Weekend reads: What does death metal really do to your brain? The answer may surprise you.

Ben Palmer's reads

Death metal isn't so deadly. Death metal lyrics sound violent, but fret not, the music itself doesn't desensitize people to violence and in fact might inspire joy, according to a study in Open Science. For the study, researchers asked 32 death metal fans and 48 non-fans to listen to death metal or pop music while simultaneously viewing two different images—a violent one shown to one eye and an innocuous one shown in the other eye. According to lead researcher Yanan Sun, this approach is called "binocular rivalry," which is based on the idea that most people, when presented with a violent image and a neutral image at the same time, will look at the violent one more. "If fans of violent music were desensitized to violence … then they wouldn't show this same bias," Sun said. "But the fans showed the very same bias towards processing these violent images as those who were not fans of the music."

Mushrooms might help prevent memory problems. Eating mushrooms may reduce your risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a form of memory impairment that often turns into Alzheimer's disease, according to a study in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. For the study, researchers assessed data on 663 Chinese men and women over the age of 60, none of whom had any memory problems at the start of the research. In interviews, the participants' diets were recorded, including questions on six commonly eaten types of mushrooms. The researchers found that over the six-year span of the study, those who consumed one to two five-ounce portions of mushrooms a week had a 43% reduced risk of developing MCI compared with those who consumed less than one portion of mushrooms a week. Those who consumed more than two portions of mushrooms a week had a 52% reduced risk of developing MCI.

Danielle Poindexter's reads

That's a lot of pie. Google on Pi Day—which was Wednesday—announced that developer advocate Emma Haurka Iwao beat the world record for calculating pi. Iwao used Google's cloud platform to calculate 31.4 trillion decimal places of pi, beating the previous world record by nine trillion digits. According to Iwao, it took four months and "a lot of storage and memory to calculate" that many decimal places. Iwao said her team used the same amount of data as the Library of Congress print collection. Now that Iwao and her team smashed the world record, Iwao said they "look forward to sinking [their] teeth into other great challenges," adding that "the world of math and sciences is full of records just waiting to be broken." 

Why that TV commercial actor looks familiar. Do you feel déjà vu when you see a certain TV actor? It's probably because you've seen them over 50 times before. For TV commercials, advertisers seek to hire actors who look "relatable, empathetic," which sometimes means they end up hiring the same group of actors over and over. One actor and acting coach, Bill Coelius, said looking like "every white guy on the couch," has helped him succeed as a commercial TV actor. Coelius, to date, has been in over 50 national commercials. But some of the less seasoned actors might seem familiar simply because advertisers hire people who look like they could be your "friend or your cousin or your cousin's friend," Rebecca Jennings writes for Vox.


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