50% of people can see in the dark
At least half of the population may have the ability to see in the dark, according to a new study.
The research, published in the journal Psychological Science, aimed to objectively measure the ability to see in the dark and find out whether people who have claimed to possess this ability are accurately reporting what they are visualizing.
Researchers from the University of Rochester in New York and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee conducted experiments on 129 people from New York, Tennessee, Michigan and South Korea.
The participants in this study were all people with synesthesia, which means that they have “blended senses” and can, for example, see, hear music or experience taste when they hear sounds and see numbers or letters in specific colors.
In the first experiment, participants were blindfolded and were told that they would see “motion under low lighting conditions.” In a second experiment, the same participants wore the same blindfolds and were told they would see nothing.
In both experiments, the blindfolded participants were told to wave their own hands in front of the blindfolds and to report whether they could see their hands. They were also told to report whether they saw when researchers waved their hands in front of the participants’ blindfolded eyes. Researchers told the participants that the blindfolds had holes, when in reality they did not, in order to create “false expectations.”
Researchers found that about 50 percent of the participants were able to detect their own hand movements consistently. However, the participants reported seeing no movement when the researchers waved their hands in front of the participants’ faces.
Findings suggest that people with synesthesia may be better able to see self-motion in the dark than people without it. However, seeing in total darkness does not typically happen, according to the current understanding of natural vision, researchers said.
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Brain chemical may help treat jet lag
Researchers have found that a chemical in the brain, called VIP, may serve as a way to reset biological clock cells.
This research is the first of its kind to show that a naturally-occurring chemical in the brain can improve the function of the sleep cycle, which may have implications for people who suffer from sleep problems caused by jet lag or erratic schedules.
In the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers hypothetically ‘flew mice to a new time zone’ by shifting their light schedules, in order to induce real-life feelings of jet lag. When the mice were given a shot of VIP the day before the “flight,” they were able to cut the ‘jet lag’ in half.
Results showed that, while VIP normally helps synchronize biological clock cells, high doses of VIP essentially knocked the cells out of sync and allowed the mice to quickly reset their sleep cycle.
Researchers said they hope that these findings will lead to the development of new sleep treatments involving VIP or ones that mimic the effects of VIP.
Going into space accelerates aging
Being in outer space may accelerate cardiovascular disease and the aging of blood vessel cells, according to new research published in The FASEB Journal.
Researchers conducted experiments on the International Space Station in order to analyze how blood vessel cells change in space. They compared space-flown cells to cells in normal gravity and found that space-flown cells demonstrated significant oxidative stress, inflammation and biological aging.
The findings mean that people who fly into space need to take precautions to remain in the best health possible, especially the deeper into space they go.
More research into what happens on a cellular and molecular level during the aging process of blood vessel cells may also help researchers find ways to prevent premature aging.