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Over the past months, a sudden influx of ‘Pokémon Go’ players could be observed across the globe. Youngsters, people of all ages scrutinise their surroundings silently, using their smartphones to catch those digital creatures with unlikely names. How could such a phenomenon take over the world so fast? Part of the answer may be the game’s strong interaction with the real-world and its impressive mapping, offering a whole new virtual experience of spaces that seem to be familiar and yet so different.
More than 3.5 million new people are diagnosed with heart failure every year in Europe, with a long-term prognosis of 50% mortality within four years. There is urgent need for more innovative, regenerative therapies with the potential to change the course of the condition.
While on court, beach volleyball players need to act as a whole in order to prevent the ball from touching the sand: in a fraction of a second - just before the opponent's hand spikes the ball - the passer has to predict and adjust to the attacker's action as well as to their teammate's block position. Thanks to her Consolidator Grant, cognitive science professor Natalie Sebanz is studying the cognitive and psychological mechanisms underlying joint action expertise – in other words, how individuals learn skilled actions, such as those performed by professional athletes, together.
European researchers have designed brain-like artificial neural networks capable of numerical and spatial cognition and written language processing without any explicit training or pre-programming. Their work, based on the machine-learning approach of generative models, significantly advances the development of self-learning artificial intelligence, while also deepening understanding of human cognition.
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in Europe. Prevention relies on measuring traditional risk factors such as age, gender, hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia and smoking. However, many individuals, apparently at low-risk, still develop CVD. Improving predictions beyond the traditional risk factors is the challenge undertaken by Prof. Olle Melander.
Stronger than steel, conducting electricity better than copper and heat better than diamonds: these are some of the promises held by carbon nanomaterials. Although not as well-known as graphene, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) show these properties – offering also a great advantage: they can be produced in larger quantities. Prof. Michael De Volder now explores new ways to manufacture CNTs-based devices with optimal features, potentially opening the way to their broader commercial use.
While computers can calculate or recognise faces, they are not aware of themselves (yet?). Consciousness is in the essence of human beings; its nature, however, appears to lack a reliable explanation. Prof. Axel Cleeremans is developing a new theory, the Radical Plasticity Thesis, maintaining that consciousness is a long-lasting property of our brain rather than just a static feature. In order to test it, he is taking a multidisciplinary approach including psychological studies and advanced brain imaging.
Antibiotics are amongst the most crucial discoveries in modern medicine. However, the surge in microbial resistance to these, now common, drugs is a challenge that medical researchers work hard to tackle. Prof. Susanne Häußler from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research believes early diagnostic tools could shift the paradigm of how we battle this problem.
Parents may threat at the idea of their children playing in fields and sheds, but research shows that those who grew up in farms, where this is common occurrence, are less likely to suffer from allergies and asthma. Prof. Erika von Mutius leads a team of researchers, that uses this knowledge to investigate how we could treat such conditions more effectively.
Thousands of new cases of head-and-neck cancer - which includes cancer of the larynx, throat, mouth, nose and salivary glands - are diagnosed every year in Europe. Despite improvements in diagnostic and therapeutic tools, these malignant tumours still show high resistance to current treatments. Dr Daniela Thorwarth is working on tailored therapies for individual patients.