Our Times: December 2007

 
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safety first

Collision second! Wearing a helmet may improve your chances of contact with a car. On-road research reveals that cars drive closer to helmeted bike riders than unhelmeted ones. It would seem the perceived protection invites calamity. So, use your head.

norovirus

This year’s bout of threeday gastro has reduced some 200,000 Australians to nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and headaches.

Norovirous is particularly contagious due to its ability to spread in droplet form through the air. Consistent personal cleanliness greatly reduces the chances of catching it.

the tuned mind

Scientists report that instruction in music impacts pitch perception, visual, motor and language-processing skills, owing to the multisensory effects of playing an instrument. Listening to music, as opposed to playing, is far less useful in accelerated learning.

REM rebound We dream in lengthening spurts throughout the night. These dream times are called “REM sleep” (named after Rapid Eye Movement during dreaming).

The first five-minute REM sleep comes after 70 minutes of slow-wave sleep. REM sleep lengthens with each occurrence— the finale being a 40-minute dreamscape just before waking. Sleep deprivation breaks the REM sleep cycle, causing longer REM sleep next time.