By Colm Gorey, Science Communications Manager
At Frontiers, we bring some of the world’s best research to a global audience. But with tens of thousands of articles published each year, many often fly under the radar. Now, as part of new series each month, Frontiers will highlight just some of those amazing papers you may have missed.
1: New treatment for tinnitus shows promise for further study
More than 10% of the world’s population is estimated to live with a condition called tinnitus, where a range of sounds ranging from ringing to buzzing are heard in the ears that never goes away. While ranging in severity, between 0.5% and 3% of people diagnosed with it say their quality of life is impacted, with no known cure.
However, researchers in South Korea have published a paper in Frontiers in Neuroscience putting forward hopeful findings that suggest a new treatment method could be possible for subacute and chronic tinnitus.
The small study saw 55 patients undergo repeated nerve blocks after stimulation of the trigeminal and facial nerves to modulate the auditory and non-auditory nervous systems via the vestibulocochlear cranial nerve pathways.
In more than 87.5% of patients, tinnitus disappeared or had significantly reduced by the end of the treatment. The researchers hope that further, larger trials will confirm their findings and also eliminate any potential for a placebo effect having influenced the results.
2: Major expansion of marine forests in a warmer Arctic
The climate crisis is accelerating a major expansion of marine forests in a warming Arctic, according to a recent study published to Frontiers in Marine Science.
Researchers based in Denmark, Portugal, and Saudi Arabia warned that accelerating warming and associated loss of sea ice are expected to promote the expansion of coastal marine forests (macrophytes) along the massive Arctic coastlines. Yet, this region has received much less attention compared to other global oceans.
Their models projected major expansions of Arctic macrophytes between 69,940 sq km and 123,360 sq km, depending on the climate scenario, with polar distribution limits shifting northwards by up to 1.5 latitude degrees at 21.81km per decade.
Such expansions in response to changing climate will likely elicit major changes in biodiversity and ecosystem functions in the future Arctic. Expansions are, however, less intense than those already realized over the past century, indicating an overall slowing down despite accelerated warming as habitats become increasingly occupied.
3: Ancient ancestors never changed their tools, despite living through 200,000 years of enormous environmental change
The Oldowan – one of the oldest stone tools – represents the earliest recurrent evidence of human material culture and one of the longest-lasting forms of technology. Its appearance across the African continent amid the Plio-Pleistocene profound ecological transformations, and posterior dispersal throughout the Old World is at the foundation of hominin technological dependence.
In a recent study published to Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, an international team of researchers analyzed tools from a recently discovered archeological site called Ewass Oldupa in Tanzania.
The team’s results indicated that hominins overcame major ecological challenges while relying on technological strategies that remained essentially unchanged. This highlights the Oldowan efficiency, as its basic set of technological traits was able to sustain hominins throughout multiple environments.
4: Creation and Validation of the Japanese Cute Infant Face (JCIF) Dataset
What makes someone ‘cute’? A team of researchers in Japan recently published an article to Frontiers in Psychology on a dataset they created of Japanese infant faces aimed to help scientists understand what drives our perception of what cute means.
Simply called the Japanese Cute Infant Face (JCIF) database, the researchers said it can be a useful tool for future research in this field. Despite increasing interest in cuteness research, there has been no specialized dataset of infant faces created, partly because of the portrait rights problem.
Among its findings, the team said the results showed that young men had poorer sensitivity to cuteness differences in infant faces than older men and women of any age.
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