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Despite what it seems, Netflix isn't a dominant force everywhere on the planet. In fact, it's struggling in the Middle East and northern Africa — Netflix and Amazon combined represent 21 percent of the local subscription video space. The company is…
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Can a Brain Zap Really Boost Your Memory?

If this is the first you’re hearing about electrical stimulation of the brain, you’re probably imaging it as a plot device central to a Netflix Original Black Mirror / House of Cards crossover; some kind of torture method to get spies of the future to spill it.

Not only are these techniques not torturous, they’re not even particularly futuristic. Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) has been used to treat neurological conditions like Parkinson’s and epilepsy for decades, and it’s now been explored as a way of keeping symptoms of dementia at bay. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), has existed since the 1980s as a treatment for major depression.

TMS uses magnetic pulses and has long been the less invasive of the two, but both techniques rely on the ability to target only certain areas of the brain. This is especially important in DBS, which uses electrodes implanted into the patient’s brain to target specific regions. As you might expect, implanting an electrode into someone’s brain so you can send an electrical current to it is not something neuroscientists do willy-nilly just to run experiments. Generally speaking, the research we have about these methods draws on the experiences of patients who already have the implants for treatment.

Image Credit: Creative Commons
Image Credit: Creative Commons

Two recent studies, one from the Mayo Clinic and the other from the University of Pennsylvania, looked at whether these therapies could have unrealized potential. Patients with degenerative neurological conditions can certainly have trouble with their memory, but could these therapies also be used in patients who don’t have a neurological disorder in need of treatment?

In order to study the effect of well-placed electrical zaps to the brain had on memory, researchers in the Mayo study asked groups of patients to try to remember a list of words as they zapped a few different regions of their brains. Of the 22 patients in the study, the four who had the lateral temporal cortex region of their brain electrically stimulated recalled more words than the others. This probably wasn’t a coincidence, because that’s the part of our brain that helps us process language.

Meanwhile, the researchers at the University of Pennsylvania were less concerned about which region got the electrical jolt, and more concerned about the timing of it. Their previous research had shown that zapping the brain at the wrong moment could actually have a negative effect on the patient’s ability to remember (oops). The Penn researchers also had a little help the second time around: a computer model that would help them get the timing just right by assessing how well a patient’s learning was going.

Based on the patient’s brain activity, the computer model could tell when they’d learned the words given to them in a memory test – and when they hadn’t. The electrical impulse was triggered whenever the model determined the patient hadn’t learned the word effectively.

The researchers may have been on to something when it came to not just well-placed, but well-timed, zaps: the study showed that they enhanced a patient’s learning and memory by up to 15 percent.

Both of these studies were limited in scope, though. Researchers elsewhere in neuroscience who have responded to the results are generally wary and point out that they don’t address one of the biggest qualms in the field: would a treatment like this work if the memory area of the brain was damaged?

For the time being, better learning through electrical brain implant is something relegated to the future. If you were hoping to use technology to enhance your memory, you’ll have to stick to those brain-training apps for now.

The post Can a Brain Zap Really Boost Your Memory? appeared first on Futurism.


‘Destiny 2’ update will boost rewards for its most loyal players

Bungie is still learning lessons about rewarding Destiny 2 players for their commitment, and that's reflected in its January 30th update. To begin with, it's promising much better loot for raids. You're now guaranteed raid-only equipment when you c…
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Shazam could give Apple Music a big subscribers boost

Apple’s recent acquisition of Shazam might be a great way for the company to drive subscriber growth, according to one early Shazam investor. DN Capitol chief executive, Nenad Marovac, gained a deep understanding of Shazam’s business model after his firm invested in it back in 2004. Marovac says Shazam will be a great way for […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

Cult of Mac

Innogy installs Philips smart lighting system to boost employee energy levels

Innogy installs Philips smart lighting system to boost employee energy levels

Innogy, the European energy provider, has installed a smart lighting system from Philips Lighting that aims to boost energy levels and workplace comfort, as well as visibility.

Executives at Philips Lighting say that the implementation of LED lighting at energy provider Innogy is “tuned to support the circadian rhythms of Innogy’s office staff”.

Innogy, which serves 23 million customers in Europe, completed a renovation project of its Czech Republic headquarters in Limuzska, Prague in November 2017. The site consists of three buildings housing 550 employees. As part of the revamp, the company wanted an open plan office and a new system of lighting.

The company decided to install a networked lighting system that consisted of approximately 2,000 Philips LED luminaires, including 860 Philips PowerBalance tunable white ceiling fixtures and 96 Philips LuxSpace tuneable white downlights, programmed to provide different light settings at various times of the day.

“At the beginning of the day the office lights mimic natural daylight, providing a useful energy boost. The light levels decrease until after lunch when we give another boost to help staff over the post-lunch energy dip,” said Tomas Michna, senior manager for facility and services at innogy Czech Republic.

Read more: Philips Lighting looks at city life in 2035

Successful office makeover

Michna suggested that the company’s aim to create an “outstanding environment” for employees had been successful.

“Nearly 80 percent of employees surveyed described the new lighting as better or much better than the previous fluorescent tube lighting, while 60 percent agreed that it contributed to a place in which they wanted to work,” he said.

Employees at innogy can also override the light settings at any time, tailoring the light to their needs, using a Philips Antumbra Dynalite control. Meanwhile, the installation included approximately 150 sensors that detect human presence and automatically switch off in empty rooms, saving the company electricity. The combination of LED lighting and controls has helped innogy to reduce electricity usage by around 50 percent compared to the previous fluorescent lighting that was in place.

The concept of smart lighting has been around for several years. Back in 2015, the UK county of Gloucestershire said it would deploy 55,000 LED streetlights to cover 1,000 square miles of the area. They would be wirelessly connected and managed via Telensa’s PLANet Central Management System.

According to Harshvardhan Chitale, vice chairman and managing director of Philips Lighting India, IoT-driven smart lights will “be the default” in the next five to 10 years.

Read more: Analysis: Connected streetlights illuminate path to smart cities

The post Innogy installs Philips smart lighting system to boost employee energy levels appeared first on Internet of Business.

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