Elucidating the ‘shared brain’

To date, everything we know about how a person’s social identity is formed has been based on conscious processes of measurement and self-assessment (for example, post-hoc questionnaires or verbal reports). However, it is highly likely that the formation of a conscious social identity begins in, and is heavily influenced by, processes within the unconscious; such influences between unconscious and conscious processes have been demonstrated time and again over the last half-century of psychological research.

Urban gardening in early medieval Italy: cultivating the city

In early medieval Italy, the real marker of political power was control of food resources. More than military force, legislative authority, or religious ceremony, the ability to secure food supplies meant wealth, social status, and legitimacy. Kings gave gifts of farms, vineyards and orchards to loyal retainers, and laymen and laywomen secured their families’ continued use of agricultural plots by promising them to churches.

New life for lost plays

Greek tragedy is considered the wellspring of the Western theatrical tradition, but the plays that survive represent a tiny proportion of what once existed. Of the 1200 tragedies or so we know were performed during the fifth century BCE, less than 3% made it through to the modern day. It is tempting to believe that these plays represent the ‘best’ of what was ever written, but the road to survival was plagued by vagaries.

The birth of Greek culture

From the invention of prose to innovations in epic and lyric poetry, from the beginnings of philosophical exposition to the origins of historical enquiry, many of the characteristic features of ancient Greek culture had their origins in one particular place and time. The place was Ionia, a region on the western coast of modern-day Turkey, and the time was the archaic period between c.750–550 BCE. 

How do hearing people learn BSL as a foreign language?

British Sign Language (BSL) is the first language of deaf people in the UK. There has been an enormous increase in the numbers of hearing people learning BSL in recent years. In 2009 there were an estimated 190,000 hearing adults who had learned at least basic level BSL. Hearing adults learn BSL as a second language for a hobby or personal and professional reasons. However we know almost nothing about how hearing adults learn to sign and whether it differs to learning a spoken second.

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