What is your phone up to?
“Hackers can now spy on your physical life, too – just by hijacking your smartphone’s camera,” reports the New Scientist. “PlaceRaider, developed at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Indiana, takes control of your phone’s camera to take photos of your surroundings. The images are knitted into a 3-D model that the hacker can examine to find valuable objects or information. To make sure that someone is unaware that their phone is snapping away, PlaceRaider mutes the tell-tale sounds of the shutter closing and hides the preview picture that appears when a photo is taken.”
Your busy brain
“Most of the actions that people take for granted are the result of a set of complex decisions that the brain deals with,” says SciTechDaily.com. “The decisions about how to aim the body, how hard to hold handles, and how to raise cups are something that no one often consciously thinks of, yet the brain does all of these without missing a beat. A new Northwestern University study shows that not only does the brain handle such complex decisions, it also hides this information from the conscious mind. … The brain is constantly making decisions that people don’t know about or understand.”
The stress of voting
A new study shows that voting in national elections is a stressful event with measurable hormonal changes, reports Psych Central. The research was conducted on Israel’s election day in 2009 with people who were on their way to vote. “Emotional changes are related and affect various physiological processes, but we were surprised that voting in national democratic elections causes emotional reactions accompanied by such … stress that can easily influence our decision-making,” said Hagit Cohen, PhD, from the Anxiety and Stress Research Unit at Ben-Gurion University.
“An early childhood surrounded by books and educational toys will leave positive fingerprints on a person’s brain well into their late teens, a two-decade-long research study has shown,” reports The Guardian. “Scientists found that the more mental stimulation a child gets around the age of four, the more developed the parts of their brains dedicated to language and cognition will be in the decades ahead. It is known that childhood experiences influences brain development but the only evidence scientists have had for this has come from extreme cases such as children who had been abused or suffered trauma. Martha Farah, director of the centre for neuroscience and society at the University of Pennsylvania, who led the latest study, wanted to find out how a normal range of experiences in childhood might influence the development of the brain.”
Teens facing the unknown
“Teenagers have a reputation for risk-taking, but they may be getting a bad rap,” writes Kevin Lewis in The Boston Globe. “When presented with a choice between a sure bet and a gamble, adolescents were actually less willing than adults to take the same gamble with known odds. However, in the case of gambles where the exact odds were not known, adolescents were more willing to take the gamble. These differences held up even when controlling for personality, IQ and socioeconomic status. So teenagers aren’t risk-takers per se; they’re just more willing to venture into the unknown.”
Thought du jour
“Impatient people always arrive too late.”
French novelist (1920-2011)