Video games may increase brain power
DisobeyArt/Shutterstock If smartphones and the Internet can cause our brains to be overloaded, what about video games? Scientists are now discovering that video games may actually have benefits for the brain. A recent review of research found that gamers show improvements in the brain regions involved in attention. Evidence also exists that video games can increase the size and efficiency of the regions of the brain that control visuospatial skills. Researchers are even developing video games that can modify regions of the brain that control mood—there’s one video game that treats depression. (Check out these other little-known health benefits of playing video games.) But be careful—video games can also be addictive, due to the structural changes they cause in the brain’s reward system.
The brain is “awake” during sleep
Nikolaev Mikhail/Shutterstock Although it seems like sleep would be time for the brain to rest, there’s actually a lot going on in your noggin when you’re snoozing, which is one of the reasons sleep is important for the brain. “Even when we are sleeping, areas such as the frontal cortex that controls our higher-level thinking and awareness, and the somatosensory cortex that allows us to sense our surroundings, are active,” Dr. Tarawneh says. Studies have shown that even in deep non-REM sleep, our brain is more active than previously thought. Find out why waking up in the middle of the night could mean your brain is in trouble.
Being in a coma isn’t like being asleep
HearttoHeart/Shutterstock In soap operas, people always wake refreshed from comas, like they’ve just had a great night’s sleep—but according to research, this isn’t the case. Comas are a prolonged state of unconsciousness, but nothing like sleep. “Brain wave EEG readings for someone in a coma are very different from those of someone sleeping,” says sleep expert Richard Shane, PhD, creator of the Sleep Easily method. “During a coma, a person does not move, as people in a non-dreaming state do. A person in a coma is unresponsive to his or her environment and cannot be awakened by any stimulation, including pain.” Because of the lack of brain activity in comas, those who awaken may have damage or need to rehabilitation to get their noggin working again. Find out more about what it’s really like to be in a coma.