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Researchers have found that playing video games as a child can improve working memory years later. Unsplash

In a good news to video game lovers, researchers have found that playing video games as a child can improve working memory years later.

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, shows how cognitive changes can take place even years after people stop playing.


For the findings, the research team involved 27 people between the ages of 18 and 40 with and without any kind of experience with video gaming.

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“People who were avid gamers before adolescence, despite no longer playing, performed better with the working memory tasks,”

said study author Marc Palaus from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) in Spain.

The researchers analysed participants’ cognitive skills, including working memory, at three points: before starting the training in video gaming, at the end of the training, and 15 days later. The video game used was Nintendo’s Super Mario 64.


People without experience of playing video games as a child did not benefit from improvements in processing and inhibiting irrelevant stimuli. Unsplash

The study also included 10 sessions of transcranial magnetic stimulation. This is non-invasive brain stimulation through the skin without the need to get to the brain tissue that temporarily changes the brain’s activity.

“It uses magnetic waves which, when applied to the surface of the skull, are able to produce electrical currents in underlying neural populations and modify their activity,” explained Palaus.

The results show that people without experience of playing video games as a child did not benefit from improvements in processing and inhibiting irrelevant stimuli. They were slower than those who had played games as children.

Also Read: Know the Negative Impact of Covid-19 Lockdown on Kids Here

“We aimed to achieve lasting changes. Under normal circumstances, the effects of this stimulation can last from milliseconds to tens of minutes,”

Palaus said.

We wanted to achieve improved performance of certain brain functions that lasted longer than this,” Palaus added.

“Video games are a perfect recipe for strengthening our cognitive skills, almost without our noticing,” the study authors wrote. (IANS)


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NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has for the first time spotted signs of a planet transiting a star outside of the Milky Way galaxy, opening up a new avenue to search for exoplanets at greater distances than ever before.

The possible exoplanet -- or planets outside of our Solar System -- candidate is located in the spiral galaxy Messier 51 (M51), also called the Whirlpool Galaxy because of its distinctive profile, NASA said in a statement.

Astronomers have, so far, found all other known exoplanets and exoplanet candidates in the Milky Way galaxy, almost all of them less than about 3,000 light-years from Earth.

An exoplanet in M51 would be about 28 million light-years away, meaning it would be thousands of times farther away than those in the Milky Way, NASA said.

"We are trying to open up a whole new arena for finding other worlds by searching for planet candidates at X-ray wavelengths, a strategy that makes it possible to discover them in other galaxies," said Rosanne Di Stefano of the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard and Smithsonian (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the study.

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The exoplanet candidate was spotted in a binary system called M51-ULS-1, located in M51. This binary system contains a black hole or neutron star orbiting a companion star with a mass about 20 times that of the Sun. The X-ray transit they found using Chandra data lasted about three hours, during which the X-ray emission decreased to zero.

Based on this and other information, the team estimates the exoplanet candidate in M51-ULS-1 would be roughly the size of Saturn and orbit the neutron star or black hole at about twice the distance of Saturn from the Sun.

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However, more data would be needed to verify the interpretation as an extragalactic exoplanet. One challenge is that the planet candidate's large orbit means it would not cross in front of its binary partner again for about 70 years, thwarting any attempts for a confirming observation for decades, NASA said.

Named in honor of the late Indian-American Nobel laureate, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, the Chandra X-ray Observatory is the world's most powerful X-ray telescope. It has eight times greater resolution and is able to detect sources more than 20-times fainter than any previous X-ray telescope.

Known to the world as Chandra (which means "moon" or "luminous" in Sanskrit), Chandrasekhar was widely regarded as one of the foremost astrophysicists of the twentieth century. (IANS/JB)


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