Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dream a Little Dream of Recall - Those who dream about mazes solve them better

Dream a Little Dream of Recall

As the sleeping brain builds memories it generates dreams about recently learned material

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By Bruce Bower, Science News

People who have nap-time dreams about a task that they’ve just practiced get a big memory boost on the task upon awakening, Harvard researchers report.

Those who dream about anything else have no such enhanced recall, the team reports in a paper published online April 22 in Current Biology. Neither do those who stay awake, even if they think about the task.

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“I was startled by this finding,” says study coauthor Robert Stickgold, a cognitive neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School. “Task-related dreams may get triggered by the sleeping brain’s attempt to consolidate challenging new information and to figure out how to use it.”

His new findings elaborate on research suggesting that sleep generally enhances memory and learning (SN: 4/28/07, p. 260).

Dreaming about a demanding undertaking doesn’t cause enhanced memories for that experience, Stickgold emphasizes. Rather, memory-fortifying brain processes during sleep cause the dreams, he proposes. During slumber, Stickgold posits, a structure called the hippocampus integrates recently learned information, such as how to navigate a virtual maze, while other brain regions apply this information to related but broader situations, such as how to navigate a maze of job application forms.

That’s a “tempting speculation,” remarks physiological psychologist Jan Born of the University of Lübeck in Germany. Stickgold’s idea has much potential for fostering advances in dream research, Born says.

Stickgold’s group focused on dreams that occur during non–rapid eye movement, or NREM, sleep. Previous studies found links between chemical and electrical activity in the brain during NREM sleep and better learning by rats and people. Neural activity sparked by recent learning has not been observed during rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep, which often includes especially vivid and bizarre dream elements.

In the new investigation, 99 college students age 18 to 30 spent an hour practicing a virtual maze task on a computer. In a series of trials, volunteers navigated through a complex, three-dimensional maze, starting from a different spot each time. They were instructed to remember the location of a particular tree in the maze.

For the first 90 minutes of a five-hour break from practicing, students were assigned either to take a nap or to engage in quiet activities such as watching videos.

Nappers’ electrical brain activity was monitored with scalp sensors. Experimenters questioned the students about their dreams just before they fell asleep, after one minute of continuous NREM sleep and at the end of the nap period. Volunteers who stayed awake recounted their thoughts at the start, middle and end of the 90-minute session.

After lunch and a period of quiet activity, participants reentered the virtual maze at random spots and were asked to find the tree that they had previously tried to remember.

Those who had dreamed of the experimental task — four of 50 nappers — found the tree much faster than they had in initial trials. These individuals described dreams such as seeing people at particular locations in a maze or hearing music that had played in the lab during testing.

All of the volunteers who dreamed about the maze had performed relatively poorly during pre-nap training, Stickgold notes. Memory processes invoked by the sleeping brain may respond most strongly to challenges perceived as difficult and important to solve, he suggests.

Stickgold’s group is now designing a more exciting maze task intended to elicit task-related dreams in a larger proportion of volunteers.

The researchers also plan to examine whether people who have REM dreams about a maze task during a full night’s slumber navigate that maze better the next day.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Schwarzenegger Hybrid Maze by Yonatan Frimer

Arnold Schwarzenegger on Hummer Hybrid that gets 100mpg
editorial maze comic about arnold schwarzenegger and the new electric hummer
Editoral Cartoon Maze in Larger and Printable Format
Can't solve the maze? Click here for the maze solution
Editorial Cartoon Maze on Arnold Schwarzenegger commenting his approval of the new hummer. Created by Yonatan frimer and RSL

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Schwarzenegger Hybrid Maze >>Link
Schwarzenegger Praises Green Hummer

California governor and Hummer aficionado Arnold Schwarzenegger hailed a 100-mpg hybrid version of the much-maligned SUV when it was unveiled Monday in Detroit.

The Raser H3 range-extended electric vehicle was among the vehicles Schwarzenegger checked out during the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress, where he called for a national energy policy that promotes efficient vehicles. The governor, a self-professed car lover who owns 12 vehicles, seemed impressed by what he saw.

"There is nothing wrong with the Hummer; it’s great vehicle," he said, according to The Detroit News. "We should change the technology within those vehicles."

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Editorial Maze Cartoon - Iran Geophysics by Yonatan Frimer

Editorial Maze Cartoon - Iran Geophysics
Iran Geophysics, women cause earthquakes Eyjafjallajökull volcano in ice land europe ash cloud
Editoral Cartoon Maze in Larger and Printable Format
Can't solve the maze? Click here for the maze solution

Editorial Cartoon Maze of Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland that erupted an ash cloud over European airspace causing havoc.

Check out more Yonatan Frimer's cartoon mazes at

In case you don't get this this article on CNN...

Promiscuous women cause earthquakes, Iran cleric says

(CNN) -- Women who dress provocatively and tempt people into promiscuity are to blame for earthquakes, a leading Iranian hard-line cleric has apparently said.

The prayer leader, Hojatoleslam Kazim Sadeghi, says women and girls who "don't dress appropriately" spread "promiscuity in society." Read the full article here

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Monday, April 19, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Editorial cartoons on the middle east, Obamacare and Iran

***For Immediate Release***

April 19, 2010 - Tel Aviv, Israel - Cartoonist Yonatan Frimer has released a handful of editorial cartoons to help drum up publicity of his upcoming book. These cartoons may be published for no charge for editorial purposes.

Each of the cartoons is actually also a solvable maze, making them one of the few "interactive" forms of media that can be printed in traditional newspapers.

The cartoons can be viewed and downloaded at

About Team Of Monkeys
Team Of Monkeys is a cartoon created by Yonatan Frimer and RSL, two highly creative professionals that have made a living by poking fun at the ironies of society. In addition to carrying a complex message within the cartoons, each of the images is also a solvable maze, a feature that makes them ideal for reversing the declining market share of traditional newspapers. Both Frimer and RSL are based in Israel and have conflicting political views, making them able to cater to both the left, center and right political leanings.

Yonatan Frimer, Cartoonist
phone: +972-545-683-040

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Maze of Optical Illusion happy face, by Yonatan Frimer

Happiness is an illusion, Maze by Yonatan Frimer
Illusion of Happiness maze by you.
Maze of an optical illusion of a smiley face. Created by Yonatan Frimer

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