It’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere, for many a time to seek rest, relaxation and a good book. The good news is that finding the time to sit and read could actually result in positive physical changes to our brains.

A recent study indicated that reading a novel caused long-lasting alterations in the resting-state connectivity of the brain.

“Stories shape our lives and in some cases help define a person,” commented neuroscientist Gregory Berns, lead author of the study and the director of Emory University’s Center for Neuropolicy. “We want to understand how stories get into your brain, and what they do to it.”
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A new study using brain imaging has discovered that burning the candle at both ends could send us into premature aging.

Brain shrinkage is a normal part of the aging process but the study, which was led by Dr. June Lo, a researcher with Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore, indicated that these changes were exacerbated with every hour of sleep lost per night.

Dr. Lo and her team examined data from the sleep patterns of 66 Chinese adults who were all over 55 years of age. Prior to taking part in the research project, the subjects had all undergone magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to measure brain volume in specific areas and had taken tests to assess their cognitive skills.
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Watching the first kick of the football at the start of this year’s World Cup was a very special moment, as the kick was taken by a paraplegic wearing an amazing mind-controlled exo-skeleton.

Juliano Pinto, a 29-year-old Brazilian man suffering from paralysis in his lower body, was able to control the legs of the special suit using his thoughts alone. The suit, known as the "Mindwalker" , is part of a research study entitled the Walk Again Project, an international collaboration involving several universities worldwide which is focusing on the use of cutting edge technology to liberate those with severe paralysis.
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Last week on Unknown Country we ran a story which put forward a theory that, if food supplies run short in the future, we could turn to the insect world to provide a source of protein for our nutritional needs.

Subscribers had mixed views on the subject, but for those of you who dismissed the idea as outlandish or unthinkable, think again. Research from Washington University in St. Louis suggests that insects have already played a significant role in our past diet and may even have been the driving evolutionary force behind the development of our large brains.
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