Posts tagged with "Cognition"

Surprise! Babies understand what you’re saying sooner than you think

April 9, 2021

While infants may seem out of the loop until they starting speaking, researchers at The University of Edinburgh in Scotland say that babies are capable of recognizing word combinations and phrases long before they ever utter their first word.

Indeed, according to Study Finds, their recent research—conducted with some support from academics at Hebrew University of Jerusalem— has revealed that 11- to 12-month-old infants, who are on the verge of speaking, already are processing and understanding various “multi-word phrases” such as “clap your hands.”

This is a breakthrough—representing the first time that investigators have demonstrated that young infants are capable of recognizing and understanding conversations before they begin speaking, themselves. Moreover, this work disputes the long-held belief that babies generally learn languages by first understanding individual words and moving on to sentences. This new study suggests babies learn words and phrases simultaneously.

“Previous research has shown that young infants recognize many common words. But this is the first study that shows that infants extract and store more than just single words from everyday speech. This suggests that when children learn language, they build on linguistic units of varying sizes, including multiword sequences, and not just single words as we often assume,” says Dr. Barbara Skarabela from the School of Philosophy, Psychology, and Languages Sciences, in a university release.

What’s more, Study Finds reports, the researchers also say these findings may provide an explanation as to why adults have so much trouble becoming bilingual.

“This may explain why adults learning a second language, who tend to rely on individual words, often fall short of reaching native-like proficiency in the way they string words together into phrases and sentences,” Dr. Skarabela adds.

Researchers studied 36 babies during this project, via a series of “attention tests” featuring recorded audio from adults. Study authors watched closely as the babies listened to the recordings and looked out for any signs of understanding or acknowledgment. All of the recorded phrases only featured three words and many were consistent with a typical “conversation” between infants and adults.

The team then assessed infant responses and compared them using a method called central fixation. This approach allowed researchers to measure the babies’ looks and eye glances in response to the recordings. Using this strategy, they successfully determined when a baby recognized a familiar phrase like “clap your hands” in comparison to a sentence they had likely never heard before—such as “take your hands.”

Most of the infants (23 out of 36) displayed clear signs of understanding certain phrases. The study has been published in the June 2021 edition of the journal, Cognition.

Research contact: StudyFinds

Biogen’s Alzheimer’s treatment could be ‘the biggest drug ever’

October 23, 2019

Shares of Biogen soared 30% on Tuesday, October 22, CNBC reported, after the drugmaker announced it was seeking regulatory approval for the Alzheimer’s drug, Aducanumab, which it had announced it was at least temporarily giving up on earlier this year.

“It would be the biggest drug ever,” said CNBC’s Jim Cramer on “Squawk on the Street.”

The announcement  from Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Biogen and Tokyo-based Eisai—a leading global research and development-based pharmaceutical company—came after a consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on plans to pursue a regulatory approval for the drug after a Phase 3 EMERGE Study met its primary endpoint—showing a significant reduction in clinical decline.

According to the joint research teams, ‘Patients who received Aducanumab experienced significant benefits on measures of cognition and function such as memory, orientation, and language. Patients also experienced benefits on activities of daily living—including conducting personal finances; performing household chores, such as cleaning, shopping, and doing laundry; and independently traveling out of the home.

They noted, “If approved, Aducanumab would become the first therapy to reduce the clinical decline of Alzheimer’s disease and would also be the first therapy to demonstrate that removing amyloid beta resulted in better clinical outcomes.”

Indeed, Biogen erased its entire 25% year-to-date decline after the announcement became public. The company plans to file for approval with the FDA in early 2020.

“The whole concept of senior living will change,” commented CNBC’s Cramer. “You know whose going to take this drug?” asked Cramer. “Everyone.”

Research contact: @CNBC

Study: Boogie down to get energy and cognition up

January 8, 2019

Older women who still enjoy dancing—whether it’s a waltz or the jitterbug—are likely to sustain better balance, muscle strength, and concentration than others in the same age group. In turn, these capabilities enable them to nimbly perform the activities of daily living (ADL).

A new study of “Exercise type and activities of living disability in older women,” conducted at the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology—and published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports examined the potential effects of 16 different exercise types for reducing disability for activities of daily living in older women.

The study enrolled 1,003 community-dwelling older Japanese women without ADL disability, according to a report by Medical Life Sciences News . In the baseline survey, all participants were asked whether or not they participated in any of 16 exercise types. ADL disability during eight years of follow-up was defined as needing help in performing at least one ADL task (walking, eating, bathing, dressing, or toileting).

ADL disability was noted in 130 participants (13%) during follow-up. After adjusting for confounders, participation in dancing, compared with non-participation, was associated with a 73% lower likelihood for developing ADL disability. There were no significant associations between other exercise types and ADL disability.

“Although it is unclear why dancing alone reduced the risk of ADL disability, dancing requires not only balance, strength, and endurance ability, but also cognitive ability: adaptability and concentration to move according to the music and partner, artistry for graceful and fluid motion, and memory for choreography,” said lead author Dr. Yosuke Osuka, of the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology.” We think that these various elements may contribute to the superiority of dancing in maintaining a higher ADL capacity.”

Research contact: @tochu_koho