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HSE University Center for Language and Brain Becomes World Leader in Just 10 Years

HSE University Center for Language and Brain Becomes World Leader in Just 10 Years

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How can a small Russian research group become a world-famous scientific centre in less than a decade? A special edition of the Frontiers in Psychology journal devoted to increasing public awareness of neuroscience features an article about the HSE University Center for Language and Brain, including the successes and challenges of its early years.

Russia’s linguistic and neuropsychology schools have trained numerous famous figures in their respective fields. However, in the 21st century, only a small number of research groups in Russia have looked into areas that combine the two: psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics. Less than a decade ago, a small group of researchers led by Olga Dragoy began working in these fields. In the short time since, the group has grown into the HSE University Center for Language and Brain—a major scientific institution.

In the Frontiers in Psychology article, the Center’s staff share their experiences and turn a critical eye on their successes and failures. One notable example was the project to create the Russian Aphasia Test. The researchers now admit that their initial idea was too ambitious, and that young research groups are better off focusing on smaller-scale research that requires fewer resources. At the same time, the creation of the test is one example of the successful combination of research and clinical practice.

In addition to their research, the Centre’s staff also discuss their educational activities—such as assigning annual term papers to students. While a standard practice in Russia, it is less common in other countries. Term papers give junior students an opportunity to conduct research and gain experience before enrolling in doctoral programmes—experience that students in many other countries lack

Olga Dragoy, Director of the Center for Language and Brain

‘Flexibility in your research interests at the start of your academic career can pay off. If an opportunity presents itself to work on a topic that you weren’t originally interested in, give it a go anyway—it may end up having long-term potential and becoming something you love.'

The article shares experience and recommendations to help young research groups in Russia and abroad, inspire them, and offer guidance in decision-making and setting priorities when creating similar research centres.

According to Svetlana Malyutina, Senior Research Fellow of the Center for Language and Brain, ‘One of the best investments a young research group can make is to recruit and communicate with students. Sure, it takes up precious time and effort, but it pays off in the end—talented students are the driving force behind countless projects.’

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Cognitive Reappraisal of Negative Emotions Can Help Manage Stress

Researchers at the HSE International Laboratory of Social Neurobiology assessed the effectiveness of two strategies for regulating emotions: reappraisal and suppression. Having analysed data on the electrical activity of 60 individuals’ brains, the scientists discovered that both approaches put additional strain on the nervous system. It was also found that individuals who are prone to emotional contagion tend to be more effective in using reappraisal and managing negative emotions. The paper has been published in Experimental Brain Research.

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HSE Creates ‘Transfer of Neurocognitive Technologies’ Consortium

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'While it May Sound Futuristic, It Holds Great Promise': Olga Dragoy Shares Her Thoughts on Language Function Restoration and the Future of Neurotechnology

In the spring of 2023, the fifth strategic project of the Priority 2030 programme, 'Human Brain Resilience: Neurocognitive Technologies for Adaptation, Learning, Development and Rehabilitation in a Changing Environment,' was launched at HSE University. The strategic project brings together researchers from all campuses of HSE University. In her interview with the HSE News Service, Olga Dragoy, head of the strategic project and Director of the HSE Centre for Language and Brain, shares an overview of the advanced technologies neuroscientists are creating today, the underlying inspiration driving these efforts, and the operational dynamics of interdisciplinary applied projects.

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