Archive for the ‘mind’ Category

Mobile phones may distract drivers more than anything else

December 1, 2008

Mobile phone calls distract drivers far more than even the chattiest passenger, causing drivers to follow too closely and miss exits, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.

Using a hands-free device does not make things better and the researchers believe they know why — passengers act as a second set of eyes, shutting up or sometimes even helping when they see the driver needs to make a maneuver.

A woman talks on her cell phone while driving in Burbank, California ...

The research, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, adds to a growing body of evidence that mobile phones can make driving dangerous.

Lee Strayer of the University of Utah and colleagues have found in a series of experiments using driving simulators that hands-free mobile phones are just as distracting as handheld models.

They have demonstrated that chatting on a cell phone can slow the reaction times of young adult drivers to levels seen among senior citizens, and shown that drivers using mobile telephones are as impaired as drivers who are legally drunk.

For the latest study, also using a simulator, Strayer‘s team showed that drivers using a hands-free device drifted out of their lanes and missed exits more frequently than drivers talking to a passenger. They tested 96 adults aged 18 to 49.

“The passenger adds a second set of eyes, and helps the driver navigate and reminds them where to go,” Strayer said in a statement.

“When you take a look at the data, it turns out that a driver conversing with a passenger is not as impaired a driver talking on a cell phone,” he added.

Related:
Multitasking In The Car: Just Like Drunken Driving

Read the rest from Reuters:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081201/us_nm/us_
cellphones_drivers;_ylt=ApOm6RYRi
04QU_GTuuOAlB2s0NUE

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Violent video games tied to teen aggression

November 15, 2008

Adolescents who play violent video games may become increasingly aggressive over time, a new study of Japanese and U.S. teens suggests.

Researchers found that among three groups of 9- to 18-year-olds followed over several months, those who regularly played violent video games were more likely to get into more and more physical fights over time. The study is among the first to chart changes in gamers’ aggressive behavior over time, lending weight to evidence that violent video games can encourage violence in some kids. And it’s the first to show that the effects are seen across cultures, researchers report in the journal Pediatrics.

Reuters

“Basically what we found was that in all three samples, a lot of violent video game play early in a school year leads to higher levels of aggression during the school year, as measured later in the school year — even after you control for how aggressive the kids were at the beginning of the year,” lead researcher Dr. Craig A. Anderson, of Iowa State University in Ames, explained.

An argument has been made that video games cannot be directly contributing to aggression because violence rates are low in Japan where video games are highly popular, Anderson said in a written statement.

“By gathering data from Japan,” he said, “we can test that hypothesis directly and ask, ‘Is it the case that Japanese kids are totally unaffected by playing violent video games?’ And of course, they aren’t. They’re affected pretty much the same way American kids are.

The findings are based on two separate groups of teenagers from Japan — 1,231 teens in all — and 364 9- to 12-year-olds from the U.S. At the outset, participants estimated how often they played violent video games, then their own aggressive behavior was followed for up to six months afterward.

The Japanese teens reported on their own violent behavior using questionnaires, while teachers’ and peers’ reports were used to estimate the U.S. group’s aggressive behavior.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081114/hl_
nm/us_teen_aggression;_ylt=Am_v7VUsIQogSxhh6ibZA_Ks0NUE

Veteran’s kin wants answers on PTSD drugs

November 13, 2008

A West Virginia man whose son survived the battlefields of Iraq only to die in his sleep at home is crusading to find other military families whose loved ones also have died after taking drugs prescribed for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

By Andrea Billups
The Washington Times 

Stan White’s son Andrew, who was found dead in bed at the family’s Cross Lanes, W.Va., home on Feb. 12, 2007, is one among a cluster of young veterans in the state who have died in their sleep with little explanation. Now Mr. White wants the federal government to monitor the drugs it prescribes to some 375,000 soldiers who have been diagnosed with mental trauma.

So far, he has identified nine veterans across the country – including four in West Virginia – who have died in their sleep after taking antidepressant and antipsychotic medications.

Mr. White has met with members of Congress and asked for Capitol Hill hearings to investigate the deaths. His research prompted a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) investigation into Andrew’s and one other death, which were found to have been caused by “combined drug intoxication.” But the investigation could not determine whether the prescribed medications were at fault….

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008
/nov/13/veterans-kin-demands-answ
ers-on-ptsd-drugs/

Adult Brains’ ‘Internal Chatter’ Limits Multitasking

October 30, 2008

It’s not every brain scientist who explains her research using Shakespeare. But University of Michigan psychology professor Cindy Lustig describes brain development over a lifetime as a correlation with Shakespeare’s “seven ages of man.”

From NPR

Using behavioral tests and brain scans, Lustig and her collaborators, Drs. Randy Buckner and Denise Head, study how age affects the brain’s ability to multitask. While the young child’s brain is only capable of focusing on one thing at a time, as the brain develops it is able to switch between tasks quite quickly, reaching a multitasking peak in the 20s or 30s, says Lustig. Beyond that, the brain experiences “internal chatter” and has to work a lot harder to suppress distractions and maintain focus.

Single-Track Minds

Early in life, Lustig says, we have a phenomenal ability to ignore everything except what’s right in front of us.

When children focus on a game or a puzzle, she says, they are not thinking about anything else. They are not thinking about their day or their grocery list. They focus solely on the one task, says Lustig, and don’t have any background noise.

Young children have trouble taking on more than one task at a time. Parents often exploit this weakness. When a toddler wants Big Brother’s favorite truck, they redirect him toward that cool race car in the corner.

Read the rest and listen to the broadcast:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=96213400