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A Star-Trek-style medical scanner could be here in the near future

A team of Stanford University electrical engineers have taken large steps towards creating a portable scanning device to detect hidden objects, with possible applications in the medical field as a detector of tumors in the brain. The team says the device could be ready for practical use within the next fifteen years, despite the technology sounding like something out of science fiction—specifically, the medical tricorder tool from the world of Star Trek. In the Star Trek universe, a tricorder is a handheld multifunctional tool used for data collection, sensor-scanning, and status analysis. Medical tricorders are used by doctors to scan…

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A video handily explains all the wonderful things videogames do for your brain

It’s well-documented at this point that playing videogames has an effect on your brain. It’s just what effect, exactly, that scientists haven’t quite figured out. Something to do with decision-making and sensory awareness, right? But it’s a step toward appreciating games for what they are—valuable in their own right, without having to be Mavis Beacon snoozefests to gain legitimacy. In that spirit, here’s a new video from GE’s Awareness Campaign, which hopes to illuminate the connections between everyday activities and the human brain. In a statement, Sam Olstein, GE’s Director of Innovation, had this to say: “Gaming and brain fitness can…

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Hard empirical evidence that games are better than music

Well, kinda. A new study by researchers at the University of Barcelona shows that some people are incapable of having emotional responses to music. But those very same people who don’t get all misty-eyed when they hear “Desperado” still found games stimulating. For the study, researchers gathered 30 emotionally healthy students. Then, they monitored their heart rates and sweat levels while they listened to music everyone should be familiar with. Next, they did a similar test while the subjects played a game for money. The results showed that some people are genuinely apathetic about music, but all subjects responded positively…

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This asteroid-zapping game might cure cancer

The free mobile game Play to Cure: Genes in Space was created at a madcap game jam hosted by Cancer Research UK to do just that: research cancer. You can get it for Android here and iPhone there and start blasting your way towards a cure. But listen how it works first. The human genome is teeny tiny, but has generated a ton of data, and that’s where this game comes in. By flying through hoops and shooting down space debris, you’re actually helping researchers analyze which sections of the genome cause cancer. I gave it a whirl, and frankly, Starfox…

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EyeWire and the Brave New World of crowd-sourced neuroscience games

The retina of the eye is wired with a superhighway of fiber, and the crowd-sourced research project dedicated to charting it is called EyeWire. It was codeveloped at MIT and Max Planck Institute for Medical Research under the tutelage of Dr. Sebastian Seung, a professor of neuroscience who specializes in the study of connectomes, which are like road maps to the brain. But even a small connectome is infinitesimally complex, and in order to get his tasks done with any sense of urgency, he needs to enlist, train, motivate, and let loose a class of diligent but unpaid operators —…