Mr. Soto's Human Geography
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Rescooped by Jose Soto from Cultural Geography!

Religious persecution on the rise

Religious persecution on the rise | Mr. Soto's Human Geography |

On the same day that the news emerged of a Pakistani Christian couple burnt to death in a kiln by enraged Muslim villagers for apparently unwittingly burning the verses of the Koran, Prince Charles was addressing a gathering at the House of Lords on religious freedom.  The future King, who once said that he wished to be Defender of Faith, rather than Defender of the Faith on ascending the throne, made an eloquent plea for religious tolerance at home and across the world.

Via Seth Dixon
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Rescooped by Jose Soto from FCHS AP HUMAN GEOGRAPHY!

Polder and wiser

Polder and wiser | Mr. Soto's Human Geography |
How long until the robots arrive? AT THE entrance to Hoeve Rosa farm, in the southern Dutch province of Limburg, a sign gives a warning that unmanned machines might...

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Rescooped by Jose Soto from FCHS AP HUMAN GEOGRAPHY!

Polder and wiser

Polder and wiser | Mr. Soto's Human Geography |
How long until the robots arrive? AT THE entrance to Hoeve Rosa farm, in the southern Dutch province of Limburg, a sign gives a warning that unmanned machines might...

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Rescooped by Jose Soto from Geography Education!

The Literary United States: A Map of the Best Book for Every State

The Literary United States: A Map of the Best Book for Every State | Mr. Soto's Human Geography |

"Two weeks ago, we published a literary map of Brooklyn, highlighting the books we felt best represented the neighborhoods in which they were set. Compiling the list of books for that map had us thinking about what it means for a story to not just be from a place, but also of it, and why it is that some places have an abundance of literary riches (we’re looking at you, American South), while others, well, don’t. There are those stories that so beautifully evoke a time and a place and a way of life that it becomes close to impossible to separate the literary perception of a place from its reality—one winds up informing the other.  All [books on this states list] are literary in voice and spirit; every last one will let you understand a time and place in a more profound way than you maybe thought possible.

Tags: English.

Via Seth Dixon
BI Media Specialists's curator insight, October 27, 2014 10:03 AM

This looks neat! How many of these books have you read?


Rescooped by Jose Soto from Geography Education!

Linguistic Family Tree

Linguistic Family Tree | Mr. Soto's Human Geography |

"When linguists talk about the historical relationship between languages, they use a tree metaphor. An ancient source (say, Indo-European) has various branches (e.g., Romance, Germanic), which themselves have branches (West Germanic, North Germanic), which feed into specific languages (Swedish, Danish, Norwegian).  Minna Sundberg, creator of the webcomic Stand Still. Stay Silent, a story set in a lushly imagined post-apocalyptic Nordic world, has drawn the antidote to the boring linguistic tree diagram."

Via Seth Dixon
Linda Denty's curator insight, November 9, 2014 7:31 PM

A really wonderful graphic.

Nevermore Sithole's curator insight, November 11, 2014 3:21 AM

Linguistic Family Tree

Sreya Ayinala's curator insight, December 2, 2014 9:50 PM

Unit 3 Cultural Patterns and Processes (Language)

      The image shows how many languages are related and have many common ancestors. Languages are grouped into language families and are even more broadly categorized.

      Language is a huge part of culture and it is the way that people communicate amongst each other. There are hundreds of languages in our world, but as globalization and pop culture diffuse many languages are being lost and no longer spoken. A good example of a dead language would be Latin. Many of our common day languages trace their roots back to Latin, but no one speaks Latin anymore.

Rescooped by Jose Soto from Geography Education!

The Second Languages Of Every Part Of The World In One Incredible Infographic

The Second Languages Of Every Part Of The World In One Incredible Infographic | Mr. Soto's Human Geography |
Some of these will surprise you.


Tags: language, culture.

Via Seth Dixon
Christopher L. Story's curator insight, November 7, 2014 9:59 AM

any surprises?

Caterin Victor's curator insight, November 7, 2014 2:35 PM

It is never a second language,  my grandmother used to say : "As many languages you learn, is never to much, never enought".!!

Rescooped by Jose Soto from Geography Education!

McDonald's International

McDonald's International | Mr. Soto's Human Geography |

Via Seth Dixon
Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 17, 2014 10:45 PM

We talk about McDonalds as a way of Americanizing the rest of the world. These foods show that it may still be the case but local culture is still infused and desired where McDonalds expands to.

Payton Sidney Dinwiddie 's curator insight, January 21, 2015 9:40 PM

This shows that mmcdonals is a global industy . there are many mcdonalds everywhere they put a spin oncertain diishes to match their heritage like in japan instead of hamburger meat like we americans use the use crabs.It just really shows how far mcdonalds was changed from just starting in america to being featured all over the globe

Kristin Mandsager San Bento's curator insight, January 22, 2015 7:06 PM

I've lived and traveled to a few places especially Asia.  I've had the Ramen at McD's in Hawaii along with the Portugeuse sausage that comes with the big breakfast.  I've also experienced Japanese McD's.  It was nice to be able to find some of the regular food like a burger and fry at any McD's in the world, but I never ordered anything else. 

Rescooped by Jose Soto from Regional Geography!

Ebola threatens chocolate

Ebola threatens chocolate | Mr. Soto's Human Geography |
The world's largest producer of cacao has shut down its borders due to the virus.

Via Seth Dixon
Seth Dixon's curator insight, October 16, 2014 7:37 AM

The West African nation of the Ivory Coast — also known as Côte D’Ivoire — has yet to experience a single case of Ebola, but the outbreak already could raise prices.

Rescooped by Jose Soto from FCHS AP HUMAN GEOGRAPHY!

Feeding Our Hungry Planet

"By 2050, the world's population will likely increase 35 percent. But is growing more food the only option—or even the best? National Geographic investigates the challenges and solutions to feeding everyone on our planet, based on an eight-month series in National Geographic magazine.  Visit for ongoing coverage of food issues as we investigate the Future of Food today on World Food Day."


Tags: sustainability, agriculture, food production, unit 5 agriculture.

Via Seth Dixon, FCHSAPGEO
Nancy Watson's curator insight, October 19, 2014 8:53 AM

Population increase is just part of the story. How do we feed everyone? How will we provide for the needs of everyone?  Can the earth sustain the use of her resources and the impact of our growing needs and output. First we must eat. Can we learn to do that wisely? 

Bella Reagan's curator insight, November 28, 2014 5:48 PM

Unit 2-Population


This video was about the growing population in the world and as a result the growing food demand. This video points out that even though more food production seems like the solution, instead other solutions are more logical. Solutions include reducing wastes, preserving forests, being more productive on current farms and more. It states that farming is a huge business but it goes towards more than growing food for people to eat but also for other things like animals and materials. The worlds population is growing and there needs to be a change in food industries to keep thriving. 


This relates to unit 2 about population since it is thinking of ways to adapt to the worlds growing population. By 2050 it is predicted that population will increase by 33% and something has to change about food in order for people to stay fed. There is too much food being wasted that if that could be decreased it could make a huge difference. The video made a good point that it's not that we need more food it's that we need to manage and prioritize production.  

Blayze Padgett's curator insight, January 10, 1:03 PM

The article/video relates to AP Human Geography because it involves Thomas Malthus's theory that population is going to surpass food production if we don't fix our priorities. In my opinion this article makes a very valid point that could be true. We don't exactly need to start more farms and spread agriculture, instead, we should pay attention to our priorities and make the right decisions with the food we harvest from agriculture.

Rescooped by Jose Soto from FCHS AP HUMAN GEOGRAPHY!

World Food Day: 10 myths about hunger

World Food Day: 10 myths about hunger | Mr. Soto's Human Geography |
How much do you know about global hunger? Carla Kweifio-Okai take a look at some of the biggest food production and nutrition myths

Via dilaycock, FCHSAPGEO
dilaycock's curator insight, October 16, 2014 5:34 PM

Play the interactive food game.

Rescooped by Jose Soto from Geography Education!

Aboard a Cargo Colossus

Aboard a Cargo Colossus | Mr. Soto's Human Geography |
The world’s biggest container ships, longer than the Eiffel Tower is high, are a symbol of an increasingly global marketplace. But they also face strong economic headwinds.

Via Seth Dixon
Matt Davidson's curator insight, October 23, 2014 7:23 AM

This fascinating article also includes a nice trade route map and raises the quest for new trade routes. Great for year 9 Geography course in Australia - global interconnections

Brian Wilk's curator insight, April 30, 2015 8:54 AM

Now this is something positive for China to crow about, or is it? With large vessels like this to transport raw and finished goods, China becomes more and more of an economic powerhouse with their geographically centered location on the world map. They are the financial backers and engineering firm that is behind Nicaragua's decision to build a second canal through Central America. You would think through their expertise at building new cities with the construction and infrastructure build out required that they would be prime candidates for this immense project. The Three River Gorges Dam project was the world's largest construction project while it was being built. China's experience is overshadowed by its woeful environmental and humanitarian record in these past projects. It's time for them to show the world that they can do it expertly, with regard to human lives and the environment. This canal, if done properly, would go a long way on the world's stage to show that China has indeed emerged as a world power and not some Third World hack that they have been in the past.

BrianCaldwell7's curator insight, April 5, 2016 8:15 AM

This article and video from the NY Times is a great way to show the magnitude of the largest vessels that drive the global economy. These containers are symbols of global commerce that enable economies of scale to be profitable and the outsourcing of so many manufacturing jobs to developing countries.  The invention of these containers have changed the geography of global shipping and today the vast majority of the world's largest ports are now in East Asia.  Today though, the biggest container ships are too big to go through the Panama Canal, encouraging China to build a larger canal through Nicaragua.      

Tags: transportation, globalization, diffusion, industry, economic.

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Spotlights: Raising Rural Incomes While Revitalising Local Culture

Spotlights: Raising Rural Incomes While Revitalising Local Culture | Mr. Soto's Human Geography |
The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a group of development agencies with mandates ranging from health and education to architecture, culture, microfinance, disaster reduction, rural development, the promotion of private-sector enterprise and the revitalisation of historic cities.
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Rescooped by Jose Soto from Human Rights and the Will to be free!

Celebratory South Sudan Prepares For Independence : NPR

After it declares independence on Saturday, South Sudan will face a challenge in developing good relations with the north after years of conflict.

Via Spencer Haskins
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Rescooped by Jose Soto from Fantastic Maps!

This map of international phone calls explains globalization

This map of international phone calls explains globalization | Mr. Soto's Human Geography |

"The map above shows the volume of phone calls between countries around the world, and it’s one way of measuring information flows around the world—it’s part of an index of global connectedness developed by business researchers and sponsored by shipper DHL.

The index finds that globalization began deepening once again last year after reaching a post-crisis plateau in 2012—but it’s far from the deeply connected world sold by globalization advocates."


Via Seth Dixon
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Rescooped by Jose Soto from FCHS AP HUMAN GEOGRAPHY!

Earth’s Soil Is Getting Too Salty for Crops to Grow

Earth’s Soil Is Getting Too Salty for Crops to Grow | Mr. Soto's Human Geography |
Buildup of salts on irrigated land has already degraded an area the size of France and is causing $27.3 billion annually in lost crops

Bella Reagan's curator insight, November 28, 2014 5:35 PM

Unit 1-Nature and perspectives on geography


This article is about the growing problem of salinization in soil, causing soil that is unable to grow or is toxic to most crops. Corn is one of the few crops that can grow. Irrigation leads to the higher concentrations of salt because of salts in the water left behind after it evaporates. The Indus VAlley of pakistan is suffering from this problem with almost a 50 percent decline in rice production. The Colorado river Basin is also being affected. 


This article ties to this unit in connecting the land and soils incapability to grow plants affecting humans. Humans are guilty of the high salt in the soil from use of irrigation to water plants not near water sources. Irrigation helps the plants but the long term affect is decreasing production. The salt concentration is declining food production resulting in millions of dollars lost in affected areas. This proves nature and human productivity are tied closely together, with humans changing and trying to help nature through irrigation, but ultimately hurting the land overtime. 

Lydia Tsao's curator insight, March 24, 2015 12:49 AM

The reason why salinization of soils is becoming a bigger and bigger issue is because of widespread commercial agriculture. Large companies that control commercial farms could not care less about the environment; they only care about making the most profit in the shortest amount of time. With large companies being dangerously vulnerable to sudden changes in the economy toward collapse, these large companies want to make a lot of profit without considering the environment. Because these companies want to make a lot of money, they are forcing farms to constantly replant and grow monocultures to satisfy the growing demand for food. This constant replanting does not allow for the soil to replenish its nutrients and go about its natural nitrogenous cycle, causing the over-salinization of soil as the soil cannot handle that much salt at one time. When these large companies are done squeezing the life juices of these farmers, they simply drop the farmer, leave the farmer all the problems, and move on the suck the blood of suffering farmers who need the support from large companies to survive.

Rescooped by Jose Soto from Metaglossia: The Translation World!

The science behind language and translation - Forum:Blog

The science behind language and translation - Forum:Blog | Mr. Soto's Human Geography |
One morning this summer I paid a visit to the sole United Nations agency in London. The headquarters of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) sit on the southern bank of the Thames, a short distance upstream from the Houses of Parliament. As I approached, I saw that a ship’s prow, sculpted in metal, was grafted like a nose to the ground floor of this otherwise bland building. Inside I met a dozen or so mostly female IMO translators. They were cheerful and chatty and better dressed than you might imagine for people who are often heard but rarely seen.

I walked upstairs to a glass-fronted booth, where I prepared to witness something both absolutely remarkable and utterly routine. The booth was about the size of a garden shed, and well lit but stuffy. Below us were the gently curving desks of the delegate hall, which was about half-full, occupied mostly by men in suits. I sat down between two interpreters named Marisa Pinkney and Carmen Soliño, and soon the first delegate started talking. Pinkney switched on her microphone. She paused briefly, and then began translating the delegate’s English sentences into Spanish.

Let’s unpick what she did that morning and itemise its components.

As the delegate spoke, Pinkney had to make sense of a message composed in one language while simultaneously constructing and articulating the same message in another tongue. The process required an extraordinary blend of sensory, motor and cognitive skills, all of which had to operate in unison. She did so continuously and in real time, without asking the speaker to slow down or clarify anything. She didn’t stammer or pause. Nothing in our evolutionary history can have programmed Pinkney’s brain for a task so peculiar and demanding. Executing it required versatility and nuance beyond the reach of the most powerful computers. It is a wonder that her brain, indeed any human brain, can do it at all.

Neuroscientists have explored language for decades and produced scores of studies on multilingual speakers. Yet understanding this process – simultaneous interpretation – is a much bigger scientific challenge. So much goes on in an interpreter’s brain that it’s hard even to know where to start. Recently, however, a handful of enthusiasts have taken up the challenge, and one region of the brain – the caudate nucleus – has already caught their attention.

The caudate isn’t a specialist language area; neuroscientists know it for its role in processes like decision making and trust. It’s like an orchestral conductor, coordinating activity across many brain regions to produce stunningly complex behaviours. Which means the results of the interpretation studies appear to tie into one of the biggest ideas to emerge from neuroscience over the past decade or two. It’s now clear that many of our most sophisticated abilities are made possible not by specialist brain areas dedicated to specific tasks, but by lightning-fast coordination between areas that control more general tasks, such as movement and hearing. Simultaneous interpretation, it seems, is yet another feat made possible by our networked brains.

Simultaneous interpretation often evokes a sense of drama. This may be because of its history: the creation of the League of Nations after World War I established the need for it, and use of the technique during the trials of senior Nazis at Nuremberg showcased its power. Doubts about accuracy lingered nonetheless; the UN Security Council didn’t fully adopt simultaneous interpretation until the early 1970s. “Until then they didn’t trust the interpreters,” says Barbara Moser-Mercer, an interpreter and researcher at the University of Geneva. But now the two traditional capitals of the multilingual conference world – the UN offices in Geneva and New York – have been joined by Brussels, as the expanding European Union incorporates more and more languages. The current total is 24, and some meetings involve interpretation of every one.

Looking down over the delegates at the IMO, I was reminded of the view from a captain’s bridge, or the gallery of a television studio. I had a feeling of control, a perverse reaction given that control is one thing interpreters lack. The words they utter and the speed at which they talk are determined by others. And even though Pinkney and Soliño had copies of some of the speeches that had been prepared for that morning, they had to be alive to humorous asides. Puns, sarcasm, irony and culture-specific jokes are an interpreter’s nightmare. As one interpreter has noted in an academic article, “Puns based on a single word with multiple meanings in the source language should generally not be attempted by interpreters, as the result will probably not be funny.” Quite.

Many of the delegates spoke in English, so the pressure on Anne Miles in the into-English booth down the hall was sporadic. Miles speaks French, German, Italian and Russian, and has been interpreting for 30 years. In between translating she told me about word order, another challenge that interpreters face daily. “With German the ‘nicht’, the ‘not’, can come at the very end of the sentence. So you may be enthusing about something and then the speaker finally says ‘nicht’. But if you’re a German native you can hear the ‘nicht’ coming by the intonation.” Word order is a particular problem in fish meetings, which Miles said she dreads. In a long sentence about a particular variety of fish, and in a language where the noun – the name of the fish – comes towards the end, the interpreter is left guessing about the subject of the sentence until it’s completed.

There’s humour in these pitfalls, of course. Miles told me about an agricultural meeting at which delegates discussed frozen bull’s semen; a French interpreter translated this as “matelot congelés”, or ‘deep-frozen sailors’. And she shared an error of her own, produced when a delegate spoke of the need to settle something “avant Milan” – ‘before Milan’, the city being the venue for a forthcoming meeting. Miles didn’t know about the Milan summit, so said that the issue wasn’t going to be settled for “mille ans”, or ‘a thousand years’.

Some speakers talk too fast. “There are various strategies. Some interpreters think it’s best just to stop and just say the delegate is speaking too fast.” Miles herself doesn’t find that useful because people have a natural pace, and someone asked to slow down is likely to pick up speed again. The alternative is to précis. “You have to be quick on the uptake. It’s not just language skills in this job, it’s being quick-brained and learning fast.”

Challenges of this kind make simultaneous interpretation tiring, and explained why the two interpreters took it in turns to rest every half an hour. Watching by video is even worse. “We don’t like it at all,” Miles told me. Studies confirm that the process is more exhausting and stressful, probably because body language and facial expressions provide part of the message, and are harder to decipher when working remotely. “You get fewer visual clues as to what’s going on, even with a video link,” said Miles.

Then there’s the tedium. Crisis talks in New York might be gripping, but the average politician, never mind the average technical expert on marine regulations, isn’t likely to induce rapt attention for hours on end. The audience may slumber, but the interpreter must remain vigilant. As the meeting sailed on into a polyglot fog of procedural niceties and resolutions, each with sections and subsections, I realised how tiring this vigilance must be. Having nodded off in many a science conference – even once when chairing – I was in awe of the interpreters’ fortitude.

Moser-Mercer trained as an interpreter – she is fluent in German, English and French – before being sidetracked by neuroscience. “I got very intrigued with what was going on in my brain while I was interpreting,” she says. “I thought there has to be a way to find out.” When she arrived at the University of Geneva in 1987 there wasn’t a way – the interpretation department was concerned with training, not research. So she set out to create one by collaborating with colleagues in the brain sciences.

“Language is one of the more complex human cognitive functions,” Narly Golestani, Group Leader of the university’s Brain and Language Lab, tells me during a recent visit. “There’s been a lot of work on bilingualism. Interpretation goes one step beyond that because the two languages are active simultaneously. And not just in one modality, because you have perception and production at the same time. So the brain regions involved go to an extremely high level, beyond language.”

In Geneva, as in many other neuroscience labs, the tool of choice is functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Using fMRI, researchers can watch the brain as it performs a specific task; applied to interpretation, it has already revealed the network of brain areas that make the process possible. One of these is Broca’s area, known for its role in language production and working memory, the function that allows us to maintain a grasp on what we’re thinking and doing. The area is also linked with neighbouring regions that help control language production and comprehension. “In interpretation, when a person hears something and has to translate and speak at the same time, there’s very strong functional interplay between these regions,” says Golestani.

Many other regions also seem to be involved, and there are myriad connections between them. The complexity of this network deterred Moser-Mercer from tackling them all at once; unravelling the workings of each component would have been overwhelming. Instead the Geneva researchers treat each element as a black box, and focus on understanding how the boxes are linked and coordinated. “Our research is about trying to understand the mechanisms that enable the interpreter to control these systems simultaneously,” says team member Alexis Hervais-Adelman.

Two regions in the striatum, the evolutionarily ancient core of the brain, have emerged as key to this executive management task: the caudate nucleus and the putamen. Neuroscientists already know that these structures play a role in other complex tasks, including learning and the planning and execution of movement. This means that there is no single brain centre devoted exclusively to the control of interpretation, say Hervais-Adelman and his colleagues. As with many other human behaviours studied using fMRI, it turns out that the feat is accomplished by multiple areas pitching in. And the brain areas that control the process are generalists, not specialists.

One of the triggers of this piece was a trivial conversation. Someone told me of a simultaneous interpreter so proficient that he could do a crossword while working. No name or date or place was mentioned, so I was sceptical. But just to check I contacted a few professional interpreters. One thought he might have heard a rumour; the others were dismissive. An urban myth, they said.

I ask Moser-Mercer if interpreters ever do anything else while interpreting. In a job dominated by women, she tells me, some knit – or used to when it was a more popular pastime. And you can see how a regular manual action might complement the cerebral activity of translation. But a crossword puzzle? Moser-Mercer hasn’t tried it, but she tells me that under exceptional circumstances – a familiar topic, lucid speakers, etc. – she thinks she could.

That such a feat might be possible suggests that interesting things are indeed happening in the brains of simultaneous interpreters. And there are other reasons for thinking that interpreters’ brains have been shaped by their profession. They’re good at ignoring themselves, for example. Under normal circumstances listening to your voice is essential to monitoring your speech. But interpreters have to concentrate on the word they’re translating, so they learn to pay less attention to their own voice.

This was first demonstrated 20 years ago in a simple experiment devised by Franco Fabbro and his colleagues at the University of Trieste in Italy. Fabbro asked 24 students to recite the days of the week and the months of the year in reverse order while listening to themselves through headphones. First they heard themselves with no delay. They then repeated the exercise with delayed feedback of 150, 200 and 250 milliseconds. Even a slight delay subverts speech, forcing listeners to slow down, stutter, slur and even come to a halt. Sure enough, many of the students made errors. But half of the group were in their third or fourth year at the university’s School of Translators and Interpreters, and these students suffered no significant disruption.

Some habits acquired in the workplace may carry over to the home. One way that experienced interpreters acquire speed is by learning to predict what speakers are about to say. “I will always anticipate the end of a sentence, no matter who I’m talking to and whether or not I’m wearing a headset,” says Moser-Mercer. “I will never wait for you to finish your sentence. Many of us interpreters know this from our spouses and kids. ‘You never let me finish…’ And it’s true. We’re always trying to jump in.”

Interpreters also have to be able to cope with stress and exercise self-control when working with difficult speakers. I read one review, based on questionnaires given to interpreters, which suggested that members of the profession are, as a consequence, highly strung, temperamental, touchy and prima donna-ish. Maybe. But I couldn’t see it in Marisa, Carmen or Anne.

A few years ago, the Geneva researchers asked 50 multilingual students to lie in a brain scanner and carry out a series of language exercises. In one subjects merely listened to a sentence and said nothing. Another involved the students repeating the sentence in the same language. The third was the most onerous: subjects were asked to repeat what they were hearing, this time translating it into another language.

In cognitive terms this seems like a big step up. Initially the students just had to listen, and then to repeat. Task three required them to think about meaning and how to translate it: to interpret simultaneously. But the scans didn’t reveal any neural fireworks. “There wasn’t a huge amount of additional engagement,” says Hervais-Adelman. No extra activity in regions that handle comprehension or articulation, for example. “It was just a handful of specific regions that were handling the extra load of the interpreting.” These included areas that control movement, such as the premotor cortex and the caudate. Interpretation, in other words, may be about managing specialised resources rather than adding substantially to them.

This idea remains unconfirmed, but the Geneva team added weight to it when they invited some of the same students back into the fMRI scanner a little over a year later. During that period 19 of the returnees had undergone a year of conference interpretation training, while the others had studied unrelated subjects. The brains of the trainee interpreters had changed, particularly parts of the right caudate, but not in the way you might expect – activity there lessened during the interpretation task. It is possible that the caudate had become a more efficient coordinator, or had learned how to farm out more of the task to other structures.

“It could be that as people become more experienced in simultaneous interpretation there’s less need for the kind of controlled response provided by the caudate,” says David Green, a neuroscientist at University College London who was not involved in the Geneva work. “The caudate plays a role in the control of all sorts of skilled actions. And there’s other work showing that as people get more skilled at a task you get less activation of it.”

The story that is emerging from the Geneva work – that interpretation is about coordinating more specialised brain areas – seems to gel with interpreters’ descriptions of how they work. To be really effective, for example, a simultaneous interpreter needs a repertoire of approaches. “The process has to adapt to varying circumstances,” says Moser-Mercer, who still does 40 to 50 days of interpretation a year, mainly for UN agencies. “There could be poor sound quality, or a speaker with an accent, or it might be a topic I don’t know much about. For instance, I wouldn’t interpret a fast speaker in the same way I would a slow one. It’s a different set of strategies. If there isn’t time to focus on each and every word that comes in you have to do a kind of intelligent sampling.” It may be that the flexible operation of the brain networks underpinning interpretation allows interpreters to optimise strategies for dealing with different types of speech. And different interpreters listening to the same material may use different strategies.

The results from the Geneva group also fit with a wider theme in neuroscience. When fMRI became widely available in 1990s, researchers rushed to identify the brain areas involved in almost every conceivable behaviour (including, yes, sex: several researchers have scanned the brains of subjects experiencing an orgasm). But on their own those data didn’t prove terribly useful, partly because complex behaviours don’t tend to be controlled by individual brain areas. Now the emphasis has shifted to understanding how different areas interact. Neuroscientists have learned that when we consider a potential purchase, for example, a network of areas that includes the prefrontal cortex and insula helps us decide whether the price is right. Interplay between another set of brain areas, including the entorhinal cortex and the hippocampus, helps store our memories of routes between places.

This more sophisticated understanding has been made possible in part by improvements in scanning technology. In the case of the caudate, activity there can now be distinguished from that in other parts of the basal ganglia, the larger brain area within which it is located. The finer-grained scans have revealed that the caudate is often involved in networks that regulate cognition and action, a role that puts it at the heart of an extraordinarily diverse range of behaviours. As a team of British researchers noted in a 2008 review, studies have shown that the caudate helps control everything from “a rat’s decision to press a lever to a human’s decision about how much to trust a partner in a financial exchange”.

One of the review’s authors was John Parkinson of Bangor University in Wales. I ask him if he would have predicted that the caudate would be involved in simultaneous interpretation. He says that at first he wouldn’t have. “The caudate is involved in the intentionality of an action, in its goal-directedness. Not so much in carrying it out but in why you’re doing it.” Then he thought about what interpreters do. Computers translate by rote, often with risible results. Humans have to think about meaning and intent. “The interpreter must actually try to identify what the message is and translate that,” says Parkinson. He agrees that the involvement of the caudate makes sense.

Given that the Geneva research is based partly in a department tasked with training interpreters, it’s natural to wonder if their scientific findings might eventually find a direct practical application. Moser-Mercer and her colleagues are careful to avoid extravagant claims, and rule out suggestions that brain scanners might be used to assess progress or select candidates with an aptitude for interpreting. But even if studying simultaneous interpretation doesn’t lead to immediate applications, it has already extended our knowledge of the neural pathways that link thinking with doing, and in the future it may help neuroscientists gain an even deeper understanding of the networked brain. The Geneva team wants next to explore the idea that some high-level aspects of cognition have evolved from evolutionarily older and simpler behaviours. The brain, they suggest, builds its complex cognitive repertoire upon on a lower level of what they call “essential” processes, such as movement or feeding. “This would be a very efficient way to do things,” Moser-Mercer and her colleagues tell me in an email. “It makes sense for the brain to evolve by reusing or by adapting its processors for multiple tasks, and it makes sense to wire the cognitive components of control directly into the system that will be responsible for effecting the behaviour.” Simultaneous interpreting, with its close back-and-forth relationship between cognition and action, may be an ideal test bed for such thinking.

Published in collaboration with Mosaic

Author: Geoff Watts spent five years in academic biomedical research and he’s since divided his time between writing and radio broadcasting.

Image: Saadia Zahidi is senior director, head of Gender Parity and Human Capital, at the World Economic Forum.

Via Charles Tiayon
Elena Perrouin's curator insight, December 4, 2014 4:06 AM

Interesting scientific findings revealing how interperters manage to operate sensory, motor and cognitive skills in unison. Brought up memories of my early days working as an interpreter.

Rescooped by Jose Soto from Geography Education!

Population growth far outpaces food supply in conflict-ravaged Sahel

Population growth far outpaces food supply in conflict-ravaged Sahel | Mr. Soto's Human Geography |

"The Sahel’s ability to produce food is not keeping pace with its growing population, and global warming will only exacerbate the imbalance, according to a new study.  Among the 22 countries making up the arid region in northern Africa, the population grew to 471 million in 2010 from 367 million in 2000, a jump of nearly 30%. As the population grew rapidly, the production of crops remained essentially unchanged.  Using satellite images to calculate annual crop production in the conflict-ridden Sahel belt, south of the Sahara desert, the researchers then compared output with population growth and food and fuel consumption."


Tags: Africa, Sahel, population, environment, water, ecology, environment depend, weather and climate, sustainability, agriculture, food production.

Via Seth Dixon
Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, December 13, 2015 5:59 PM

with the strife in this region it is hardly surprising that it is hard to maintain food supplies in the face of large scale immigration. in a region where it is hard to survive, immigration would be a massive threat, straining already thinly spread resources.

Raymond Dolloff's curator insight, December 15, 2015 12:22 AM

If a country has a big population growth, the resources that it has if they are already scarce may become devastating. As the population of Sahel does increase, the amount of food resources will not have the proper time to react to the growth. Granted it may take a while for agricultural crops to grow and many citizens may face hard times facing finding food, but their hardships will be overcome by farmers trying to produce more crops to help ease that hardship.

Martin Kemp's curator insight, December 17, 2015 2:38 PM

this seems like an alarmingly common problem in the world today with population growth happening at an alarming rate in many parts of the world. most notably india and china. as well as in sahel, if your population grows by 100 million in 10 years it will be impossible to keep up and be able to provide for that many people in such a reletively short time.

Rescooped by Jose Soto from Geography Education!

City of Endangered Languages

"New York has long been a city of immigrants, but linguists now consider it a laboratory for studying and preserving languages in rapid decline elsewhere in the world."

Via Seth Dixon
Alexandra Piggott's curator insight, November 4, 2014 4:30 PM

Is globalisation enabling the preservation and study of declining languages?

Courtney Barrowman's curator insight, November 5, 2014 7:59 PM

I will be showing this in class DO NOT use it for your scoop it review--


unit 3

SRA's curator insight, April 19, 2015 10:30 PM

Victoria Margo

This article really caught my eye because at a young age I was taught to speak spanish and english at the same time, and now that I am older I realize how important it is to know two languages. I will forever be grateful that my parents took the time and made my sisters and I learn something different while growing up.

Languages change over a long period of time and many times languages grow or die within time. Two main vocabulary words that I have not forgotten are Language divergence and Language convergence. Language divergence is the dividing of a language into many new languages. Language convergence is when two languages merge to become one. Both these definitions are extremely important when talking about how some languages will soon be extinct. I believe many languages have been endangered due to families and parents who do not continue speaking their language when they leave their original country/state. Language is very important to our world and society today. As stated from the short video clip, if you do not continue speaking your language then who will? I agree with that completely if you don't practice something over and over again how do you expect to get any better at it? This video was a great way to express the diffusion of languages and how families today still practice their language. This video made me think about and reflect on the video we watched in Geography class a couple weeks back because of the decline of all languages that we may not even be aware of. Many times it is hard to find older people who speak your native language but I also learned from the video we watched in class that it is possible if you are willing to try and continue something that is important to you. There are many different languages that connect to our world. 

I also liked how this article mentioned that New York is the city of immigrants, meaning New York is full of different cultures and unique language. Although this article/video does say that language has been endangered it can definitely be changed with a little knowledge of why this is happening. Geography and language tie in together quite well. I am hoping many languages can be saved for the future. 

Rescooped by Jose Soto from Geography Education!

Dozens Of Countries Take In More Immigrants Per Capita Than The U.S.

Dozens Of Countries Take In More Immigrants Per Capita Than The U.S. | Mr. Soto's Human Geography |

"If you think the United States is every immigrant's dream, reconsider. Sure, in absolute numbers, the U.S. is home to the most foreign-born people — 45.7 million in 2013. But relatively, it's upper-mid-pack as an immigrant nation. It ranks 65th worldwide in terms of percentage of population that is foreign-born, according to the U.N. report 'Trends in International Migrant Stock.'  Whether tax havens and worker-hungry Gulf states, refugee sanctuaries or diverse, thriving economies, a host of nations are more immigrant-dense than the famed American melting pot.  Immigrants make up more than a fourth (27.7 percent) of the land Down Under; two other settler nations, New Zealand and Canada, weigh in with 25.1 and 20.7 percent foreign-born, respectively. That's compared to 14.3 percent in the United States." 


Tags: migration, population, USA, Australia, Oceania.

Via Seth Dixon
Chris Costa's curator insight, November 30, 2015 3:08 PM

The son of an immigrant, I am always taken aback at the intensity of the hatred that is held by certain Americans towards foreign born individuals, as if being born in a different country is the greatest affront to all that we as Americans are supposed to hold dear to us. There is a lot of rhetoric in the current political climate concerning the rate of immigration to the US, with most conservatives unanimously declaring that there are too many foreign born peoples in the US; that our economy, ways of life, and culture are doomed to collapse under the weight of huge waves of uneducated, impoverished immigrants. While immigration is a controversial topic in this country that does deserve a portion of the attention that it receives, it was interesting to learn that immigration is so largely blown out of proportion here in the US, especially compared to other countries. 14.3% of Americans are foreign born; this number seems relatively large, until you learn that 1 in 4 New Zealanders were not born in New Zealand, and yet the immigration debate isn't anywhere near as fierce in New Zealand as it is here in the states. Perhaps we should borrow from the New Zealand model, and show a little more tolerance towards those who were born elsewhere, but call our country home. We pride ourselves on being the "melting pot" of the globe, and it's time that we actually start acting like it, instead of giving into ignorance, fear, and internal fighting.

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, December 4, 2015 9:35 AM

Immigration has become a dominate issue in the 2016 presidential campaign. For those who believe that the United States is letting in to many immigrants, I refer you to the statistics in this article. Only 14 percent of our population is foreign born. The United States ranks 65th in the world in the percentages of the population that is foreign born. We are far behind the two most prominent Oceanic nations, Australia and New Zealand. Nearly twenty eight percent of Australians are foreign born. Twenty five percent of New Zealanders are also foreign born. Those nations are actually more representative of the melting pot philosophy, than the United States is.

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, December 14, 2015 12:16 PM

the us is not the choice nation of nations. it is not the most sought nation for migrants. that means we must be doing something right or wrong.

Rescooped by Jose Soto from Geography Education!

7 of the Best Dialect Quizzes

7 of the Best Dialect Quizzes | Mr. Soto's Human Geography |
If you're feeling particularly nationalistic, or just want to see how consistently you speak like your friends and neighbors, here are all the dialect quizzes that I could find. Find out what your dialect most resembles, and, in many cases, help science at the same time!


Tags: language, culture, English.

Via Seth Dixon
Julia Kang's curator insight, November 6, 2014 8:42 PM

Enligsh dialects looks interesting! If I have a chance later, I want to know more about it :)

Courtney Barrowman's curator insight, November 12, 2014 11:07 AM

Take a few of these quizzes and be ready to share your reaction to your results!

Rescooped by Jose Soto from Geography Education!

Break Dancing, Phnom Penh-Style

"A former gang member from Long Beach, California, teaches break dancing to at-risk youths in Cambodia."

Via Seth Dixon
Norka McAlister's curator insight, April 18, 2015 3:26 PM

In this video we can appreciate how the skill of breaking dancing can be globalized from U.S. to Cambodia.  KK is a Cambodian refugee who use to live in California. Due to his participation in gangs, he was deported to Cambodia, a country he had never been in before. Since he has been exposed to violence, breaking dancing changed him for the better. Fortunately, for young kids in Cambodia, KK brings American culture and shares it with young kids so they can learn from it. Indeed, KK takes advantage of pop music and introduces it to Cambodian children in order to keep them away from drugs and teach them how to prevent HIV disease. Language is another advantage of the fusion of American culture, which make KK valuable to the local and regional young communities.

Bob Beaven's curator insight, April 26, 2015 3:38 PM

The 21st Century for countries is far different than many others that have gone by.  Globalization is changing how people think about countries and the culture of the sovereign states.  This video shows how an American Gang Banger who is of Cambodian Descent is transforming the life of Cambodian children for the better through Break Dancing and Hip Hop.  The man was exiled from the United States, but brought its culture with him.  However, he became a gang banger in the United States because he was part of an immigrant group the US helped to create by destabilizing the region during the Vietnam War.  This shows just how interconnected the world is becoming.  When he brought Hip Hop and culture from the US with him, the kids wanted to learn break dancing, so now he runs a school and encourages the students to do well and stay clear of drugs.  The paths that led to the creation and success of the school owe themselves to geographical factors.

Jared Medeiros's curator insight, April 28, 2015 5:27 PM

It apperas that one countrys trash is anothers treasure, and possiblty so much more.  You can see first hand in this video how a culture from one part of the world can have great impact on another so different and so far away.  Being deported could be the best thing that happened to this teacher.  It also could be the best thing that happened to a lot of these childrens lives as well.

Rescooped by Jose Soto from Geography Education!

Feeding the Whole World

"Louise Fresco argues that a smart approach to large-scale, industrial farming and food production will feed our planet's incoming population of nine billion. Only foods like (the scorned) supermarket white bread, she says, will nourish on a global scale."

Via Seth Dixon
dilaycock's curator insight, October 19, 2014 6:45 PM

Fresco argues that we tend to see "home-made" agriculture as a thing of beauty, whereas the reality is that many small scale farmers struggle and live a subsistence lifestyle. The adoration of small-scale farming, notes Fresco, is a luxury to those who can afford it. Large-scale production has increased the availability and affordability of food. Food production should be given as high a priority as climate change and sustainability, and we should seriously consider ways in which land can be used as a multi-purpose space that includes agriculture.

Stephen Zimmett's curator insight, October 24, 2014 10:55 AM

Louise Fresco speaks of local food production and small scale control

and the entire food nework

BrianCaldwell7's curator insight, March 16, 2016 3:43 PM

Many advocates of local foods favor a small-scale approach to farming and are opposed to large-scale agribusiness. It might be easy for those disconnected from the food production system (like me) to romanticize and mythologize the farmers of yesteryear and yearn to return to this past.  This talk highlights how essential large-scale farming is absolutely critical to feeding the global population; this other TED talk discusses many of the hunger problems especially the uneven access to food.  Here are some other pro-agribusiness resources.   


Tags: agriculture, food production, food distribution, agribusiness, TED

Rescooped by Jose Soto from FCHS AP HUMAN GEOGRAPHY!

Population Density

This talks about what population density is and why people live where they do.-- Created using PowToon -- Free sign up at . Make your...

Via Dean Haakenson, FCHSAPGEO
Jeremy Hansen's curator insight, October 21, 2014 10:46 AM

Excellent short video defining and explaining population density. 

Catherine Pearce's curator insight, October 23, 2014 6:35 PM

A nice straight forward presentation

Bradley Hunkins's curator insight, October 28, 2014 2:55 PM

Why do people live in the locations they do and how can we impact our enviroment

Scooped by Jose Soto!

For the Amish, Crime but Seldom Punishment

For the Amish, Crime but Seldom Punishment | Mr. Soto's Human Geography |
When it comes to crime and punishment, the Amish live by a different set of rules -- God's rules, to be exact.
Abiding strictly by a moral code that values religion over all else and stresses forgiveness over anger, the Amish concept of justice looks very different from what most Americans...
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Rescooped by Jose Soto from Archaeology News!

35 ancient pyramids discovered in Sudan necropolis

35 ancient pyramids discovered in Sudan necropolis | Mr. Soto's Human Geography |

At least 35 small pyramids, along with graves, have been discovered clustered closely together at a site called Sedeinga in Sudan.


Discovered between 2009 and 2012, researchers are surprised at how densely the pyramids are concentrated.


They date back to a time when a kingdom named Kush flourished in Sudan. Kush shared a border with Egypt and, later on, the Roman Empire. The desire of the kingdom's people to build pyramids was apparently influenced by Egyptian funerary architecture.


Because it lasted for hundreds of years they built more, more, more pyramids and after centuries they started to fill all the spaces that were still available in the necropolis." [See Photos of the Newly Discovered Pyramids]

Via David Connolly
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