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Heartbeats help people see

Heart pulses improved how well people were able to spot a flash of a hard-to-see ring, a new study shows.

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Guest post by Laura Sanders

Each heartbeat creates a blip of neural activity in the brain, and that blip may help people better sense their world.

People were more likely to spot a flash of a hard-to-see ring when the image was presented right after a heartbeat, researchers report March 9 in Nature Neuroscience. The neural jolt produced by a heartbeat primes the brain to better detect the ring.

The results are an example of how bodily functions can have a big effect on the brain. 

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