With a TED substitute – The strange emerging world of nanoscience:
Go ahead and get completely hammered before your test in the morning. There won’t be any significant academic effects:
In a first-of-its kind controlled experiment, researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) and Brown University have found that surprisingly, binge drinking the night before a test does not impact college students’ test performance – although it can affect their moods, attention and reaction times.
The study, which appears in the April 2010 edition of the journal Addiction, was conducted by Jonathan Howland, professor of community health sciences at BUSPH , and Damaris Rohsenow, research professor at Brown’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies.
The study found that intoxication in the evening did not affect students’ next day scores on academic tests requiring long-term memory, or on tests of recently learned material. Binge drinking did, however, slow participants’ attention/reaction times and worsen mood states – impacts that could affect safety-related behaviors, such as driving.
Howland said the research team was surprised by the test-taking results because some prior studies have found that occupational performance was impaired the day after intoxication. But, he explained, “We looked at one particular academic outcome. Test-taking is only one measure of academic success.”
The researchers also noted that binge drinking could affect other types of academic performance, such as essay-writing and problem-solving requiring higher-order cognitive skills.
“We do not conclude… that excessive drinking is not a risk factor for academic problems,” the researchers wrote. “It is possible that a higher alcohol dose would have affected next-day academic test scores. Moreover, test-taking is only one factor in academic success. Study habits, motivation and class attendance also contribute to academic performance; each of these could be affected by intoxication.”
Also, a little science… Could paralysis be extinct within 10 years? A new approach offers promising results:
The leg wasn’t bouncing all over the table, but there were substantial twitches,” says Matthew Schiefer, a neural engineer at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
Schiefer is describing an experiment in which pulses of electricity are used to control the muscles of an unconscious patient, as if they were a marionette. It represents the beginnings of a new generation of devices that he hopes will allow people with paralysed legs to regain control of their muscles and so be able to stand, or even walk again.
His is one of a raft of gadgets being developed that plug into the network of nerves that normally relay commands from the spinal cord to the muscles, but fall silent when a spinal injury breaks the chain. New ways to connect wires to nerves (see diagram) allow artificial messages to be injected to selectively control muscles just as if the signal had originated in the brain. Limbs that might otherwise never again be controlled by their owners can be brought back to life.
The potential of this approach was demonstrated in 2006 when a different Case Western team enabled someone who was paralysed from the waist down to watch their usually motionless knees straighten at the push of a button. With a little support they even stood for 2 minutes while signals injected into nerves in their thighs kept their knees straight.