SpeechContacts Human Communication Skills Newsletter 3

We’re amazing creatures, we humans. Our opposable thumbs aren’t the only things that set us apart. Almost daily, research seems to uncover more astonishing detail of the way we think and communicate.

Here’s just a small selection of items from the recent news, on brains, music, attention skills and bilingualism.

 Communication News Roundup

Your brain feels someone else's pain
The ABC News website reports research into the embarrassment subjects felt when they watched other people’s pratfalls and other misfortunes. Read more

Brain research moves fast. The views we held on language and communication a few years ago are starting to change.

Mirror neurons in our brains help us recognise what other people are doing and what their intentions may be. Now we can see that empathy is more than a vague desire to be fluffy and kind: it’s an important reality.

For a fascinating, and easily readable, discussion of the neurology behind this, you may enjoy V S Ramachandran’s The Tell-Tale Brain (Click the link on the right of the page to find this Amazon Kindle).

“Musical activity throughout life may serve as a challenging cognitive exercise, making your brain fitter and more capable of accommodating the challenges of aging,” said lead researcher Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, PhD.in a study published by the American Psychological Association.

The research suggests that studying music, especially at higher levels, benefits your brain throughout your life, even if you drop your musical studies in later life. Read more from WebWire

Attention Skills
Low working memory capacity can be a problem for some, reports The Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition. You need to be able to focus on more than one thing at a time, and to move your attention wherever it needs to be, to read the world around and avoid incidents such as road accidents.

Read more on the mangalorean.com website 

If you have a baby or toddler, check out the chapter on attention skills in SpeechContacts’ own Amazon kindle, How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter

Learning Two Languages
Bilingual people may become more flexible thinkers.

The University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, co-directed by Patricia Kuhl and Andrew Meltzoff, is actively researching early learning, and has some insights into the ways babies and young children learn language.

The research reinforces recent suggestions, that learning a second language has benefits for children that reach forward into their lives. The research touches on the importance of play for social development and on how a child’s relationship with her parents may predict how soon she is ready for school. Read more

Here's another post about early language development and bilingualism 

If you see a news item on communication, language, speech or wellbeing that you think will interest SpeechContacts followers, why not send me a message through Twitter, leave a comment here on the blog at or write on the facebook page.

I write this Communication Blog

My photo

Frances Evesham: on the run around Europe for years, with only a husband, three children and a succession of opinionated cats to keep me out of trouble. Somerset stopped me in my tracks. Now I walk in the country and breathe sea air. I will get around to cleaning the house soon.

I've been a speech therapist, a professional communication fiend and a road sweeper. I sometimes work in the criminal courts to uphold fair questioning of people with special needs.

I smell the roses, lavender and rosemary as I cook with a glass of wine in one hand and a bunch of chillies in the other. Writing historical romances and books on communication leaves enough time to enjoy bad jokes and puns and wish I’d kept on with the piano lessons.