Weekly Brainwave
Dec. 13, 2011

Have a 'Weekly Brainwave' with American Mensa
American Mensa
Here it is! American Mensa is proud to debut our Weekly Brainwave, a thought-provoking news brief custom-built to send only the most interesting Mensa-relevant news straight to your inbox in a convenient, concise format. Have your Brainwave on the go with the free mobile app! Just search for and download "Multibriefs" in your favorite app store and add the Mensa feed.More

Academic acceleration for gifted kids: Is fast track the right track?
Asian Scientist
According to a recent major national study, parents and teachers are generally supportive of academic acceleration but have misplaced concerns about the emotional impact of fast-tracking education. "There is a genuine, yet misplaced concern for the welfare of high-ability students," said international expert on gifted education Professor Miraca Gross. More

Happy holidays with half-price home tests!
American Mensa
Happy holidays! As a gift to you, American Mensa is offering the Mensa Home Test for half price! Get your online or delivered home test for only $9 Dec. 12-16. The Mensa Home Test is a fun way to discover if you are Mensa material. While this timed test will not qualify you for membership, it does offer a strong indication of your likelihood for success should you choose to take our admission test. Find out more at www.us.mensa.org/mht.More

Brains of taxi drivers change as they learn to navigate the streets
Medical News Today
The process of learning to navigate and locate thousands of city streets and places of interest causes structural changes in the brains of London taxi drivers, according to a new study published in Current Biology. The findings should encourage those interested in life-long learning and undergoing rehabilitation after brain injury, as they show the adult brain is more "plastic" than we thought when faced with new challenges, said the authors.More

Chimps experience synesthetic sense-intermingling, like humans do
Scientific American
Chimpanzees meld sounds and colors, associating light objects with high tones and dark objects with deeper tones. The finding hints that chimps, like humans, experience some form of synesthetes, an uncommon condition in which the senses become intertwined, says Vera Ludwig, a cognitive neuroscientist at Charité Medical University in Berlin, Germany, who led a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Some synesthetes associate different colors with letters and numbers, for instance, whereas others taste shapes.More

One of the world's smallest electronic circuits created
A team of scientists, led by Guillaume Gervais from McGill's Physics Department and Mike Lilly from Sandia National Laboratories, has engineered one of the world's smallest electronic circuits. It is formed by two wires separated by only about 150 atoms or 15 nanometers. The discovery, published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, could have a significant effect on the speed and power of the ever smaller integrated circuits of the future in everything from smartphones to desktop computers, televisions and GPS systems.More

House-hunting honey bees work like complex brains
Swarms of honey bees split off from their mother colony and go house-hunting, looking for a secure cavity in a tree or elsewhere that will make a good home for the new colony. In this process, they communicate to each other what they have found by dancing: a scout bee returning from a good site moves over and over in a figure-eight pattern that indicates the direction and the distance to the site, and other scouts read these dances and inspect the site themselves.More

How playing violent video games may change the brain
Research finds that children who play violent video games or watch violent TV can become violent themselves, but what drives this change? Are they simply mimicking what they see on the screen, or could gaming have a more profound effect on their brains, affecting behavior? To explore that question, Dr. Vincent Matthews and his colleagues at Indiana University, who have long studied media violence, looked at what happened in the brain in 28 students who were randomly assigned to play either a violent, first-person shooter game or a non-violent one every day for a week. None of the participants had much previous gaming experience.More

How do new periodic table elements get their names?
Mental Floss
Two new elements are joining old chemistry-class favorites on the periodic table. The latest inductees — number 114, flerovium (Fl) and number 116, livermorium (Lv) — were revealed by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry and are now open for public discussion. Naming an element is an "arduous" process, says Kenneth Chang at The New York Times. The current names are merely proposals put forth by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, "the scientific body that is the keeper of the list of elements."More

Opinion: Cheating the gifted?
Education Week's Teacher in a Strange Land Blog
It's an argument that seems to bubble up cyclically. It doesn't matter what the hot policy idea du jour is, someone is bound to assert: What we're doing right now does not serve the needs of the gifted!More

Patterns seen in spider silk and melodies connected
Using a new mathematical methodology, researchers at MIT have created a scientifically rigorous analogy that shows the similarities between the physical structure of spider silk and the sonic structure of a melody, proving that the structure of each relates to its function in an equivalent way.More

The health risks of being left-handed
The Wall Street Journal via Fox News
Left-handers have been the subject of curiosity, stigma and even fear over the centuries. Researchers now, however, are recognizing the scientific importance of understanding why people use one hand or the other to write, eat or toss a ball. Handedness, as the dominance of one hand over the other is called, provides a window into the way our brains are wired, experts say. And it may help shed light on disorders related to brain development, like dyslexia, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, which are more common in left-handed people. More