Triggering original fear memories could treat phobias and PTSD

In a lab in Amsterdam, arachnophobes have volunteered to encounter their eight-legged nemeses to help researchers hoping to conjure and obliterate fear memories. These studies, as well as new understanding of overlooked brain regions, are revealing how fears linked to PTSD or phobias work, and how they may be treated. In upcoming clinical trials, Professor … Read more

Studies into bilingual cognition could help improve language learning

Bilingual people can effortlessly switch between languages during everyday interactions. But beyond its usefulness in communication, being bilingual could affect how the brain works and enhance certain abilities. Studies into this could inform techniques for learning languages and other skills.  More than half of people in Europe speak more than one language while the same is … Read more

Twenty surprising scientific facts we learned in 2020

From corals bunkering down in deeper waters to wait out climate change stress, to how vaccines can boost our immune system beyond a specific disease – here are the 20 most surprising scientific facts that we discovered this year.  Read: Five things you need to know about bats, disease and coronavirus  Read: We are starting … Read more

‘Encoding the same biases’: Artificial intelligence’s limitations in coronavirus response

As the coronavirus pandemic endures, the socio-economic implications of race and gender in contracting Covid-19 and dying from it have been laid bare. Artificial intelligence (AI) is playing a key role in the response, but it could also be exacerbating inequalities within our health systems – a critical concern that is dragging the technology’s limitations … Read more

Does teenage anxiety have its roots in infancy?

The fact that teenagers worry isn’t necessarily a concern – it’s when the adolescent brain amplifies and distorts a simple worry that mental health problems can arise. As scientists aim to unlock why teenagers get anxious, and how infancy and upbringing are implicated, early intervention strategies are being refined to redirect harmful thoughts and teach … Read more

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