Yes, parents: Pokémon does rewire brains of kids + Lyme disease cases rise in the US

Lyme disease cases are increasing in the US

EXCERPTS: You may want to be more wary when walking in the woods this summer. The rate of Lyme disease cases has been climbing in the last two decades [...] The symptoms are similar to those caused by COVID-19. ... There are roughly 30,000 cases reported each year ... The highest incidence of Lyme disease ... were reported from 15 states and the District of Columbia: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

"Typically, Lyme disease is not acquired in the southeastern United States and central Texas," says Dr. Paul Auwaerter [...] Lyme disease is more common in northern states because of large numbers of the deer tick's preferred hosts: white-footed mice and deer ... However even though the disease is primarily found up North, a survey ... revealed that Lyme disease cases have been reported in all 50 states. "Lyme disease is a bigger risk to more people in the United States than ever before," said Dr. Harvey W. Kaufman ... While they may transmit other diseases, ticks common in other parts of the country ... are not known to transmit Lyme disease, according to the CDC. (MORE - details)

This is your brain on Pokémon

INTRO: Back in 1996, Jesse Gomez memorized over 150 Pokémon by sight while playing the Nintendo Gameboy version of the popular anime. Little did he know that Gomez’s geeky point of pride would become the basis for a clever experiment 23 years later, that looks at how the brain processes new types of visual information.

As a neuroscientist at Stanford University researching the neural pathways inside the visual cortex, Gomez took fMRI images of brains of adults (including his own) who had and had not played Pokémon as kids. The images showed a striking contrast between the Pokémon experts and the novices. The brains of those Pokémon aficionados universally lit up in a specific subregion, the occipitotemporal sulcus, or OTS, while the OTS remained relatively inactive in the brains of people unfamiliar with the Pokémon monsters.

Although several studies had previously shown that developing brains dedicate entire regions to process word forms, faces or shapes, Gomez’s study was one of the first to show that other forms of information produced a dedicated zone as well. Additionally, the experiment showed that the pixelated, small-screen animations of the Pokémon combined with the game players intense focus on the characters had a large role in determining where the visual information was processed in the brain.

In the future, Gomez and his lab is hoping the research could apply to certain therapies. Although this basic understanding of the human visual system may seem trivial to Pokémon neophytes, he hopes that understanding visual information pathways may one day lead to a better understanding, and perhaps treatment, of disorders, such as dyslexia or dysgraphia.

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