Shoe-mounted laser to ‘unfreeze’ people with Parkinson’s scoops €1 million prize

Having an external visual cue such as a line has been shown to reduce the number of freezing episodes in Parkinson's patients. Image credit - Walk With Path

A shoe-mounted laser beam that helps people with Parkinson’s disease ‘unfreeze’ by shining a green line in front of their feet has been awarded the EU’s €1 million Horizon Prize for Social Innovation. The Path Finder device was invented in 2014 by Danish entrepreneur Lise Pape, whose father suffers from Parkinson’s disease. It aims to help people overcome … Read more

Prosperity is about more than money. But what else should count?

The idea that wellbeing encompasses more than economic growth is widespread, but the problem is deciding what to measure. Image credit - Cherylholt/ Pixabay

More than two decades ago, Professor Andrew Oswald worked at the London School of Economics, UK, when he organised what he says was the world’s first conference on the economics of happiness. He put up posters, invited speakers, and waited for the crowds to come. But only eight people turned up. ‘It just didn’t compute … Read more

Emotional response to city design could guide urban planning

Neurologists, architects, artists, and epidemiologists are collaborating to design cities that could be used to improve well-being among older people. Image credit - Senior Guidance, licensed under CCby2.0

by Fintan Burke Virtual reality and scenario-testing models are being built to help urban planners and architects get real-time feedback about the impact of their designs on mental health, particularly for older people.   Europe’s cities are getting greyer. The EU’s 2018 ageing report claims that by 2070, more than half of Europeans will be over … Read more

Link between music and speech rhythm in brain could provide language insight

When a piece of music is played at the wrong tempo it is difficult to recognise because our brain uses rhythm to help make sense of sounds. Image credit - flickr/ Brian Richardson, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Neuroscientist Dr Domenica Bueti often plays an altered version of the classic aria La donna è mobile when she gives talks about the importance of time perception. Her friend’s piano rendition of Giuseppe Verdi’s composition uses the same notes but is played at different speeds. Rarely does anyone ever identify the tune. ‘When I play it with … Read more

Schools and media literacy critical for teen refugees’ social wellbeing

A quarter of the refugees who entered Europe in 2018 were children, and 40% of these were unaccompanied by adults. Image credit - Kylo/ Unsplash

by Gareth Willmer For a teenage refugee starting a new life in Europe, going to school and using digital media form a big part of navigating an unfamiliar society. But appropriate interventions at school and online could help them feel more at home in a new country. A quarter of the migrants and refugees who entered Europe … Read more

Can artificial intelligence help end fake news?

Artificial intelligence can be used to create deep fakes - audio, pictures and videos that make people say and do things they never did. Image credit - PxHere

by Tom Cassauwers Fake news has already fanned the flames of distrust towards media, politics and established institutions around the world. And while new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) might make things even worse, it can also be used to combat misinformation. Want to make yourself sound like Obama? In the past, that might have required physically … Read more