How smartphone addiction changes your brain, and why ants lean left

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 December, 2014, 7:52am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 December, 2014, 12:44pm

Rock ants lean to left

European rock ants at a crossroads will most often turn left in a trait that may boost survival, new research reveals.

A team from the universities of Bristol and Oxford tested the ants for displays of lateral bias.

In one experiment, ants exploring a new nest turned left in 35 cases, and right in 19. In the second test, involving a maze with lanes branching into two-pronged forks, ants opted left 50 times and right 30 times.

The authors theorised that such lateral preference would reduce the predation risk of individuals, resulting in most members of the colony herding together in the same place.



Genes to aid diagnosis

British scientists have found 12 genes linked to developmental disorders in children that can cause heart defects, seizures and intellectual disability.

They were found in a trawl of the genomes of 1,133 children with severe, undiagnosed disorders and their parents, said the authors of a study published in the journal Nature.

"These newly implicated genes increase by 10 per cent the proportion of children that could be diagnosed" by identifying the DNA mutations responsible, they wrote.

Common disorders involve growth problems, physical deformities, and learning and behavioural problems.



Mind your phone habit

Your smartphone addiction is doing more than giving your thumbs a workout - it is also changing your brain.

New research suggests that using a smartphone - touching fingertips against the smooth surface of a screen - can make the brain more sensitive to the thumb, index and middle fingertips being touched.

The study, published in the journal Current Biology, found the differences between people when it comes to how the brain responds to thumb stimulation is partly explained by how often they use smartphones.

Washington Post