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by Viorica Marian, Ph.D., with Anthony Shook
Today, more of the world’s population is bilingual or multilingual than monolingual. In addition to facilitating cross-cultural communication, this trend also positively affects cognitive abilities. Researchers have shown that the bilingual brain can have better attention and task-switching capacities than the monolingual brain, thanks to its developed ability to inhibit one language while using another. In addition, bilingualism has positive effects at both ends of the age spectrum: Bilingual children as young as seven months can better adjust to environmental changes, while bilingual seniors can experience less cognitive decline. From Cerebrum, our online magazine of ideas.
While neurotransmitters are too often discussed as having a single role or function, neuroscientists are finding that they are multi-faceted, complex, and interact with one another in a variety of ways.
See also: All Dana brain-related primers
Do people with a genetic vulnerability to alcohol dependence need to drink more to feel like they’ve consumed the same amount of alcohol as those without the gene? Dana grantee Graeme Mason aims to answer this question using Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy to measure alcohol-induced changes in the concentration of certain neurotransmitters.
As research is showing that much of our decision-making — for good and ill — is unconscious, why not nudge people into making better choices rather than foisting rational arguments on them?
The science is now unambiguous regarding the short-and long-term hazards of early life adversity — both psychological and neural development can be compromised. A healthy society hinges on the healthy development of its children, and a concerted effort should be made to protect our children whenever possible from exposure to early adversity. One of our series of Reports on Progress.
Studies link the presence of Toxoplasma gondii in the brain to higher rates of suicide attempts, schizophrenia, and infection. How might it contribute to the many causes of these diseases?
To follow up on their 2011 Cerebrum article, two researchers created an animated video that shows how scientists, pharmaceutical companies, nonprofits, and the government can work together to support research on rare diseases.