Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

New Study: Violent Video Games Make You A Better Learner - facilitates learning that could be useful for other tasks -

New Study: Violent Video Games Make You A Better Learner - facilitates learning that could be useful for other tasks - 

Call of Duty, Battlefield, Grand Theft Auto (GTA). When action video games are discussed in the media, it's more often for their controversial content and their potentially harmful effects on behavior than for their virtues. But as data accumulates, it's becoming undeniable that they can also be beneficial for the brain.

Daphné Bavelier, a cognitive science professor at the University of Geneva, has been studying the effects of video games on the brain for the past 10 years. It's a field that she discovered accidentally in the course of a neuroscience study in which one of the volunteers accomplished tests with disconcerting ease. He was also a video game expert, which made her explore this new lead. Since then, she has discovered numerous links between these games and certain cognitive functions.

Until now, most of these studies have simply listed the effects of these games without really explaining the mechanisms. "Video games, especially action games, have effects on functions that, in principle, have no connection between each other — for instance, visual acuity and decision-making," Bavelier says. "So finding a common mechanism to all these effects isn't easy."

It is, however, what she and her team have done in a study recently published in PNAS, the official scientific journal of the National Academy of Sciences. According to their conclusions, video games may in fact facilitate learning new skills. "We have discovered that if gamers have, for instance, better visual acuity, it is not because video games have given them a better eyesight, but rather because they have learned to see better," Bavelier explains.

The typical action video game is the FPS (first-person shooter). Like in the popular Call of Duty game, the player is in control of a character and sees through his eyes. The action takes place in dangerous worlds, is partly unpredictable, and requires constant anticipation of what is happening outside the field of vision to be able to react quickly and survive.

The researchers mainly wanted to determine whether these video games really have an effect on learning. To do so, they recruited 20 volunteers, including FPS experts and occasional players of other types of video games.


How Doctors Prescribing Meds based on Drug Company Payoffs is further evidence of a Systemic Failure -

How Doctors Prescribing Meds based on Drug Company Payoffs is further evidence of a Systemic Failure - 

When the drug maker Genentech introduced a major product in 2006, it found itself in an awkward position: persuading eye doctors to start using its new more expensive drug instead of a popular cheaper version that the company already sold.

Ophthalmologists had been enthusiastically using the company’s cancer drug Avastin, which cost about $50 a dose, to treat a common eye disease in the elderly, wet macular degeneration. Then Genentech introduced Lucentis, a nearly equivalent drug that cost $2,000 a dose and was approved specifically to treat the disease.

Now, a new federal database shows that many of the doctors who were the top billers for Lucentis were also among the highest-paid consultants for Genentech, earning thousands of dollars to help promote the drug. The data raises questions about whether financial relationships between doctors and drug companies influence treatment decisions, even though physicians maintain they cannot be swayed.

Half of the 20 doctors who received the most money from Genentech to promote Lucentis in 2013 were among the highest users of the drug in 2012, billing for higher amounts of Lucentis than 75 percent of their peers. The figures were compiled from two federal databases that covered different periods, and it is not known whether or how much Genentech paid the doctors in 2012.

– From the New York Times article: Paid to Promote Eye Drug, and Prescribing It Widely