screen.

The official Pi starter kit is available to order online in the U.K. from the Foundation’s distributors element14 and RS Components, priced at £99 (+VAT). While sales are slated to open up to markets in the rest of the world “over the next few weeks”.

It’s something of a full revolution for the Foundation which conceived the original Pi with the intention of inspiring schoolkids to learn programming the hard way — i.e. by trial and error and messing around with wires and cables, rather than being handed an ‘it just works box of bits’ to plug and play.

Four and a half years later, with more than 10 million of its single board Pi microcomputers now sold, the Foundation evidently feels it’s time to put a cherry on top of the project with its own shiny white starter kit. And fair play to them. In February last year the Pi had racked up 5 million unit sales. But the expansion of the range to the $5 price-point with Pi Zero last November has clearly helped accelerate demand.

The project has also scaled wildly beyond the Foundation’s original goals, with many a Pi finding its way into the hands of a crafty maker or clever startup, not just aspiring student coders. So the market for Pi will surely accommodate a premium bundle likely to appeal to gizmo lovers in the Western world, while continuing to support expanding access to computing in developing markets via the Foundation’s most affordable Pis.

The Foundation is by no means the first to offer a Pi starter kit. Indeed, the lack of an official kit provided a window of opportunity for third parties to put together Pi bundles of their own, such as London based startup Kano which offers a bundle aimed at kids that includes not just hardware bits but its own software skin running atop the Pi’s OS with gamified elements. So while the arrival of an official kit may now squeeze out some players, there’s likely to continue to be room for a range of specialized starter kits targeting different niches.

The full list of items included in the official Pi starter kit is as follows:

  • A Raspberry Pi 3 Model B
  • An 8GB NOOBS SD card
  • An official case
  • An official 2.5A multi-region power supply
  • An official 1m HDMI cable
  • An optical mouse and a keyboard with high-quality scissor-switch action
  • A copy of Adventures in Raspberry Pi Foundation Edition

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HemaApp gives smartphones the power to detect anemia

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A team of researchers from the University of Washington have developed an app that turns smartphones into anemia detectors. See, the condition often goes undiagnosed in developing parts of the world. And seeing as it’s the most common blood disorder out there, it likely affects more than 25 percent of the population that the World Health Organization believes it does. HemaApp gives medical professionals a way to see if patients have anemia simply by shining the phone’s flash against their skin.

The app estimates hemoglobin concentrations — anemia is characterized by low levels of hemoglobin or red blood cells — by analyzing the color of a person’s blood. UW’s researchers found that it was most accurate when used with a low-cost LED lighting attachment on top of the flash, allowing it to see more of what’s under the patient’s skin. In fact, it was as accurate as the Masimo Pronto, the expensive FDA-approved machine that can measure hemoglobin non-invasively using a device clipped to a person’s finger. A smartphone loaded with the HemaApp will be much cheaper and accessible for medical professionals in developing nations.

This team of researchers built on the work by another U of Washington group that developed an app that can detect jaundice in babies. They plan to improve their technology further to be able to screen for sickle cell disease and other blood disorders. Despite what it can do, HemaApp will mostly be used for initial screening, and people who exhibit low hemoglobin levels still have to get a blood test. It will at least allow doctors and nurses to pluck those who need further tests from a bigger number of people, though, so they won’t have to take blood samples for anemia if they don’t have to.

Via: Technology Review

Source: University of Washington

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Raspberry Pi finally offers an official starter kit after passing 10M sales

Standard

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has finally put out an official starter kit for its low cost microcomputer — offering what it dubs an “unashamedly premium” bundle for the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, complete with optical mouse and keyboard in a very Apple-looking shade of white, plus all the cables you need to get up and running. The only thing missing is a screen.

The official Pi starter kit is available to order online in the U.K. from the Foundation’s distributors element14 and RS Components, priced at £99 (+VAT). While sales are slated to open up to markets in the rest of the world “over the next few weeks”.

It’s something of a full revolution for the Foundation which conceived the original Pi with the intention of inspiring schoolkids to learn programming the hard way — i.e. by trial and error and messing around with wires and cables, rather than being handed an ‘it just works box of bits’ to plug and play.

Four and a half years later, with more than 10 million of its single board Pi microcomputers now sold, the Foundation evidently feels it’s time to put a cherry on top of the project with its own shiny white starter kit. And fair play to them. In February last year the Pi had racked up 5 million unit sales. But the expansion of the range to the $5 price-point with Pi Zero last November has clearly helped accelerate demand.

The project has also scaled wildly beyond the Foundation’s original goals, with many a Pi finding its way into the hands of a crafty maker or clever startup, not just aspiring student coders. So the market for Pi will surely accommodate a premium bundle likely to appeal to gizmo lovers in the Western world, while continuing to support expanding access to computing in developing markets via the Foundation’s most affordable Pis.

The Foundation is by no means the first to offer a Pi starter kit. Indeed, the lack of an official kit provided a window of opportunity for third parties to put together Pi bundles of their own, such as London based startup Kano which offers a bundle aimed at kids that includes not just hardware bits but its own software skin running atop the Pi’s OS with gamified elements. So while the arrival of an official kit may now squeeze out some players, there’s likely to continue to be room for a range of specialized starter kits targeting different niches.

The full list of items included in the official Pi starter kit is as follows:

  • A Raspberry Pi 3 Model B
  • An 8GB NOOBS SD card
  • An official case
  • An official 2.5A multi-region power supply
  • An official 1m HDMI cable
  • An optical mouse and a keyboard with high-quality scissor-switch action
  • A copy of Adventures in Raspberry Pi Foundation Edition

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