Research News | Duke Kunshan University

Research News

Recent research highlights from Duke Kunshan University’s centers and programs, plus a few other places. Use the filter to narrow your search.

Out of sight, but not out of mind

The question of whether primates can remember or reconstruct past events has puzzled generations of psychologists and philosophers. However, a study by cognitive neuroscientist Sze Chai Kwok and colleagues at the Shanghai Key Laboratory of Brain Functional Genomics has revealed evidence of memory reconstruction of cinematic events in rhesus macaque monkeys. The findings, published in Behavioural Brain Research, shed light on the emergence of retrospection in human evolution.

Tribal take on the preservation, revitalization of Native American languages

Like many indigenous peoples, Native American tribes struggle with decline of their languages, and revitalization efforts have attracted attention from around the world. Oklahoma, with the highest concentration of Native American tribes and languages, presents the perfect microcosm of these efforts. In a chapter for the Handbook of the Changing World Language Map, interculturalist Emmanuelle Chiocca finds that tribal efforts differ greatly from external suggestions. Though there are some examples of growth, it rests with each community to decide what constitutes “success” for them.

Mathematical model demonstrates persistent CSD disruption

Cortical spreading depression (CSD) is a slow-moving wave in the brain’s gray matter that commonly occurs in distressed states, such as strokes and migraines. It can narrow the blood vessels and cause neurovascular disruption over several timescales. Focusing on an hour-long timescale, Shixin Xu and colleagues in the U.S. and Canada used a mathematical model to show that calcium clearance within the mitochondria of vascular smooth muscle cells can drive an hour-long disruption. The findings, published in PLOS Computational Biology, suggest the vascular system actively participates in its own dysregulation.

Understanding why U.S. cadets take on critical languages

Learning a language requires an immense investment of time and effort. Yet strategic necessity compels institutions like the United States military to produce officers capable of understanding critical languages like Mandarin. What factors propel future military personnel to take on this additional burden? Writing in Intercultural Education, interculturalist Emmanuelle Chiocca answers this question through interviews of U.S. Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets, finding their goals developed as reinforcing clusters of military application and personal pleasure. The evolution of motivations affected sociolinguistic competence, leading to increased cultural awareness.

Evidentialism and belief polarization

Belief polarization occurs when subjects who disagree on a matter of fact are exposed to a mixed body of evidence that bears on that dispute. Despite assumptions to the contrary, mutual exposure to common evidence leads to disagreements becoming more pronounced, as each person increases confidence in his or her antecedent belief. Writing in the journal Synthese, epistemologist Emily McWilliams argues that the resulting beliefs are not justified based on plausible versions of evidentialism, a popular theory of justification.

How contemporary Korean art explored the ‘third space’

In a chapter for “Korean Art from 1953: Collision, Innovation, Interaction,” contemporary art historian Jung E. Choi chronicles Korean art from the 1980s to the present while focusing on the artistic explorations of the “third space” – the in-between space that brings together the immaterial and the material, the unseen and the seen, time and space, and different sensory modalities. A review in The New York Times called the book the first significant English-language overview of modern and contemporary art in Korea.

The effects of livestock loss on farmers in natural habitats

Livestock grazing in forests has intensified human-wildlife conflicts and caused habitat degradation for endangered species. Working with India’s Centre for Wildlife Studies, conservation experts Binbin Li and Kelley Reardon, iMEP ’19, studied the impact of livestock loss in natural habitats on farming household decisions. The findings, published in Biological Conservation, showed that higher profit is more important to households than potential livestock losses, and that emerging livestock types could provide a win-win solution in some cases.

Mefenamic acid may ease depressive symptoms triggered by chronic stress

Psychosocial stresses such as a perceived threat to one’s safety or social status are major risk factors for the onset of depression. However, biologist Chang Y. Chung and fellow researchers have discovered that depressive behaviors induced by chronic mild stresses may improve with the use of mefenamic acid, an anti-inflammatory drug used for short-term pain relief. Mefenamic acid inhibits microglia activation/phagocytosis induced by chronic stress in the hippocampus, resulting in the improvement of depressive symptoms. The findings were published by Brain Research.

Reducing air pollution, increasing greenery could slow or prevent cognitive decline

Despite cognitive decline being the most feared aspect of growing old, there is a lack of research into the potential effect air pollution and other risk factors can have on brain function, especially in developing countries. Using data from the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Study to conduct two separate studies, environmental health expert John Ji and colleagues in China and the U.S. found that reducing exposure to PM2.5 (tiny, harmful airborne particles) could delay or prevent poor cognitive function, while increasing residential greenness could have a similarly positive effect.

Indistinguishable particles can enhance collective performance of quantum heat engines

In research published in Physical Review Letters, quantum physicist Myung-Joong Hwang and colleagues in China, Germany, India and the U.S. show that by harnessing indistinguishability, a fundamental property of quantum particles, the collective thermodynamic performance of quantum heat engines can be made more efficient.