Applying New Techniques to Ancient Languages

Researching languages that have no surviving native speakers could be tricky in the extreme. Especially when all other information is sparse. That’s when lateral thinkers turn to less obvious methods of discovery. One such lateral thinker is Claire Bowern of Yale University, who used the evolutionary biologists’ theory of phylogenetics to map differences and similarities between all the known elements of language used by Tasmanian aborigines (before they were the victims of genocide). Professor Bowern analysed 3200 unique words recorded between 1777 and 1847. She found that there were 12 distinct languages spoken in Tasmania before the arrival of Europeans, contrary … Continue reading Applying New Techniques to Ancient Languages

Memories are Made of This

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on…” If there was ever an indication that the human conscience exists within the structure of our brains, it has come recently in research at the University of Cleveland, Ohio. Slices of brain tissue have been induced to produce memory-like patterns, despite the fact that they are, to all intents and purposes, ‘dead’. Electrical stimulation of neurons produced different outputs according to how, and how many, neurons were stimulated. This effect is similar to that produced in monkeys working on memory tasks. Image courtesy of koratmember at Freedigitalphotos.net Continue reading Memories are Made of This

Early Musical Training Lasts a Lifetime

Bad news for kids who hate piano practice – mom and dad are right, it really is good for you. Scientists Erika Soe and Nina Krauss of Northwestern University, Illinois, have found that the effects of early musical training are still present in adults long after they had their last lesson. The research was carried out on forty-five adults, and found that brain stem responses to auditory stimuli were better in adults who had had music lessons as children. So quit whining, kids, and play that Twinkle one more time Photo courtesy of sixninepixels at freedigitalphotos.net Continue reading Early Musical Training Lasts a Lifetime