Today, we will learn another use of 〜そうです (~sou desu). After today’s lesson, you will be able to say “I heard~” in Japanese. - See more at:

UWinnipeg approves mandatory indigenous course requirement

Going forward, students at the University of Winnipeg will have to take at least one indigenous studies course in order to graduate.

​The U of W senate approved, in principle, a motion on Thursday that will require all students take a course focused on indigenous rights, art, cultural traditions, history or governance.

“We are very proud of the vision and leadership demonstrated by our students,” Annette Trimbee, president and vice-chancellor of U of W, said in a release.

“We have taken an important step on the path to a better, more understanding, and inclusive society. The University of Winnipeg is proud to be a catalyst for positive change.”

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Playing music by professional musicians activates genes for learning and memory

Music performance is known to induce structural and functional changes to the human brain and enhance cognition. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying music performance have been so far unexplored. A Finnish research group has now investigated the effect of music performance (in a 2 hr concert) on the gene expression profiles of professional musicians from Tapiola Sinfonietta (a professional orchestra) and Sibelius-Academy (a music university).  

Playing music enhanced the activity of genes involved in dopaminergic neurotransmission, motor function, learning and memory. Some of the up-regulated genes like SNCA, FOS and DUSP1 are known to contribute to song perception and production in songbirds suggesting a potential evolutionary conservation in molecular mechanisms related to sound production across species.

In addition, several of the up-regulated genes are known to be involved in biological pathways like calcium ion homeostasis and iron ion homeostasis that are essential for neuronal function, survival and neuroprotection.  

"The findings provide a valuable background for molecular studies of music perception and evolution, and music therapy", says the leader of the study, Dr. Irma Järvelä from the University of Helsinki.

(Image: Getty)


SciShow Kids: Why Do Ships Float?

Ever wonder why something as heavy as a cruise ship could float above the water? Learn about displacement with Jessi and The Giant Squid, Squidstravaganza! 

Imagine you’re learning a new language, and Loki - your charming boyfriend - offers to help you. He convinces you to speak your in-progress language, and then surprises you when he replies fluently in the same one. 

You didn’t know Loki was capable of speaking other earthly languages, however, when he explains to you that it’s an ability that his magic gives him you understand.

Impressed and stunned, you get him to spend the entire evening murmuring affections to you in every language on Earth.

After Learning New Words, Brain Sees Them as Pictures

When we look at a known word, our brain sees it like a picture, not a group of letters needing to be processed. That’s the finding from a Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, which shows the brain learns words quickly by tuning neurons to respond to a complete word, not parts of it.

Neurons respond differently to real words, such as turf, than to nonsense words, such as turt, showing that a small area of the brain is “holistically tuned” to recognize complete words, says the study’s senior author, Maximilian Riesenhuber, PhD, who leads the GUMC Laboratory for Computational Cognitive Neuroscience.

“We are not recognizing words by quickly spelling them out or identifying parts of words, as some researchers have suggested. Instead, neurons in a small brain area remember how the whole word looks — using what could be called a visual dictionary,” he says.

This small area in the brain, called the visual word form area, is found in the left side of the visual cortex, opposite from the fusiform face area on the right side, which remembers how faces look. “One area is selective for a whole face, allowing us to quickly recognize people, and the other is selective for a whole word, which helps us read quickly,” Riesenhuber says.

The study asked 25 adult participants to learn a set of 150 nonsense words. The brain plasticity associated with learning was investigated with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), both before and after training.

Using a specific fMRI technique know as fMRI-rapid adaptation, the investigators found that the visual word form area changed as the participants learned the nonsense words. Before training the neurons responded like the training words were nonsense words, but after training the neurons responded to the learned words like they were real words. “This study is the first of its kind to show how neurons change their tuning with learning words, demonstrating the brain’s plasticity,“ says the study’s lead author, Laurie Glezer, PhD.

The findings not only help reveal how the brain processes words, but also provides insights into how to help people with reading disabilities, says Riesenhuber. “For people who cannot learn words by phonetically spelling them out — which is the usual method for teaching reading — learning the whole word as a visual object may be a good strategy.”

In fact, after the team’s first groundbreaking study on the visual dictionary was published in Neuron in 2009, Riesenhuber says they were contacted by a number of people who had experienced reading difficulties and teachers helping people with reading difficulties, reporting that learning word as visual objects helped a great deal. That study revealed the existence of a neural representation for whole written real words — also known as an orthographic lexicon —the current study now shows how novel words can become incorporated after learning in this lexicon.

“The visual word form area does not care how the word sounds, just how the letters of the word look together,” he says. “The fact that this kind of learning only happens in one very small part of the brain is a nice example of selective plasticity in the brain,”

jamesshuler asked:

Can you tell me some things about Japanese transitive and intransitive verbs, please. It's kinda confusing :(

Super sorry it took so long to reply. I’m not on often enough on my computer to sit down and right a helpful response. So I’m sure you already figured out an answer :) or maybe not. Verbs are the most difficult grammar concept in any language.

Whenever it comes to grammar, online my favorite resource is Tae Kim’s guide

Transitive verbs (even in English) take a direct object. The verb cannot happen without a noun object related to it. Intransitive verbs do not take a direct objet. Intransitive means they can stand alone. (INdependent / INtransitive). If it makes it easier, forget the words transitive and intransitive and just focus on their functions. Because honestly, every time I practice/learn new verbs I have to look up with the word transitive or intransitive means first, and that just gets in the way. Learn how to use them.

Honestly when it comes to verbs I learned how to use them through time with practice. There is sort of a rhythm to verbs that take an object and those that don’t. Verbs that take an object (あける、しめる、つける) often have an え sound as the last letter of the verb stem whereas verbs that don’t take an object usually don’t (あく、しまる、つく)

Of course that’s not a rule and definitely not an all the time thing, but often times that is the case for the verb structure between the two types of verbs.

In Japanese を is the direct object particle. It goes between the verb and the object(noun) it’s being attached to. が is used for relating an intransitive verb to a noun.

Looking at just the definitions of these verbs may make it difficult to tell what the sentences are actually saying. Let’s use the example on the guide I linked above.

“The ball dropped” vs “I dropped the ball”
「ボールが落ちた」 vs 「ボールを落とした」

In the first sentence, the verb does not take a direct object. You could put 落ちた in a sentence by itself. Of course, out of context, it might not make a lot of sense. But it is, indeed, a sentence. In this sentence, the focus is on the ball

In the second sentence, the verb 落とす takes a direct object using the particle を. You can not use 落とした as a standalone sentence. Think of saying “I dropped” in English. Okay, what did you drop? It needs a direct object. In this case, it’s the ball. 
In Japanese, the subject is marked by は or が right? And in this sentence there is no defined subject. Because unlike English, if the subject is obvious (in this case “I”, it can be removed). 私はボールを落とした is the full sentence. The focus is on you, the speaker and not the ball.

I know this is a lot to take in. Verbs are intense. I still don’t have a perfect grasp on them. Definitely read that article for more tips and explanation.