What makes some words easier to learn than others? Researchers found that ideophones — words that sound like what they mean — are easier to learn than regular words. This suggests that some of our associations between sound and meaning may be universal. Often, the sound of a word doesn’t say much about its meaning: none of the individual sounds in dog mean anything about having four legs or enjoying being scratched behind the ears. This is why a domesticated canine can be referred to as dog in English, hond in Dutch, and inu in Japanese — and why it takes hard work to learn any language. But not all words are like that. Many languages have words which use the sounds of language in a vivid way to show what the word means: ideophones like kibikibi ‘energetic’ or bukubuku ‘fat’.
Two new hominin specimens, a finger bone and a molar, that were found in South Africa's Sterkfontein Caves seem to be from early hominins that can be associated with early stone tool-bearing sediments that entered the cave more than two million years ago.
Almost all of our genes may be influenced by the food we eat, suggests new research. The study, carried out in yeast -- which can be used to model some of the body's fundamental processes -- shows that while the activity of our genes influences our metabolism, the opposite is also true and the nutrients available to cells influence our genes.
As Valentine's Day approaches, love is in the air. One sure-fire way to express love towards someone, be it a partner or even a child, is with a kiss. A recent study in Laterality demonstrates how the direction turned during a kiss differs depending on whether the kiss is shared between romantic partners or between a parent and child.
When ground-nesting wasps leave their nests each day, they turn back toward home before flying along a series of ever-increasing arcs. While the insects gain height and distance, their attention remains focused on the nest. By reconstructing what wasps see during these learning flights, researchers say that they have new insight into how the insects find their way home.
Social animals are strongly motivated to seek out the company of others, especially after periods of isolation, because their brains are wired to find it rewarding. A study now reveals a neural circuit that mediates social seeking behavior driven instead by a loneliness-like state. By shedding light on the neuroscience of isolation, the findings could help our understanding of social anxiety and autism spectrum disorders.
Smile! It makes everyone in the room feel better because they, consciously or unconsciously, are smiling with you. Growing evidence shows that an instinct for facial mimicry allows us to empathize with and even experience other people's feelings. If we can't mirror another person's face, it limits our ability to read and properly react to their expressions.
For over forty years, neuro-scientists have been interested in the biological mechanisms underlying the storage of the information that our brain records every day. Today, a team of researchers demonstrates how the brain regulates the size of the neuronal ensembles that reflect the memory trace to optimize performance. By targeting neurons in the hippocampus, the scientists show that it is possible to inhibit -- or on the contrary to resurface -- a memory.
By genetically reprogramming the most common type of cell in mammalian connective tissue, researchers have generated master heart cells -- primitive progenitors that form the developing heart. The feat could one day fuel drug discovery, powerful new models for heart disease and the raw material for treating diseased hearts.
Three transcription factors -- proteins that direct gene expression -- interact with each other and the genome to influence how a heart forms in an embryo, scientists have discovered. Without these protein interactions, severe congenital heart defects can occur. By understanding how the transcription factors work together during heart development, researchers may discover new ways to treat heart disease.
Long-term use of liraglutide, a substance that helps to lower blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes, can have a deteriorating effect on insulin-producing beta cells, leading to an increase in blood sugar levels, an international team of researchers warns.
The placid appearance of NGC 4889 can fool the unsuspecting observer. But the elliptical galaxy, seen in a new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, harbors a dark secret. At its heart lurks one of the most massive black holes ever discovered.
Physicists have developed a nanolaser, a thousand times thinner than a human hair. Thanks to an ingenious process, the nanowire lasers grow right on a silicon chip, making it possible to produce high-performance photonic components cost-effectively. This will pave the way for fast and efficient data processing with light in the future.
Researchers have adapted a retractable protein polymer -- found naturally in certain bacteria -- to mechanically rupture cell membranes, which could lead to new drug delivery methods and other applications in biotechnology and medicine.
New research highlights the neuroprotective potential of a peptide developed at the university, and the marked difference in nerve cell communication in male and female mice. If researchers come to understand how the protein acts differently in each sex, drugs for potential therapeutics can be optimized to treat both autism and Alzheimer's disease.
Although more than $500 million in federally funded research on Persian Gulf War veterans between 1994 and 2014 has produced many findings, there has been little substantial progress in the overall understanding of the health effects, particularly Gulf War illness, resulting from military service in the war, says a new report.
The first real-time system has been developed to watch directly through the microscope as Ebola-like virus particles fuse with human cells to infect them. Their findings reveal key host cell and viral proteins that direct fusion and Ebola infection. Such knowledge is crucial for designing future drugs or vaccines to prevent this deadly disease.