For decades, linguists and psychologists have been trying to understand the fascinating ways in which humans communicate with each other in different real-world settings. Overall, spoken communication involves a mixture of words, facial expressions, and gestures. Dr Holly Keily, a researcher at the University at Buffalo, has recently carried out a study specifically exploring how speakers explain events to partners who will need to identify them, particularly focusing on their use of gestures.
Over recent decades, the use of digital technologies has increased exponentially worldwide, bringing significant changes to daily life. Like most societal transformations, this process of ‘digitalisation’ has had both positive and negative aspects. Dr Jens Allwood, Professor Emeritus at the University of Gothenburg, has recently published a paper exploring some of the darker elements of digitalisation, particularly focusing on its tendency to dehumanise our daily activities.
The broad dissemination of information online has made students more inclined to question what they are being taught in the classroom. Many educators are thus trying to adapt their teaching strategies to ensure that new generations successfully acquire new skills and learn new knowledge. Dr Brenton Fredericks, Head of the Communication Sciences Department at Central University of Technology in South Africa, recently developed a framework that could improve communication between educators and students in the classroom, promoting more constructive and effective learning.
Discovery of Neurotrophic Factor-α1 Reveals New Treatment Strategies for Stress-induced Neurodegenerative Diseases and Depression | Dr Y. Peng Loh
Stress produces numerous negative effects on the human body. Lying deep within the brain, one particularly sensitive area is the hippocampus, where chronic exposure to stress hormones can lead to the degeneration and death of neurons. Thankfully, the brain holds defence mechanisms that block some of these negative effects. Deciphering these mechanisms with the aim of better treating neurodegenerative diseases and depression is Dr Y. Peng Loh from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in the USA.
Dr Pierre Galanaud, an immunologist from Paris-Saclay University and Inserm UMR 996, analysed historical tax records to investigate the impact of epidemics on recent emigrants who experienced the 15th century plagues in Dijon, France. His research highlights the vulnerability of emigrants with low economic status to epidemic-related mortality. More broadly, his work demonstrates the important role that migrants play in population growth and demographic recovery after an epidemic has taken place. These findings are of particular relevance given the current COVID-19 pandemic.
On the 26th of June 2015, the US Supreme Court legalised same-sex marriage across the USA, allowing same-sex couples to be legally recognised as married in all 50 states. In a study conducted one year later, Dr Kristina B. Wolff at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice, explored some of the benefits and costs of this legalisation for LGBTQ+ communities living in the USA. She introduced a new framework, based on the work of economist Dr Amartya Sen and philosopher Dr Martha Nussbaum, that could encourage long-lasting positive social change.