Chapter 15. Language and Lateralization

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By Linda Searing People who smoke even occasionally are more likely than nonsmokers to have a serious type of stroke caused by a ruptured blood vessel — 27 percent more likely if they smoke up to 20 packs a year, according to research published in the journal Stroke. The average American smoker, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smokes 14 cigarettes daily, which means about 255 packs a year. The type of stroke examined by the researchers, known as a subarachnoid hemorrhage, occurs when a weakened blood vessel ruptures and bleeds into the space between a person’s brain and skull. Most often, this results from an aneurysm, an abnormal bulge in a blood vessel. A subarachnoid hemorrhage is not as common as an ischemic stroke, which is caused by a blood clot, but it also can lead to neurological problems or be life-threatening without immediate treatment to stop the bleeding. To focus on the effect that smoking may have on people’s risk for this type of stroke, the researchers analyzed data on 408,609 adults, about a third of whom smoked regularly. During the study period, 904 participants had a subarachnoid hemorrhage. The more people smoked, the greater their risk for this type of stroke, prompting the American Stroke Association to note that the findings “provide evidence for a causal link” between smoking and subarachnoid hemorrhage. washingtonpost.com © 1996-2021

Keyword: Drug Abuse; Stroke
Link ID: 27707 - Posted: 02.28.2021

By Alex Vadukul In the early 1970s, the field of neuroradiology was still in its formative years, and among its early practitioners was Dr. John Bentson, at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. As he helped patients with the aid of new technology like the CT scan and computer imaging, he saw an opportunity for innovation. A subspecialty of radiology, neuroradiology involves diagnosing and treating ailments in the brain, spinal cord and nerves. One tool used in treatment is the combination of an angiographic guidewire and catheter, essentially a slender wire and tube. Inserted through the leg, it can aid with the injection of contrast dye for diagnostic brain imaging and the treatment of aneurysms. At the time, however, guidewires were rigid and at worst could injure a blood vessel. Dr. Bentson decided to design a better type. He conceived of a more supple guidewire that also featured a flexible tip, and after UCLA built an early prototype for him, other neuroradiologists started using his model. Cook Medical began manufacturing the device in 1973, and it’s still in use today, commonly known as a Bentson guidewire. Dr. Bentson died at 83 on Dec. 28 at a hospital in Los Angeles. The cause was complications of Covid-19, his daughter Dr. Erika Drazan said. “He liked to push boundaries if he thought he could help the patient,” she said. “He liked saying that the vessels in the body are just like a tree, and that he could get where he wanted through them by feel.” Thousands of patients have benefited from his innovation, The American Society of Neuroradiology said after his death. John Reinert Bentson was born on May 15, 1937, in Viroqua, Wis., to Carl and Stella (Hagen) Bentson, who were of Norwegian heritage. He was raised on his family’s dairy farm, going to school in the winter on wooden skis. His mother prepared Norwegian fare like lutefisk. © 2021 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Brain imaging; Stroke
Link ID: 27689 - Posted: 02.15.2021

By Carolyn Gramling The fin whale’s call is among the loudest in the ocean: It can even penetrate into Earth’s crust, a new study finds. Echoes in whale songs recorded by seismic instruments on the ocean floor reveal that the sound waves pass through layers of sediment and underlying rock. These songs can help probe the structure of the crust when more conventional survey methods are not available, researchers report in the Feb. 12 Science. Six songs, all from a single whale that sang as it swam, were analyzed by seismologists Václav Kuna of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague and John Nábělek of Oregon State University in Corvallis. They recorded the songs, lasting from 2.5 to 4.9 hours, in 2012 and 2013 with a network of 54 ocean-bottom seismometers in the northeast Pacific Ocean. The songs of fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) can be up to 189 decibels, as noisy as a large ship. Seismic instruments detect the sound waves of the song, just like they pick up pulses from earthquakes or from air guns used for ship-based surveys. The underwater sounds can also produce seismic echoes: When sound waves traveling through the water meet the ground, some of the waves’ energy converts into a seismic wave (SN: 9/17/20). Those seismic waves can help scientists “see” underground: As the penetrating waves bounce off different rock layers, researchers can estimate the thickness of the layers. Changes in the waves’ speed can also reveal what types of rocks the waves traveled through. © Society for Science & the Public 2000–2021.

Keyword: Hearing; Animal Communication
Link ID: 27686 - Posted: 02.13.2021

By Gina Kolata Is it possible to predict who will develop Alzheimer’s disease simply by looking at writing patterns years before there are symptoms? According to a new study by IBM researchers, the answer is yes. And, they and others say that Alzheimer’s is just the beginning. People with a wide variety of neurological illnesses have distinctive language patterns that, investigators suspect, may serve as early warning signs of their diseases. For the Alzheimer’s study, the researchers looked at a group of 80 men and women in their 80s — half had Alzheimer’s and the others did not. But, seven and a half years earlier, all had been cognitively normal. The men and women were participants in the Framingham Heart Study, a long-running federal research effort that requires regular physical and cognitive tests. As part of it, they took a writing test before any of them had developed Alzheimer’s that asks subjects to describe a drawing of a boy standing on an unsteady stool and reaching for a cookie jar on a high shelf while a woman, her back to him, is oblivious to an overflowing sink. The researchers examined the subjects’ word usage with an artificial intelligence program that looked for subtle differences in language. It identified one group of subjects who were more repetitive in their word usage at that earlier time when all of them were cognitively normal. These subjects also made errors, such as spelling words wrongly or inappropriately capitalizing them, and they used telegraphic language, meaning language that has a simple grammatical structure and is missing subjects and words like “the,” “is” and “are.” The members of that group turned out to be the people who developed Alzheimer’s disease. The A.I. program predicted, with 75 percent accuracy, who would get Alzheimer’s disease, according to results published recently in The Lancet journal EClinicalMedicine. © 2021 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Alzheimers; Language
Link ID: 27677 - Posted: 02.03.2021

By Jonathan Lambert When one naked mole-rat encounters another, the accent of their chirps might reveal whether they’re friends or foes. These social rodents are famous for their wrinkly, hairless appearance. But hang around one of their colonies for a while, and you’ll notice something else — they’re a chatty bunch. Their underground burrows resound with near-constant chirps, grunts, squeaks and squeals. Now, computer algorithms have uncovered a hidden order within this cacophony, researchers report in the Jan. 29 Science. These distinctive chirps, which pups learn when they’re young, help the mostly blind, xenophobic rodents discern who belongs, strengthening the bonds that maintain cohesion in these highly cooperative groups. “Language is really important for extreme social behavior, in humans, dolphins, elephants or birds,” says Thomas Park, a biologist at the University of Illinois Chicago who wasn’t involved in the study. This work shows naked mole-rats (Heterocephalus glaber) belong in those ranks as well, Park says. Naked mole-rat groups seem more like ant or termite colonies than mammalian societies. Every colony has a single breeding queen who suppresses the reproduction of tens to hundreds of nonbreeding worker rats that dig elaborate subterranean tunnels in search of tubers in eastern Africa (SN: 10/18/04). Food is scarce, and the rodents vigorously attack intruders from other colonies. While researchers have long noted the rat’s raucous chatter, few actually studied it. “Naked mole-rats are incredibly cooperative and incredibly vocal, and no one has really looked into how these two features influence one another,” says Alison Barker, a neuroscientist at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin. © Society for Science & the Public 2000–2021.

Keyword: Language; Evolution
Link ID: 27673 - Posted: 01.30.2021

Bob McDonald Scientists used raw eggs to simulate the damaging effects on the brain from strikes to the head, with surprising results. If someone calls you an egghead, they are not too far off. Think about it: an egg has a hard outer shell; a liquid interior, which is the white of the egg; and liquid yolk surrounded by a membrane suspended in the centre. Your head also has a hard outer skull and liquid, called the cerebrospinal fluid, inside of it — which, among other things, acts as a shock absorber around the squishy brain. In a research paper in the journal Physics of Fluids, scientists from Villanova University in Pennsylvania conducted rather simple kitchen style experiments on raw eggs to simulate strikes to the head that could lead to concussion. They wanted to determine how much shock absorbing protection the egg white would provide the yolk and how much the yolk would be distorted out of shape during an impact. The results were not what they expected. Applying force to monitor yolk deformation In order to see the yolks in action, the egg material was placed in a clear plastic container that was mounted on springs and filmed with high speed cameras. First, they hit it in a straight line by dropping a 1.77 kg weight on it from a height of one metre. representing a direct blow to the head. To their surprise, the yolk remained suspended in the egg white and did not change shape or break as the container suddenly accelerated downwards. This could be because liquids cannot be compressed, and since the two liquids are almost the same density, both of them moved together as one unit. ©2021 CBC/Radio-Canada.

Keyword: Brain Injury/Concussion
Link ID: 27658 - Posted: 01.23.2021

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health have discovered Jekyll and Hyde immune cells in the brain that ultimately help with brain repair but early after injury can lead to fatal swelling, suggesting that timing may be critical when administering treatment. These dual-purpose cells, which are called myelomonocytic cells and which are carried to the brain by the blood, are just one type of brain immune cell that NIH researchers tracked, watching in real-time as the brain repaired itself after injury. The study, published in Nature Neuroscience, was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Intramural Research Program at NIH. “Fixing the brain after injury is a highly orchestrated, coordinated process, and giving a treatment at the wrong time could end up doing more harm than good,” said Dorian McGavern, Ph.D., NINDS scientist and senior author of the study. Cerebrovascular injury, or damage to brain blood vessels, can occur following several conditions including traumatic brain injury or stroke. Dr. McGavern, along with Larry Latour, M.D., NINDS scientist, and their colleagues, observed that a subset of stroke patients developed bleeding and swelling in the brain after surgical removal of the blood vessel clot responsible for the stroke. The swelling, also known as edema, results in poor outcomes and can even be fatal as brain structures become compressed and further damaged. To understand how vessel injury can lead to swelling and to identify potential treatment strategies, Dr. McGavern and his team developed an animal model of cerebrovascular injury and used state-of-the-art microscopic imaging to watch how the brain responded to the damage in real-time.

Keyword: Brain Injury/Concussion
Link ID: 27653 - Posted: 01.20.2021

By Elizabeth Pennisi Hammer a nail into a tree, and it will get stuck. So why doesn’t the same thing happen to the sharp beaks of woodpeckers? Scientists say they finally have the answer. In a new study, researchers took high-speed videos of two black woodpeckers (Dryocopus martius) pecking away at hardwood trunks in zoos and analyzed them frame by frame to see how the head and beak moved throughout each peck. The bird’s secret: an ability to move its upper and lower beaks independently, the team reports this week at the virtual annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. Once the tip of the woodpecker’s bill hits the wood, the bird’s head rotates to the side ever so slightly, lifting the top part of the beak and twisting it a bit in the other direction, the videos reveal. This pull opens the bill a tiny amount and creates free space between the beak tip and the wood at the bottom of the punctured hole, so the bird can then easily retract its beak. Until now, scientists have thought woodpecker bills would need to be rigidly attached to the skull to successfully drill into the wood to find insect prey. But actually, the bill’s flexibility in these joints ensures that the bird’s signature “rat-a-tat-tat” doesn’t stop at “rat.” © 2021 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Keyword: Brain Injury/Concussion; Evolution
Link ID: 27640 - Posted: 01.09.2021

Robin McKie, Science Editor Anne Abbott is a scientist on a mission. She believes large numbers of debilitating strokes can be prevented without surgical interventions. Lifestyle changes and medication alone can make massive improvements to people at risk from the thickening of their arteries. It is not an attitude that has endeared her to the medical establishment, however. For years, it has attempted to block her work while instead pressing for increasing use of carotid surgery and stents, she told the Observer last week. “I was told not to publish my research findings,” said Abbott, associate professor of neuroscience at Monash University in Melbourne. “I was shocked. Then it became hard to submit grant applications to continue my research. People would say ‘yes’ to my proposals, then at the last minute, they would back out. If you can’t put a grant in, it could be the end of your research career.” But now Abbott’s efforts have received global recognition – thanks to the judges of the John Maddox prize. Named after the former editor of Nature, and organised by the journal and the charity Sense About Science, the international awards are given to researchers who stand up for sound science. Past winners have included scientists who have been persecuted for speaking out about the dangers of rainforest destruction, the bleaching of coral reefs and the misuse of vitamin C supplements as “treatments” for cancer. This year, US health chief Anthony Fauci and his South African counterpart Salim Abdool Karim were jointly awarded the main John Maddox prize for “communicating the complex science of Covid-19 in the midst of international uncertainty and anxiety”. However, the judges also gave an early career award to Abbott for her perseverance in challenging traditional surgical and stenting procedures as the main way to treat patients at risk of strokes. (A stent is a tiny tube that can be placed into an artery or vein.) © 2020 Guardian News & Media Limited

Keyword: Stroke
Link ID: 27634 - Posted: 12.22.2020

By Bruce Bower Bonobos display responsibility toward grooming partners akin to that of people working together on a task, a new study suggests. Until now, investigations have shown only that humans can work jointly toward a common goal presumed to require back-and-forth exchanges and an appreciation of being obligated to a partner (SN: 10/5/09). Primate biologist Raphaela Heesen of Durham University in England and colleagues studied 15 of the endangered great apes at a French zoological park. The researchers interrupted 85 instances of social grooming, in which one ape cleaned another’s fur, and 26 instances of self-grooming or solitary play. Interruptions consisted either of a keeper calling one bonobo in a grooming pair to come over for a food reward or a keeper rapidly opening and closing a sliding door to an indoor enclosure, which typically signaled mealtime and thus attracted both bonobos. Social grooming resumed, on average, 80 percent of the time after food rewards and 83 percent of the time after sliding-door disruptions, the researchers report December 18 in Science Advances. In contrast, self-grooming or playing alone was resumed only around 50 percent of the time, on average. © Society for Science & the Public 2000–2020

Keyword: Evolution; Emotions
Link ID: 27629 - Posted: 12.19.2020

By Lisa Sanders, M.D. “You need to call an ambulance,” the familiar voice from her doctor’s office urged the frightened 59-year-old woman. “Or should I do it for you?” No, she replied shakily. I can do it. The woman looked down at the phone in her hand; there were two of them. She closed one eye and the second phone disappeared. Then she dialed 911. It had been a hellish few days. Five days earlier, she noticed that she was having trouble walking. Her legs couldn’t or wouldn’t follow her brain’s instructions. She had to take these ungainly baby steps to get anywhere. Her muscles felt weak; her feet were inert blocks. Her hands shook uncontrollably. She vomited half a dozen times a day. The week before, she decided to stop drinking, and she recognized the shaking and vomiting as part of that process. The trouble walking, that was new. But that’s not why she called her doctor. The previous day, she was driving home and was just a block away when suddenly there were two of everything. Stone-cold sober and seeing double. There were two dotted lines identifying the middle of her quiet neighborhood street in South Portland, Maine. Two sets of curbs in front of two sets of sidewalks. She stopped the car, rubbed her eyes and discovered that the second objects slid back into the first when one eye stayed covered. She drove home with her face crinkled in an awkward wink. At home, she immediately called her doctor’s office. They wanted to send an ambulance right then. But she didn’t have health insurance. She couldn’t afford either the ambulance or the hospital. She would probably be better by the next day, she told the young woman on the phone. But the next day was the same. And when she called the doctor’s office this time, the medical assistant’s suggestion that she call an ambulance made a lot more sense. The woman was embarrassed by the siren and flashing lights. Her neighbors would be worried. But she couldn’t deny the relief she felt as she watched the ambulance pull up. The E.M.T.s helped her to her feet and onto the stretcher, then drove her to nearby Northern Light Mercy Hospital. © 2020 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Language
Link ID: 27607 - Posted: 12.05.2020

Amber Dance Gerald Maguire has stuttered since childhood, but you might not guess it from talking to him. For the past 25 years, he has been treating his disorder with antipsychotic medications not officially approved for the condition. Only with careful attention might you discern his occasional stumble on multisyllabic words like "statistically" and "pharmaceutical." Maguire has plenty of company: More than 70 million people worldwide, including about 3 million Americans, stutter — they have difficulty with the starting and timing of speech, resulting in halting and repetition. That number includes approximately 5 percent of children (many of whom outgrow the condition) and 1 percent of adults. Their numbers include presidential candidate Joe Biden, deep-voiced actor James Earl Jones, and actress Emily Blunt. Though they and many others, including Maguire, have achieved career success, stuttering can contribute to social anxiety and draw ridicule or discrimination. Maguire, a psychiatrist at the University of California, Riverside, has been treating people who stutter, and researching potential treatments, for decades. He's now embarking on a clinical trial of a new medication, ecopipam, that streamlined speech and improved quality of life in a small pilot study in 2019. Others, meanwhile, are delving into the root causes of stuttering. In past decades, therapists mistakenly attributed stuttering to defects of the tongue and voice box, to anxiety, trauma, or even poor parenting — and some still do. Yet others have long suspected that neurological problems might underlie stuttering, says J. Scott Yaruss, a speech-language pathologist at Michigan State University. The first data to back up that hunch came in 1991, when researchers reported altered blood flow in the brains of people who stuttered. Since then research has made it more apparent that stuttering is all in the brain. "We are in the middle of an absolute explosion of knowledge being developed about stuttering," Yaruss says. ® 2020 The Week Publications Inc.

Keyword: Language
Link ID: 27565 - Posted: 11.04.2020

By Jeremy Hsu Artificial intelligence could soon help screen for Alzheimer’s disease by analyzing writing. A team from IBM and Pfizer says it has trained AI models to spot early signs of the notoriously stealthy illness by looking at linguistic patterns in word usage. Other researchers have already trained various models to look for signs of cognitive impairments, including Alzheimer’s, by using different types of data, such as brain scans and clinical test results. But the latest work stands out because it used historical information from the multigenerational Framingham Heart Study, which has been tracking the health of more than 14,000 people from three generations since 1948. If the new models’ ability to pick up trends in such data holds up in forward-looking studies of bigger and more diverse populations, researchers say they could predict the development of Alzheimer’s a number of years before symptoms become severe enough for typical diagnostic methods to pick up. And such a screening tool would not require invasive tests or scans. The results of the Pfizer-funded and IBM-run study were published on Thursday in EClinicalMedicine. The new AI models provide “an augmentation to expert practitioners in how you would see some subtle changes earlier in time, before the clinical diagnosis has been achieved,” says Ajay Royyuru, vice president of health care and life sciences research at IBM. “It might actually alert you to some changes that [indicate] you ought to then go do a more complete exam.” To train these models, the researchers used digital transcriptions of handwritten responses from Framingham Heart Study participants who were asked to describe a picture of a woman who is apparently preoccupied with washing dishes while two kids raid a cookie jar behind her back. These descriptions did not preserve the handwriting from the original responses, says Rhoda Au, director of neuropsychology at the Framingham study and a professor at Boston University. © 2020 Scientific American,

Keyword: Alzheimers; Language
Link ID: 27544 - Posted: 10.24.2020

By Elizabeth Svoboda After a 3-year-old named Matthew started having one seizure after another, his worried parents learned he had a chronic brain condition that was causing the convulsions. They faced an impossible decision: allow the damaging seizures to continue indefinitely, or allow surgeons to remove half of their son’s brain. They chose the latter. When Matthew emerged from surgery, he couldn’t walk or speak. But bit by bit, he remastered speech and recaptured his lost milestones. The moment one side of his brain was removed, the remainder set itself to the colossal task of re-forging lost neural connections. This gut-level renovation was so successful that no one who meets Matthew today would guess that half his brain is gone. Stanford neuroscientist David Eagleman is obsessed with probing the outer limits of this kind of neural transformation — and harnessing it to useful ends. We’ve all heard that our brains are more plastic than we think, that they can adapt ingeniously to changed conditions, but in “Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain,” Eagleman tackles this topic with fresh élan and rigor. He shows not just how we can direct our own neural remodeling on a cellular level, but how such remodeling — a process he calls “livewiring” — alters the core of who we are. “Our machinery isn’t fully preprogrammed, but instead shapes itself by interacting with the world,” Eagleman writes. “You are a different person than you were at this time last year, because the gargantuan tapestry of your brain has woven itself into something new.”

Keyword: Development of the Brain; Language
Link ID: 27515 - Posted: 10.10.2020

By Bill Hathaway Our brains respond differently when talking to a person from a different socioeconomic group than during a conversation with someone of a similar background, a novel new imaging study shows. While neuroscientists have used brain imaging scans to track in great detail neural responses of individuals to a host of factors such as stress, fear, addiction, and even love and lust, new research shows what happens in the brains of two individuals engaged in a simple social interaction. The study, published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, reveals the distinct neurobiology of a conversation between two people of different backgrounds. “When a Yale professor talks to a homeless person, his or her frontal lobe activates a different neural network than if they were chatting with another colleague,” said senior author Joy Hirsch, the Elizabeth Mears and House Jameson Professor of Psychiatry and professor of comparative medicine and of neuroscience. “Our brain has apparently designed a frontal lobe system that helps us deal with our diversity.” Hirsch has a joint appointment in neuroscience at the University College of London. The study is the brainchild of recent Yale graduate Olivia Descorbeth, who first proposed the research idea as a high school student. Hirsch and Descorbeth wanted to know if a person’s brain responds differently when speaking with individuals from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Copyright © 2020 Yale University

Keyword: Emotions; Brain imaging
Link ID: 27511 - Posted: 10.07.2020

By Jake Buehler During the summer feeding season in high latitudes, male blue whales tend to sing at night. But shortly before migrating south to their breeding grounds, the whales switch up the timing and sing during the day, new research suggests. This is not the first time that scientists have observed whales singing at a particular time of day. But the finding appears to be the first instance of changes in these daily singing patterns throughout the yearly feeding and mating cycle, says William Oestreich, a biological oceanographer at Stanford University. In the North Pacific, blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) spend summers off North America’s coast gorging on krill before traveling to the tropics to breed in winter. Data collected by an underwater microphone dropped into Monterey Bay in California to record the region’s soundscape for five years allowed Oestreich and his colleagues to eavesdrop on whales that visited the bay. When the team separated daytime and nighttime whale songs, it stumbled upon a surprising pattern: In the summer and early fall, most songs occurred at night, but as winter breeding season approached, singing switched mostly to the daytime. “This was a very striking signal to observe in such an enormous dataset,” says Oestreich. The instrument has been collecting audio since July 2015, relaying nearly 2 terabytes of data back to shore every month. The researchers also tagged 15 blue whales with instruments and from 2017 to 2019, recorded the whales’ movements, diving and feeding behavior, as well as their singing — nearly 4,000 songs’ worth. Whales that were feeding and hadn’t yet started migrating to the breeding grounds sang primarily at night — crooning about 10 songs per hour on average at night compared with three songs per hour in the day, or roughly three times as often. But those that had begun their southward trip sang mostly in the day, with the day-night proportions roughly reversed, the team reports October 1 in Current Biology. © Society for Science & the Public 2000–2020.

Keyword: Animal Communication; Animal Migration
Link ID: 27504 - Posted: 10.03.2020

By Apoorva Mandavilli The coronavirus targets the lungs foremost, but also the kidneys, liver and blood vessels. Still, about half of patients report neurological symptoms, including headaches, confusion and delirium, suggesting the virus may also attack the brain. A new study offers the first clear evidence that, in some people, the coronavirus invades brain cells, hijacking them to make copies of itself. The virus also seems to suck up all of the oxygen nearby, starving neighboring cells to death. It’s unclear how the virus gets to the brain or how often it sets off this trail of destruction. Infection of the brain is likely to be rare, but some people may be susceptible because of their genetic backgrounds, a high viral load or other reasons. “If the brain does become infected, it could have a lethal consequence,” said Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University who led the work. The study was posted online on Wednesday and has not yet been vetted by experts for publication. But several researchers said it was careful and elegant, showing in multiple ways that the virus can infect brain cells. Scientists have had to rely on brain imaging and patient symptoms to infer effects on the brain, but “we hadn’t really seen much evidence that the virus can infect the brain, even though we knew it was a potential possibility,” said Dr. Michael Zandi, consultant neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Britain. “This data just provides a little bit more evidence that it certainly can.” Dr. Zandi and his colleagues published research in July showing that some patients with Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, develop serious neurological complications, including nerve damage. © 2020 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Neuroimmunology; Stroke
Link ID: 27469 - Posted: 09.12.2020

Researchers say mother bats use baby talk to communicate with their pups. Experts say that it helps bats learn the language. MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST: You know how scientists are always curious? Well, one scientist started wondering if bats do something that humans do. AHANA AURORA FERNANDEZ: When we humans talk to a baby, we automatically change our voices. Hello, my baby. You are so cute. My voice goes up. SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST: That's Ahana Aurora Fernandez. She's in Berlin but did her bat study in Panama. And she found that, as many humans do, mommy bats talk to baby bats in a similar way. There's a word for this way of talking. It's motherese (ph). Experts say that in humans - and, apparently, also in bats - it helps with language learning. KELLY: Ahana Fernandez sent us recordings she made to illustrate her findings. They are slowed down so we can better hear the differences between adult bats talking to each other and the motherese used on bat pups. First, here's two adult bats talking to each other. KELLY: OK, and now here's a mother bat with her pup. PFEIFFER: It took patience for Ahana Hernandez to record bat conversation. She sat in the jungle in a chair for hour after hour, waiting for bat conversations to happen. She even brought along books to pass the time. Scientific research is not always riveting. KELLY: No. All told, Ahana Fernandez and her colleagues conducted their research for these last five years, and they found something else along the way. Baby bats babble. FERNANDEZ: They use sort of a vocal practice behavior which is reminiscent of babbling in infants. KELLY: Bat baby talk. PFEIFFER: Her team's report was published this month, and it shows that in the first three months of life, these bat pups experiment with their speech. FERNANDEZ: They learn a part of their adult vocal repertoire through vocal imitation as we humans do. © 2020 npr

Keyword: Animal Communication; Language
Link ID: 27444 - Posted: 09.02.2020

A collaborative study conducted by scientists from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense (DOD), and multiple academic institutions has identified blood biomarkers that could help to predict which athletes need additional time to recover from a sports related concussion. This collaboration, known as the Concussion Assessment, Research, and Education (CARE) consortium, is supported, in part, by DOD and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). In this study, conducted at several sites across the U.S., 127 male and female collegiate athletes who had sustained a sports-related concussion were tested at several time points: shortly after injury, when their symptoms resolved, and one week after returning to play. Each athlete had also undergone preseason, baseline testing. Using an ultrasensitive assay that can detect minute amounts of protein, the researchers tested blood serum from these athletes and identified two blood proteins that were associated with the length of time needed by the athletes to return to play. Amounts of these two proteins, tau protein and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) were found to be significantly different in athletes who needed less or more than 14 days to return. While further research is needed, the results of this study are an important step towards the development of a test that could help predict which athletes need more time to recover from a concussion and resume activity. This study was published in JAMA Network Open.

Keyword: Brain Injury/Concussion
Link ID: 27438 - Posted: 08.29.2020

By Benedict Carey For a couple of minutes on Thursday, the sprawling, virtual Democratic National Convention seemed to hold its collective breath as 13-year-old Brayden Harrington of Concord, N.H., addressed the nation from his bedroom, occasionally stumbling on his words. “I’m a regular kid,” he said into a home camera, and a recent meeting with the candidate “made me feel confident about something that has bothered me my whole life.” Joe Biden and Mr. Harrington have had to manage stuttering, and the sight of the teenager openly balking on several words, including “stutter,” was a striking reminder of how the speech disorder can play havoc with sociability, relationships, even identity. Movies like “The King’s Speech,” and books like Philip Roth’s “American Pastoral,” explore how consequential managing the disorder can be, just as Mr. Biden’s own story does. How many people stutter? The basic numbers are known: About one in 10 children will exhibit some evidence of a stutter — it usually starts between ages 2 and 7 — and 90 percent of them will grow out of it before adulthood. Around 1 percent of the population carries the speech problem for much of their lives. For reasons not understood, boys are twice as likely to stutter, and nearly four times as likely to continue doing so into adulthood. And it is often anxiety that triggers bursts of verbal stumbling — which, in turn, create a flood of self-conscious stress. When Mr. Harrington got stuck for a couple of seconds on the “s” in “stutter,” he turned his head and his eyes fluttered — an embodiment of physical and mental effort — before saying, “It is really amazing that someone like me could get advice from” a presidential candidate. About half of children who stutter are related to someone else who does, but it is impossible to predict who will develop the speech disorder. There are no genes for stuttering; and scientists do not know what might happen after conception, during development, that predisposes children to struggle with speaking in this way. © 2020 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Language; Attention
Link ID: 27431 - Posted: 08.22.2020