In a study conducted in Tübingen, Germany, chess experts and novices were shown geometric objects and chess positions, and were later asked to identify each one of them. Their reaction times and brain activity were closely monitored with the use of functional MRI scans. On the first part, which was recognizing the geometric objects, results reveal that the subjects' performance didn't show any dissimilarities, which implied that the experts' visualization skills are no better than the amateurs'. However, during the identification of the chess positions, the experts were seen to have performed significantly faster and better.
As the researchers geared toward an element of a study previously conducted on pattern and object recognition by the chess experts, they had anticipated to notice areas of the left hemisphere of the experts' brains (involved in object recognition) to be more reactive when they performed the tasks. However, the reaction times of the subjects were virtually identical. The very thing that sets the experts apart from the amateurs is that the former's right brain hemispheres (involved in pattern recognition) were to seen to have also lit up during the activity. Therefore, both sides of the experts' brains were active, processing information in two places simultaneously. The researchers added that when they showed the chess diagrams to the subjects, they observed that the amateurs relied on looking at the pieces intently to be able to recognize them, whereas the experts merely relied on their peripheral vision and looked across the boards.
A study conducted to identify the geometric objects and chess positions among chess players revealed no dissimilarities of recognition of the geometric objects between chess experts and novices, but the experts performed significantly faster and better on identification of the chess positions, because both sides of the their brains were active, processing information in two places simultaneously, and experts merely relied on their peripheral vision and looked across the boards.
Fish are being killed, and prevented from reaching maturity, by the litter of plastic particles finding their way into the world's oceans, new research has proved.
Some young fish have been found to prefer tiny particles of plastic to their natural food sources, effectively starving them before they can reproduce.
The growing problem of microplastics – tiny particles of polymer-type materials from modern industry – has been thought for several years to be a peril for fish, but the study published on Thursday is the first to prove the damage in trials.
Microplastics are near-indestructible in natural environments. They enter the oceans through litter, when waste such as plastic bags, packaging and other convenience materials are discarded. Vast amounts of these end up in the sea, through inadequate waste disposal systems and sewage outfall.
Another growing source is microbeads, tiny particles of hard plastics that are used in cosmetics, for instance as an abrasive in modern skin cleaners. These easily enter waterways as they are washed off as they are used, flushed down drains and forgotten, but can last for decades in our oceans.
The impact of these materials has been hard to measure, despite being a growing source of concern. Small particles of plastics have been found in seabirds, fish and whales, which swallow the materials but cannot digest them, leading to a build-up in their digestive tracts.
For the first time, scientists have demonstrated that fish exposed to such materials during their development show stunted growth and increased mortality rates, as well as changed behaviour that could endanger their survival.
The study published on Thursday is the first to demonstrate fish exposed to microplastics and mirobeads during their development show stunted growth and increased mortality rates, as well as changed behaviour that could endanger their survival, because fish cannot digest these small particles of plastics, leading to a build up in their digestive tracts, effectively starving them before they can reproduce.