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Stars are younger

The latest data release from the ESA satellite Planck consortium – just published in Astronomy and Astrophysics – reveals a surprise: star formation in the Universe may be more recent than previously indicated by the analysis of Planck’s predecessor, the NASA WMAP satellite. The observation was made possible by the new maps of Planck’s low-frequency instrument (LFI), produced by the Trieste Data Processing Centre run by INAF-OATS in collaboration with the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) and the LFI Consortium. 

Movements/objects: “evolutionarily old”?

Human beings are born with a visual system already predisposed to see (and mentally representing) objects as discrete perceptual units. Movement is an important visual feature, but how early in a child’s development is it represented independently from the object itself? And what function does this skill serve in the development of cognitive abilities? Research conducted with the collaboration of SISSA, and published in Cognition, shows that this skill develops very early in infancy. Not only: its presence in mice suggests a genetic basis for it.

Inside the big wormhole

Based on the latest evidence and theories our galaxy could be a huge wormhole (or space-time tunnel, have you seen “Interstellar?”) and, if that were true, it would be “stable and navigable”. This is the hypothesis put forward in a study published in Annals of Physics and conducted with the participation of SISSA in Trieste. The paper, the result of a collaboration between Indian, Italian and North American researchers, prompts scientists to re-think dark matter more accurately.

Smile to remember a smile

Smiles are contagious, even when we’re trying to remember them. A study carried out by a research team of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste shows that in order to recall an emotion (positive or negative) we “re-enact” the motor sequence of the facial expression corresponding to that emotion. In other words: when remembering a smile, we smile.

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Eleven maps for eleven rooms

The hippocampus – a structure in the brain – contains the representation of the environment we move in. But how many maps is it able to store without confusing one place with another? Quite a few, more than had been observed until now. That is the main finding of a study just published in PNAS and carried out by a research team led by May-Britt and Edvard Moser, scientists who were recently awarded the Nobel Prize. SISSA was also involved in the study.

SISSA per i piccoli

In occasione della settimana dei diritti dell’infanzia, nello spirito dell’iniziativa “Nati per leggere”, due ricercatori e il Direttore della SISSA leggeranno delle fiabe ai bambini dell’asilo nido della Scuola. Un’occasione riunire le persone che lavorano alla SISSA con i loro bambini in un evento festoso e per ribadire l’importanza della lettura fin dalla più tenera età.

The body’s emotions

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that causes numerous symptoms. Among them are also several difficulties affecting the emotional domain and a deficit in perceiving other people’s emotions based on their facial expressions. Now a new study carried out with the collaboration of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) in Trieste shows that also the ability to recognize emotions by reading body posture is impaired in patients with multiple sclerosis.

Actions versus objects

According to many scientists the fact that ALS patients experience (in addition to severe motor deficits) greater linguistic difficulty with verbs denoting action compared to nouns denoting objects depends on their motor deficit. The idea is that the motor system plays a role in the semantic encoding of these words. A new study conducted with the participation of SISSA has tested this hypothesis and suggests a major role for the “executive function”.

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