And now, the news that every parent dreads. Researchers reported yesterday that first-person-shooter video games -- the kind that require players to kill or maim enemies or monsters that pop out of nowhere -- sharply improve visual attention skills. \nExperienced players of these games are 30 percent to 50 percent better than non-players at taking in everything that happens around them, according to the research, which was published in the journal Nature. They identify objects in their peripheral vision, perceiving numerous objects without having to count them, switch attention rapidly and track many items at once. \nNor are players simply faster at these tasks, said Dr. Daphne Bavelier, an associate professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Rochester, who led the study. First-person action games increase the brain's capacity to spread attention over a wide range of events. Other types of action games, including those that focus on strategy or role playing, do not produce the same effect. \nWhile some researchers have suggested possible links between video games and other abilities, this study is thought to be the first to explore their effects on visual skills. Though the number of subjects was small, Bavelier said, the effects were too large to be a result of chance. \n"We were really surprised," Bavelier said, adding that as little as 10 hours of play substantially increased visual skills among novice players. "You get better at a lot of things, not just the game," she said. \nBut Bavelier emphasized that the improved visual attention skills did not translate to reading, writing and mathematics. Nor is it clear that they lead to higher IQ scores, although visual attention and reaction time are important components of many standardized tests. \n"Please, keep doing your homework," said Bavelier, the mother of 6-year-old twins and a 2-year old. \nDr. Jeremy Wolfe, the director of the Visual Attention Laboratory at Harvard Medical School, who was not involved in the study, said he was intrigued at the idea that "socially dubious games might improve something like general intelligence." \n"It might give every 14-year-old something to tell his parents," Wolfe said. " `Hey, don't make me study. Give me another grenade.'"
Japan’s Mount Aso erupted yesterday, spewing a giant column of ash thousands of meters into the sky as hikers rushed away from the popular tourist spot. No injuries were immediately reported after the late-morning eruption in southwest Japan, which sent rocks flying in a dramatic blast captured by nearby CCTV cameras. People were warned not to approach the volcano as it ejected hot gas and ash as high as 3,500m, and sent stones tumbling down its grassy slopes. Authorities were checking if any hikers had been trapped or injured, officials told local media, as TV footage showed dozens of vehicles and tour buses
PROMPTING MOCKERY : A cryptic announcement of the pianist’s detention by Beijing police was followed by CCTV commenting on the ‘social morality’ of celebrities Concert pianist Li Yundi (李雲迪), one of China’s most famous musicians, has been detained in Beijing over prostitution allegations, state media said on Thursday, prompting some incredulity and a lot of mockery on Chinese social media. Reuters was unable to immediately reach Li or a representative for comment. Police in the Chinese capital’s Chaoyang District said they had detained a 39-year-old man surnamed Li, along with a 29-year-old female surnamed Chen, after receiving reports from the public of prostitution in a neighborhood they did not identify. Both people confessed to the illegal activity, the police said in a statement on a microblogging platform. The
Sri Lanka has barred a Chinese ship carrying desperately needed organic fertilizer that experts have found to be tainted with harmful bacteria, officials said yesterday. The ban comes as Sri Lanka battles food shortages caused by a currency crisis. Farmers have said that a ban on chemical fertilizer could ruin their crops this year. The office of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that the Sri Lankan National Plant Quarantine Services had tested a sample from the unnamed Chinese vessel and “confirmed the presence of organisms, including certain types of harmful bacteria.” The Sri Lankan Commercial High Court has banned any payment to
DEMAND-DRIVEN: The report, produced by Greenpeace and TheTreeMap, said law enforcement has allowed palm oil plantations on UNESCO sites, parks and tiger habitats Almost one-fifth of the land used for Indonesian palm oil plantations is located in the country’s forest conservation areas, despite a law banning such activity, a study by Greenpeace has found. The report, produced by Greenpeace and TheTreeMap, describes a catastrophic failure of law enforcement that has permitted swathes of land — including UNESCO sites, national parks and areas mapped as habitats for orangutans and Sumatran tigers — to be cultivated as palm oil plantations. Indonesia is the world’s biggest producer of palm oil, which is used in many everyday products and foods, from shampoo and lipstick to chocolate and frozen pizzas. However,