Chapter 19. Language and Lateralization

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By BENEDICT CAREY The brain damage was so severe that scientists all but gasped. Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots tight end, was convicted of murder and killed himself in prison last April at age 27. An autopsy revealed that he had brain injuries akin to that seen in afflicted former players in their 60s, researchers announced on Thursday. The sheer extent of the damage turns on its head the usual question about violence and so-called chronic traumatic encephalopathy. If accumulated head trauma can cause such damage, might the injuries in turn lead to murder and suicide? It’s a natural presumption to make, given the tragic suicides of Junior Seau, Dave Duerson and other former football players diagnosed post-mortem with C.T.E. And it’s a question that the courts will have to wrestle with. On Friday, the National Football League vowed to defend itself against a lawsuit filed on behalf of Mr. Hernandez’s daughter and fiancée, who claims that his injuries and death were a direct result of his participation in football. The science itself — like most attempts to link brain biology to behavior — is murkier. In recent decades, researchers have made extraordinary strides in understanding the workings of brain cells, neural circuits and anatomy. Yet drawing a direct line from those basic findings to what people do out in the world is dicey, given the ineffable interplay between circumstance, relationships and personality. What scientists — from such diverse fields as psychiatry, neurology and substance use — can say is that the arrows seem to be pointing in the same direction. A number of brain states raise the risk of acting out violently, and the evidence so far, while incomplete, suggests that C.T.E. may be one of them. Dr. Samuel Gandy, director of the N.F.L. neurology program at Mount Sinai Medical Center, said that rage and irritability “are far and away the most prominent symptoms” among former players with likely C.T.E., in his research. His group has identified 10 of 24 former players who probably have C.T.E. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Brain Injury/Concussion; Aggression
Link ID: 24104 - Posted: 09.23.2017

While immune cells called neutrophils are known to act as infantry in the body’s war on germs, a National Institutes of Health-funded study suggests they can act as medics as well. By studying rodents, researchers showed that instead of attacking germs, some neutrophils may help heal the brain after an intracerebral hemorrhage, a form of stroke caused by ruptured blood vessels. The study suggests that two neutrophil-related proteins may play critical roles in protecting the brain from stroke-induced damage and could be used as treatments for intracerebral hemorrhage. “Intracerebral hemorrhage is a damaging and often fatal form of stroke for which there are no effective medicines,” said Jaroslaw Aronowski, M.D., Ph.D., professor, department of neurology, at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and senior author of the study published in Nature Communications. “Our results are a hopeful first step towards developing a treatment for this devastating form of stroke.” Accounting for 10 to 15 percent of all strokes, intracerebral hemorrhages happen when blood vessels rupture and leak blood into the brain, often leading to death or long-term disability. Chronic high blood pressure is the leading risk factor for these types of strokes. The initial phase of damage appears to be caused by the pressure of blood leaking into the brain. Over time, further damage may be caused by the accumulation of toxic levels of blood products, infiltrating immune cells, and swelling. Decades of research suggest that neutrophils are some of the earliest immune cells to respond to a hemorrhage, and that they may both harm and heal the brain.

Keyword: Stroke; Neuroimmunology
Link ID: 24090 - Posted: 09.21.2017

By Deborah Tuerkheimer Controversy surrounding “shaken baby syndrome” (SBS) is taking centre stage again. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) meets today with a session underscoring the message that most paediatricians – child abuse specialists among them – say it remains a “valid” diagnosis. In other words, the paediatric community continues to believe that shaking can bring about one or more of the classic triad of neurological symptoms: bleeding beneath the outer layer of membranes surrounding the brain, bleeding in the retina, and brain swelling. This is likely to prompt vigorous opposition from those within the medical community who challenge the scientific underpinnings of SBS. It is also likely to resonate with the public, many of whom assume that this diagnosis alone amounts to proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a caregiver or parent injured or killed a baby by violent shaking. It does not. Yet for decades such prosecutions did rest on the testimony of medical experts regarding the triad. Doctors came to court and explained that vigorous shaking – not an accidental jostle or an effort to revive an unconscious child – was the only possible explanation for those symptoms. The triad was even used to identify a perpetrator – whoever was last with the lucid baby. SBS could, in essence, be a medical diagnosis of murder. Beginning in the 1990s, triad-only prosecutions became increasingly commonplace, sending many caregivers to prison. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.=

Keyword: Brain Injury/Concussion; Development of the Brain
Link ID: 24082 - Posted: 09.20.2017

By Jessica Hamzelou People who are blind use parts of their brain that normally handle for vision to process language, as well as sounds – highlighting the brain’s extraordinary ability to requisition unused real estate for new functions. Neurons in the part of the brain normally responsible for vision synchronise their activity to the sounds of speech in blind people, says Olivier Collignon at the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) in Belgium. “It’s a strong argument that the organisation of the language system… is not constrained by our genetic blueprint alone,” he says. The finding builds on previous research showing that the parts of the brain responsible for vision can learn to process other kinds of information, including touch and sound, in people who are blind. Collignon and his colleagues made the discovery using magnetoencephalography (MEG), which measures electrical activity in the brain. Read more: How some blind people are able to echolocate like bats While they were being scanned, groups of sighted and blind volunteers were played three clips from an audio book. One recording was clear and easy to understand; another was distorted but still intelligible; and the third was modified so as to be completely incomprehensible. Both groups showed activity in the brain’s auditory cortex, a region that processes sounds, while listening to the clips. But the volunteers who were blind showed activity in the visual cortex, too. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.

Keyword: Vision; Language
Link ID: 24075 - Posted: 09.19.2017

By NATALIE ANGIER A normal human baby, according to psychologists, will cry about two hours over the course of a day. A notorious human crybaby, according to her older siblings, parents and the building superintendent, will cry for two hours every two hours, refusing to acknowledge any distinction between crying and other basic infant activities, like “being awake” or “breathing.” Current and former whine enthusiasts, take heart. It turns out that infant crying is not only as natural and justifiable as breathing: The two acts are physically, neurologically, primally intertwined. Scientists have discovered that the small cluster of brain cells in charge of fast, active respiration also grant a baby animal the power to cry. Reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Carmen Birchmeier and Luis Hernandez-Miranda, of the Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, and their colleagues showed that infant mice stripped of this key node — a mere 17,000 neurons, located in the evolutionarily ancient hindbrain — can breathe slowly and passively, but not vigorously or animatedly. When they open their mouths to cry, nothing comes out. As a result, their mothers ignore them, and the poorly breathing pups quickly die. “This was an astonishing finding,” Dr. Birchmeier said. “The mother could see the pups and smell the pups, but if they didn’t vocalize, it was as though they didn’t exist.” The new study is just one in a series of recent reports that reveal the centrality of crying to infant survival, and how a baby’s bawl punches through a cluttered acoustic landscape to demand immediate adult attention. The sound of an infant’s cry arouses a far quicker and stronger response in action-oriented parts of the adult brain than do similarly loud or emotionally laden noises, like a dog barking or a neighbor weeping. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Sexual Behavior; Animal Communication
Link ID: 24037 - Posted: 09.05.2017

By SANDY SMOLAN I’ve long been interested in the capacity of storytelling and journalism to transport an audience. Shooting my first documentary in North Africa 35 years ago, I used multiple projectors and screens to create an immersive experience. The approach at the time was experimental and while I moved on to more traditional storytelling in features, television and documentaries, I always held on to the idea of using immersive environments to transport viewers and allow them to experience an expanded vision of the world. They surrounded the divers and started clicking — they seemed to be saying hello. Then last year I visited the virtual reality lab at Stanford, which is at the fore of contemporary immersive journalism. I realized that V.R. had the potential to become a powerful new form of storytelling, and the medium has been evolving faster than anyone had ever expected. After I read James Nestor’s book “Deep,” about free diving and the human connection to the ocean, I realized that the combination of stunning imagery and the way in which a team of researchers were studying the language of whales and dolphins by free diving with them would translate perfectly to V.R. I had never forgotten my first open water dive in the Caribbean with my father when I was 17 and the transcendent experience of being suspended 30 feet beneath the surface, midway between the boat above us and the white sand of the ocean floor below. Now my son has become a free diver and as I recently watched him dive silently, on a single breath, his body elongated with outsize fins, unencumbered by tanks, regulators and the noise of escaping bubbles, I saw what James so eloquently described in his book — a human being interacting with the ocean and marine life in a manner few people can ever experience. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Animal Communication; Hearing
Link ID: 24032 - Posted: 09.04.2017

By Brian Levine, Carrie Esopenko There are two ways to go about studying a disease. Let’s call them the retrospective and prospective methods. In the retrospective method, scientists identify individuals with the disease and ask about the circumstances that led to the illness. In the prospective method, they start with a representative sample of people and track them over time to see who develops the disease. Both methods have yielded important discoveries, but the retrospective method is much more prone to distortion than the prospective method. Consider the following example. Using the retrospective method, 100 percent of alcoholics drink alcohol. Yet drinking alcohol does not necessarily lead to alcoholism, as can be determined by the prospective method in which it can be seen that the proportion of those who enjoy alcoholic drinks and become alcoholics is less than 100 percent. Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) Center recently reported that 99 percent of NFL alumni who made brain donations at the time of death have CTE (a similar finding was reported in 2013). While researchers acknowledge that those who make brain donations are not representative of retired NFL players (much less those with sports-related concussions in general) it is remarkably easy to make the same mistake as in the alcoholism example—that is, making the assumption that this finding generalizes to the broader population of athletes exposed to concussion. © 2017 Scientific America

Keyword: Brain Injury/Concussion
Link ID: 24025 - Posted: 09.02.2017

By Andy Coghlan How and when did we first become able to speak? A new analysis of our DNA reveals key evolutionary changes that reshaped our faces and larynxes, and which may have set the stage for complex speech. The alterations were not major mutations in our genes. Instead, they were tweaks in the activity of existing genes that we shared with our immediate ancestors. These changes in gene activity seem to have given us flat faces, by retracting the protruding chins of our ape ancestors. They also resculpted the larynx and moved it further down in the throat, allowing our ancestors to make sounds with greater subtleties. The study offers an unprecedented glimpse into how our faces and vocal tracts were altered at the genetic level, paving the way for the sophisticated speech we take for granted. However, other anthropologists say changes in the brain were at least equally important. It is also possible that earlier ancestors could speak, but in a more crude way, and that the facial changes simply took things up a notch. Liran Carmel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and his colleagues examined DNA from two modern-day people and four humans who lived within the last 50,000 years. They also looked at extinct hominins: two Neanderthals and a Denisovan. Finally, they looked at genetic material from six chimpanzees and data from public databases supplied by living people. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.

Keyword: Language; Evolution
Link ID: 24004 - Posted: 08.28.2017

Jon Hamilton It's not just what you say that matters. It's how you say it. Take the phrase, "Here's Johnny." When Ed McMahon used it to introduce Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, the words were an enthusiastic greeting. But in The Shining, Jack Nicholson used the same two words to convey murderous intent. Now scientists are reporting in the journal Science that they have identified specialized brain cells that help us understand what a speaker really means. These cells do this by keeping track of changes in the pitch of the voice. "We found that there were groups of neurons that were specialized and dedicated just for the processing of pitch," says Dr. Eddie Chang, a professor of neurological surgery at the University of California, San Francisco. Chang says these neurons allow the brain to detect "the melody of speech," or intonation, while other specialized brain cells identify vowels and consonants. "Intonation is about how we say things," Chang says. "It's important because we can change the meaning, even — without actually changing the words themselves." For example, by raising the pitch of our voice at the end of a sentence, a statement can become a question. The identification of neurons that detect changes in pitch was largely the work of Claire Tang, a graduate student in Chang's lab and the Science paper's lead author. Tang and a team of researchers studied the brains of 10 epilepsy patients awaiting surgery. The patients had electrodes placed temporarily on the surface of their brains to help surgeons identify the source of their seizures. © 2017 npr

Keyword: Language
Link ID: 23996 - Posted: 08.25.2017

By Sameer Deshpande, Raiden Hasegawa, Christina Master, Amanda Rabinowitz, Dylan Small American football is the largest participation sport in U.S. high schools. Recently, many have expressed concern about the sport’s safety with some even calling for banning youth and high school tackle football. We recently published a study in JAMA Neurology suggesting that, in general, men who played high school football in 1950s Wisconsin did not have a higher risk of poor cognitive or emotional health later in life than those who did not play. Recent concerns about football’s safety have been driven largely by reports of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) among retired professional players. CTE is a neurodegenerative disease thought to result from repetitive head trauma with symptoms including memory loss, aggression, confusion and depression. A recent study in JAMA reported evidence of CTE in 110 of 111 deceased retired NFL players who donated their brains for posthumous examination. This important study adds to a larger body of work linking repetitive sports-related concussion with neurodegenerative disease. However, such research, which depends on brains donated by families of players many of whom were symptomatic before death, is not designed to establish the base rate of neurodegeneration among the larger population of football players. A critical question remains: what is the risk of later-life cognitive and emotional dysfunction for American high school football players? © 2017 Scientific American

Keyword: Brain Injury/Concussion; Development of the Brain
Link ID: 23994 - Posted: 08.25.2017

By Jessica Hamzelou People who use methamphetamine are almost five times more likely to have a stroke caused by a bleed in the brain, many of which are fatal. “We can add stroke to the list of terrible and devastating things that methamphetamine does,” says Damian Zuloaga, of the University at Albany, New York. Beyond the signature tooth decay known as “meth mouth”, methamphetamine also increases heart rate and blood pressure, and can trigger heart attacks. The drug can lead to psychosis, and has been linked to anxiety disorders, depression, and problems with movement similar to those seen in Parkinson’s disease. A handful of studies have also linked methamphetamine use to strokes. To explore further, Julia Lappin and her colleagues at the Australian National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in Sydney sifted through published research on the topic. The team specifically looked for research into people under the age of 45 – a group less likely to be affected by age-related causes of stroke. They assessed the results of 77 studies in total. Most of these studies were conducted in the US, where, in 2012, around 1.2 million people reported using methamphetamine in the past year. Several of the studies the team looked at reported that strokes are responsible for between one and five per cent of methamphetamine-related deaths. And other studies found that methamphetamine was to blame for between two and six per cent of all strokes caused by a blockage in the brain’s blood flow in under 45s. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.

Keyword: Drug Abuse; Stroke
Link ID: 23988 - Posted: 08.24.2017

By Denise D. Cummins Looking directly at the camera, NPR's Skunk Bear host Adam Cole laments, "It's pretty clear that I'll never be able to have a real human-style conversation with an ape.” In his short and very entertaining video, Cole summarizes decades of research aimed at teaching apes human language, all of which, we are to understand, came to naught. But what the video actually shows us is how little the average person (and many scientists) understands about language. At one point, Cole tells his dog to sit, and the dog sits. This, he tells us, is not evidence that the dog knows English. But actually, it is. The dog's behavior shows us that he is capable of understanding the simple concept of sitting, that he is capable of distinguishing the verbal signal "sit" from other verbal signals, and that he is capable of connecting the two. This isn't rocket science, it isn't magic, and it isn't anthropomorphizing. It is just the way word learning works. In studies conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, a border collie named Rico was taught the meanings of 200 words. He could even use theprocess of elimination to figure out unfamiliar words: If he already knew the word "ball,” and his trainer showed him a ball and a stick and told him to get the "stick,” he would bring the stick. He could remember new words even after a month of not hearing them. © 2017 Scientific American,

Keyword: Animal Communication; Language
Link ID: 23977 - Posted: 08.19.2017

By NICHOLAS BAKALAR The incidence of stroke has declined in recent years, but only in men. Researchers studied stroke incidence in four periods from 1993 to 2010 in five counties in Ohio and Kentucky. There were 7,710 strokes all together, 57.2 percent of them in women. After adjusting for age and race, they found that stroke incidence in men had decreased to 192 per hundred thousand men in 2010, down from 263 in 1993–94. But for women the incidence was 198 per hundred thousand in 2010, down from 217 in 1993–94, a statistically insignificant change. The study is in Neurology. Most of the difference was in ischemic stroke, the most common cause, resulting from a blocked blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. No one knows why there has been no improvement in women, but the lead author, Dr. Tracy E. Madsen, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Brown, said that some risk factors have a stronger effect in women than in men. Risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and smoking. “Maybe we’re not controlling risk factors to the same extent in women. Or maybe there’s a biological difference in the way these risk factors cause strokes in men versus women.” In any case, Dr. Madsen said, “It’s important for women to know they are at risk. Stroke has been considered a male disease, but we know that it is very prevalent in women and has a high risk of disability and death.” © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Stroke; Sexual Behavior
Link ID: 23939 - Posted: 08.10.2017

By Daniel Barron Conrad was 17 months old when Dave, his grandfather, was babysitting him at their home in Temple, Texas. The two had been playing in the pool and went inside for a break. Dave set to unloading dishes in the dishwasher, unaware that Conrad had snuck back outside. As he finished the dishes, Dave looked out the window and noticed something odd. There was what looked like a floating bundle of clothes in the swimming pool. It was his grandson. Fortunately, Conrad responded to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), but it’s unclear how long his lungs—and his brain—went without oxygen. Drowning is the second most common cause of accidental death in children to age four. As in Conrad’s case, CPR is fortunately very successful, with 66 percent of nearly drowned children surviving. But even when resuscitated, the seconds and minutes that the brain is deprived of oxygen come at a great cost. This type of damage is known as anoxic brain injury. Anoxic brain injury is a clinical term that indicates damage to the brain that occurs due to lack of oxygen. There is a spectrum of injury ranging from complete recovery to minor to widespread brain damage. Within this spectrum lies what is known as the disorders of consciousness, with the extent of damage being proportional to the loss of consciousness. In the case of nearly drowned children, the injury is frequently thought to be widespread. Nearly drowned children are labeled “minimally conscious” or even in a “persistent vegetative state” (with no consciousness) and the prevailing medical prognosis is grim: treatment and recovery is difficult if not impossible. © 2017 Scientific American,

Keyword: Development of the Brain; Brain Injury/Concussion
Link ID: 23926 - Posted: 08.08.2017

Jean M. Twenge One day last summer, around noon, I called Athena, a 13-year-old who lives in Houston, Texas. She answered her phone—she’s had an iPhone since she was 11—sounding as if she’d just woken up. We chatted about her favorite songs and TV shows, and I asked her what she likes to do with her friends. “We go to the mall,” she said. “Do your parents drop you off?,” I asked, recalling my own middle-school days, in the 1980s, when I’d enjoy a few parent-free hours shopping with my friends. “No—I go with my family,” she replied. “We’ll go with my mom and brothers and walk a little behind them. I just have to tell my mom where we’re going. I have to check in every hour or every 30 minutes.” Those mall trips are infrequent—about once a month. More often, Athena and her friends spend time together on their phones, unchaperoned. Unlike the teens of my generation, who might have spent an evening tying up the family landline with gossip, they talk on Snapchat, the smartphone app that allows users to send pictures and videos that quickly disappear. They make sure to keep up their Snapstreaks, which show how many days in a row they have Snapchatted with each other. Sometimes they save screenshots of particularly ridiculous pictures of friends. “It’s good blackmail,” Athena said. (Because she’s a minor, I’m not using her real name.) She told me she’d spent most of the summer hanging out alone in her room with her phone. That’s just the way her generation is, she said. “We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.” Copyright (c) 2017 by The Atlantic Monthly Group.

Keyword: Depression
Link ID: 23925 - Posted: 08.08.2017

By Erin Blakemore Do you talk to yourself? Don’t sweat it: Scientists say you’re not alone. And the ways in which you chatter to yourself, both in your head and out loud, are changing what neuroscientists know about the human brain. Writing in Scientific American, psychologist Charles Fernyhough reveals why we’re our best conversational partners. Scientists have only recently learned how to study self-talk — and it’s opening up exciting new avenues of research. It turns out there are two ways of chatting yourself up. In “inner speech,” you speak to yourself without making sound. With “private speech,” you do the same thing, just out loud. This chatter serves varied purposes: It can help people control themselves and relate to others. But it’s notoriously hard to study. So Fernyhough and colleagues figured out some inventive ways to prompt people to talk to themselves as they lay inside a functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, scanner. When they studied the brains of people who talked to themselves internally, the team noticed that spontaneous inner speech activates a different part of the brain than words that the participants were asked to say aloud. And people whose self-talk takes the form of a monologue seem to activate different brain areas than those who carry on a dialogue in their heads. © 1996-2017 The Washington Post

Keyword: Consciousness; Language
Link ID: 23924 - Posted: 08.07.2017

By Mo Costandi The controversy began about 10 years ago, when it emerged that the National Football League had first tried to cover up evidence linking repetitive head injuries in players to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, and then to discredit the scientists doing the work. Since then evidence supporting this link has grown as an increasing number of players have come forward to report that they are suffering from depression, and some have committed suicide. And yet, exactly how repetitive head injuries are linked to CTE development and the psychiatric symptoms associated with it is still a matter of debate. The largest-ever study of its kind has now given the most compelling evidence yet linking repetitive head impacts in football players to CTE. The study, published recently in JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association, has notable limitations, however. It has also sparked calls for more research to measure the impact of head blows on players over the course of a lifetime. The new work builds on findings from 2013: neuropathologist Ann McKee of Boston University and her colleagues published a postmortem report of 68 male athletes and military veterans with CTE, in which they described a spectrum of pathological signatures associated with the condition. McKee and colleagues observed two distinct sets of clinical symptoms: one involving disturbances in mood and behavior, which was seen in the younger subjects, and the other including cognitive impairments, which developed at an older age. © 2017 Scientific American

Keyword: Brain Injury/Concussion
Link ID: 23920 - Posted: 08.05.2017

Emily Siner The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn., is country music's Holy Land. It's home to the weekly radio show that put country music on the national map in 1925. And it's where this summer, 30 people with Williams syndrome eagerly arrived backstage. Williams syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that can cause developmental disabilities. People with the condition are often known for their outgoing personalities and their profound love of music. Scientists are still trying to figure out where this musical affinity comes from and how it can help them overcome their challenges. That's why 12 years ago, researchers at Vanderbilt University set up a summer camp for people with Williams syndrome. For a week every summer, campers come to Nashville to immerse themselves in country music and participate in cutting-edge research. This isn't the only summer camp for people with Williams syndrome, but it is unique in its distinctive country flair. It's organized by the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, whose faculty and staff focus on developmental disabilities. Eight years ago, the Academy of Country Music's philanthropic arm, ACM Lifting Lives, started funding the program. Campers spend the week meeting musicians and visiting recording studios, even writing an original song. This year, they teamed up with one of country's hottest stars, Dierks Bentley, on that. And they get a backstage tour of the Grand Ole Opry led by Clancey Hopper, who has Williams syndrome herself and attended the Nashville camp for eight years before applying for a job at the Opry. © 2017 npr

Keyword: Language; Development of the Brain
Link ID: 23904 - Posted: 08.01.2017

By Giorgia Guglielmi Tits amazing are birds Japanese. If you didn’t get that, you wouldn’t be alone: Humans figure out the meaning of sentences like this using grammatical rules such as word order. It turns out that Japanese tits, social birds that live in Japan and the Russian Far East, do it too. These wild birds respond to calls they’ve never heard before only if the chirps are in the right order, researchers report today in Current Biology. When a predator threatens the flock, Japanese tits produce something called a “mobbing call,” with the sequence ABC-D. By itself, the ABC part of the call means “danger.” But the D part of the call—similar to the “recruitment call” of a close relative, the willow tit—attracts flock members when there’s something to share, such as food. When the two parts are produced together, Japanese tits flock together to mob the intruder. To find out if the order of the calls mattered, researchers created a song that Japanese tits had never heard before—an artificial sequence made up of the Japanese tit’s ABC alert, followed by the willow tit’s recruitment call, tӓӓ. (You can listen to them, above.) They then played it from a loudspeaker for a flock of nearby tits. When Japanese tits heard the ABC- tӓӓ call, they turned their heads, looking for a predator, as they approached the loudspeaker. But when the artificial sequence was reversed (tӓӓ-ABC), the birds didn’t react. © 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Keyword: Animal Communication; Language
Link ID: 23889 - Posted: 07.28.2017

By Joe Ward, Josh Williams and Sam Manchester Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist, has examined the brains of 202 deceased football players. A broad survey of her findings was published on Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Of the 202 players, 111 of them played in the N.F.L. — and 110 of those were found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., the degenerative disease believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head. C.T.E. causes myriad symptoms, including memory loss, confusion, depression and dementia. The problems can arise years after the blows to the head have stopped. The brains here are from players who died as young as 23 and as old as 89. And they are from every position on the field — quarterbacks, running backs and linebackers, and even a place-kicker and a punter. They are from players you have never heard of and players, like Ken Stabler, who are enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Some of the brains cannot be publicly identified, per the families’ wishes. The image above is from the brain of Ronnie Caveness, a linebacker for the Houston Oilers and Kansas City Chiefs. In college, he helped the Arkansas Razorbacks go undefeated in 1964. One of his teammates was Jerry Jones, now the owner of the Dallas Cowboys. Jones has rejected the belief that there is a link between football and C.T.E. The image above is from the brain of Ollie Matson, who played 14 seasons in the N.F.L. — after winning two medals on the track at the 1952 Helsinki Games. He died in 2011 at age 80 after being mostly bedridden with dementia, his nephew told The Associated Press, adding that Matson hadn’t spoken in four years. Dr. McKee, chief of neuropathology at the VA Boston Healthcare System and director of the CTE Center at Boston University, has amassed the largest C.T.E. brain bank in the world. But the brains of some other players found to have the disease — like Junior Seau, Mike Webster and Andre Waters — were examined elsewhere. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Brain Injury/Concussion
Link ID: 23880 - Posted: 07.26.2017