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Tue, 02 Jun 2020
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Learning a second language - Is it all in your head?

Think you haven't got the aptitude to learn a foreign language? New research led by Northwestern University neuroscientists suggests that the problem, quite literally, could be in your head.

"Our study links brain anatomy to the ability to learn a second language in adulthood," said neuroscientist Patrick Wong, assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders at Northwestern and lead author of a study appearing online today (July 25) at , in Cerebral Cortex.

Based on the size of Heschl's Gyrus (HG), a brain structure that typically accounts for no more than 0.2 percent of entire brain volume, the researchers found they could predict -- even before exposing study participants to an invented language -- which participants would be more successful in learning 18 words in the "pseudo" language.

Wong and his colleagues measured the size of HG, a finger-shaped structure in both the right and left side of the brain, using a method developed by co-authors Virginia Penhune and Robert Zatorre (Montreal Neurological Institute). Zatorre and Penhune are well known for research on human speech and music processing and the brain.

"We found that the size of left HG, but not right HG, made the difference," said Northwestern's Catherine Warrier, a primary author of the article titled "Volume of Left Heschl's Gyrus and Linguistic Pitch." Anil K. Roy (Northwestern), Abdulmalek Sadehh (West Virginia University) and Todd Parish (Northwestern) also are co-authors.

Black Cat

Why do people love horror movies? They enjoy being scared

A bedrock assumption in theories that explain and predict human behavior is people's motivation to pursue pleasure and avoid pain. How can this be reconciled with the decision to engage in experiences known to elicit negative feelings, such as horror movies" It certainly seems counterintuitive that so many people would voluntarily immerse themselves in almost two hours of fear, disgust and terror. "Why do people pay for this?" "How is this enjoyable?"

Investigators generally use one of two theories to explain why people like horror movies. The first is that the person is not actually afraid, but excited by the movie. The second explanation is that they are willing to endure the terror in order to enjoy a euphoric sense of relief at the end. But, a new study by Eduardo Andrade (University of California, Berkeley) and Joel B. Cohen (University of Florida) appearing in the August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research argues that neither of these theories is correct.

"We believe that a reevaluation of the two dominant explanations for people's willingness to consume "negative" experiences (both of which assume that people can not experience negative and positive emotions simultaneously) is in order," explain Andrade and Cohen in their study.

Question

Polar expeditions linked to 'madness'

Working for long periods in the harsh and unforgiving conditions near the North Pole and South Pole often causes people to suffer a stew of psychological symptoms dubbed "polar madness," scientists said yesterday.

The researchers studied the psychological effects on people from toiling in remote polar outposts, often for a year at a time, gleaning lessons they say might help prepare for lengthy human space missions, such as a trip to Mars.

While some people on polar expeditions savor a gratifying sense of achievement, the researchers said, 40 percent to 60 percent of them may suffer negative effects such as depression, sleep disruption, anger, irritability, and conflict with co-workers.

Question

Many 'believe myths' on epilepsy

Many people believe potentially harmful myths about epilepsy, a study from University College London suggests.
A third would put something in the mouth of a person having a seizure to stop them swallowing their tongue - but doing so could block their airways.

And 67% of the 4,605 people asked would call an ambulance immediately, Epilepsy and Behavior journal reports.

This is only needed for first seizures, those lasting over five minutes, if the person is hurt or has several seizures.

Question

Why do dogs eat grass?

Owning a dog can be a fascinating experience. You get to know their personality and learn how they work. And something that has baffled a lot of dog owners is why dogs eat grass.

Our dog used to vomit whenever he'd eat grass, and a lot of people think that they do it when they need to be sick.

©ABC
Pups Jackie and Maddog enjoying some kikuyu grass. These are the dogs helping Sam with her research.

Evil Rays

Flawed Study: Mobile Phone mast allergy 'in the mind'




Mobile phone masts are not responsible for the symptoms of ill health some blame them for, a major UK study says.

Bulb

Seeing colors: New study sheds light on sensory system quirk

In the psychological phenomenon known as "synesthesia," individuals' sensory systems are a bit more intertwined than usual. Some people, for example, report seeing colors when musical notes are played.

One of the most common forms is grapheme-color synesthesia, in which letters or numbers (collectively called "graphemes") are highlighted with particular colors. Although synesthesia has been well documented, it is unknown whether these experiences, reported as vivid and realistic, are actually being perceived or if they are a byproduct of some other psychological mechanism such as memory.

New research published in the June issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, sheds some light on the veracity of these perceptions.

Danko Nikolic, a researcher from the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt, Germany, and his colleagues relied on a variation of a classic psychological method known as the Stroop task to test this. In this task, participants must name the color of the font that a color word is printed in. For example, if the word "blue" was printed in red ink, the participant would say "red" - a moderately difficult task that requires some mental gymnastics.

To understand Nikolic's version of the experiment, a rudimentary understanding of color perception is required: When anyone views a particular color, specific neurons in the visual cortex area of our brain are activated. These specific neurons will deactivate, however, if a color from the opposite end of the spectrum is presented. So, any neuron activated when the color blue is present will deactivate when it's exact opposite, yellow, comes into the visual field.

Health

The Key To Good Health That No One Is Talking About

The public generally believes that poor lifestyle choices, faulty genes and infectious agents are the major factors that give rise to illness. Here's the rest of the story.

Comment: Yes, it is good to have the heart in the right place, but if it is not connected to good objective knowledge of the situation, then it ends up being food for the entropic system.

It IS necessary to understand that the conditions we are experiencing today didn't just happen by chance, but have been happening due to the fact that the pathocrats in power have kept the population dumbed down and asleep. Religion has served really well as a way of social control and to keep the sheep within the fence.

Read "The Secret History of the world" by Laura Knight Jadzcyk to understand how this has been going on for millenia and then read "Political Ponerology".


Red Flag

Taking statins may increase cancer risk

Lowering cholesterol with statins may slightly increase the risk of cancer, a study suggests.

It is not clear whether the cancer cases are caused by the drugs, or are a consequence of the low levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol produced by taking them.

Black Cat

Children prescribed antidepressants up four-fold in UK

The use of antidepressants and other mind-altering drugs among schoolchildren has more than quadrupled in the last decade, it is revealed today.

New figures show that GPs are prescribing pills in record numbers to combat stress, violent behaviour and even tiredness.