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If it had not been for the discoveries of Arvid Carlsson we would have no drugs for Parkinson’s disease. In a recent post for The Conversation, Reading neuroscientist Dr Patrick Lewis explores the legacy of the scientist who discovered a critical molecule that brain cells use to communicate.

Arvid Carlsson, the Swedish neuroscientist and Nobel laureate, died on June 29, 2018 at the age of 95. He had devoted his life to understanding how the brain works and was awarded the Nobel for his research into dopamine – an important chemical found in the brain.

So what is dopamine, and why did finding out about it merit the Nobel Prize?

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Professor Rosa Freedman says bias towards Israel played a part in the US leaving the UN Human Rights Council. She examines the likely fall-out in a recent post for The Conversation. 

The US’s announcement that it is leaving the UN Human Rights Council should not surprise anyone, since the Trump administration has long made clear its disdain for many parts of the United Nations. But the damage that the decision is likely to cause could nonetheless topple an increasingly wobbly house of cards.

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When Billy Caldwell’s medicinal cannabis oil was recently seized at Heathrow Airport, the drug was put back in the spotlight. Reading’s Professor Gary Stephens investigates the effects of cannabis-derived compounds on the brain. Here gives update on the research, why it’s needed and how long it will be before new drugs will reach patients in a new post for The Conversation.

Gary Stephens with University of Reading colleagues Dr Ben Whalley and Dr Claire Williams, pictured at a Cannabis-growing site in 2011.

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Dr Alina Tryfonidou explores a landmark EU Court of Justice ruling which provides greater clarity and legal certainty for same-sex couples who get married in an EU member state, in a new post for The Conversation

Image credit: May S Young (Flickr), CC-BY-2.0

In an historic ruling for the rights of same-sex couples, the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) has held that for the purposes of EU free movement law, the notion of a “spouse” includes the same-sex spouse of an EU citizen.

The case was referred to the ECJ from the Romanian Constitutional Court which was confronted with a dispute between a couple, Adrian Coman, a Romanian national, and Claibourn Hamilton, a US national, and the Romanian authorities. After living for a number of years in Belgium, where the couple married, Coman wished to return to Romania with his spouse. But Hamilton was refused the right to reside in Romania as Coman’s husband, on the grounds that Romania does not recognise same-sex marriage.

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Our native language and emotions are closely woven together. Being bilingual offers an emotional detachment that can be useful for reasoning, but which also makes it easier to swear, says David Miller in a new post for The Conversation.

Image credit: BeelginCC-BY-2.0  

A taxi driver recently cut me up on the motorway. Without hesitation, I machine-gunned a string of vulgarity at the poor man. What struck me was that every word that came out of my mouth was in Spanish. As a native speaker of English, having learned Spanish as an adult, English should have been the more readily accessible language. Yet there I was, cussing out this stranger in Mexican-accented Spanish alongside an assortment of inappropriate hand gestures.

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The language the oil industry uses to talk about climate change has altered over time as it attempts to distance itself from culpability, says linguistics specialist Dr Sylvia Jaworska in a new post for The Conversation.

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While President Abdel Fatteh al-Sisi’s success in this week’s Egyptian elections was guaranteed, support for him is flagging and monumental challenges to his power lie ahead, says Professor Dina Rezk in a new post for The Conversation.

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New archaeological research on Glastonbury Abbey pushes back the date for the earliest settlement of the site by 200 years – and reopens debate on Glastonbury’s origin myths, says Professor Roberta Gilchrist in a new post for The Conversation.

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The ‘language of depression’ can be spotted using computer analysis which looks for patterns of words used by those who are suffering from the disorder, explains PhD researcher Mohammed Al-Mosaiwi in a new post for The Conversation.

Kurt Cobain by Maia Valenzuela/Flickr, CC BY-SA

From the way you move and sleep, to how you interact with people around you, depression changes just about everything. It is even noticeable in the way you speak and express yourself in writing. Sometimes this “language of depression” can have a powerful effect on others. Just consider the impact of the poetry and song lyrics of Sylvia Plath and Kurt Cobain, who both killed themselves after suffering from depression.

Scientists have long tried to pin down the exact relationship between depression and language, and technology is helping us get closer to a full picture. Our new study, published in Clinical Psychological Science, has now unveiled a class of words that can help accurately predict whether someone is suffering from depression.

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Activities outside the classroom which build confidence and resilience are not part of the formal curriculum despite strong evidence that they help children to be the best they can be and grow into centred, productive adults. Government should drop its obsession with grades and embrace a new approach to dealing with educational inequality, says Professor Carol Fuller in a new piece for The Conversation.

Image by bobcox is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Image by bobcox is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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