Weekly News Bites: The Dragon Firefighter and how pets and illusions help your brain

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are a dragon-like robot that can fight fires, how having a pet can avoid cognitive decline, and how an illusion can help us learn motor skills.

A pet is not just good for companionship but can also help keep your brain healthier. Older adults that live alone can show signs of cognitive decline faster than those that live with others. By reducing loneliness, owning pets can also help keep their brain healthier for longer as shown by Sun Yat-sen University that observed a reduced rate of cognitive decline in older adults that owned a pet.

Scientists from the University of the Philippines – Diliman warn that typhoons will become stronger and deadlier this century. The team used simulations based on recent impactful typhoons and created a model that shows the climate conditions that will be created by climate change. They saw that warmer and more humid conditions may make the typhoons last longer over land and become more damaging.

Tohoku University has created every child’s dream: a dragon-like robot that can fight fires. The robot is made up of a large hose that uses water propulsion to “fly”. The Dragon Firefighter can extend to extinguish fires that are too dangerous for humans. Ever wanted to build your own Dragon Firefighter robot? Well now you can thanks to their Open Science approach.

To really study a virus, researchers must be able to grow it in a lab. Then they can test it in various environments, temperatures, and with different nutrients to see how it grows or how to stop it growing. National University of Singapore scientists have found a way to grow the difficult human norovirus (responsible for acute gastroenteritis) in zebrafish embryos. This will help researchers around the world study it better.

AI can help with many aspects of healthcare, such as through providing diagnostic support. The Chinese University of Hong Kong has tested whether AI-assisted colonoscopies can help junior doctors for better polyp detection. When split into two groups, the junior practitioners that had AI assistance had a higher detection rate of adenomas than the doctors by themselves.

Tricking your body into thinking its moving can help with learning motor skills according to a new study by Tokyo Metropolitan University. Using visual-motor illusion (VMI) can create a feeling of movement that helps people improve performance for new movement (or motor actions), such as rolling metal balls in one hand as was performed in the experiment. While this is beneficial for healthy people, the researchers hope that this can eventually help rehabilitate patients.