Joining Estonian and Norwegian research expertise
“With our project we are going to a new level of understanding how the brain makes sense of speech,” says professor Kenneth Hugdahl.
This understanding can help in finding treatment to neurological conditions.
Hugdahl, professor in biological psychology at the University of Bergen (Norway), participates in one of 13 research projects that will receive support from the Research programme in Estonia, funded by the Norway Grants.
The University of Tartu (Estonia) and the University of Bergen (Norway) are partners in this research project. The project explores the fundamental mechanisms that enable our brains to process auditory sounds.
“This can have important consequences for the understanding of second language learning and for treating auditory hallucinations,” explains Hugdahl.
Exploring speech processing
A central objective of the research is to unravel how different brain mechanisms of speech processing are determined by certain characteristics of the language. Risto Näätänen, principal investigator from the University of Tartu, highlights the impacts of specific differences in the Estonian and Norwegian language, but also more general brain mechanisms:
“An increased understanding of the auditory processing of speech can help us to find treatments to different neurological conditions,” he says.
Wide-ranging research initiatives
All research projects are partnerships between Estonian and Norwegian universities. Hugdahl is upbeat about the mutual benefit of bilateral cooperation:
“By joining the expertise and competence from two laboratories in Estonia and Norway, we aim to achieve important new discoveries in this fascinating research area," he says.
As many as 170 applications were submitted to the Estonian Research Council when the calls for proposals were open in January, 2013. In September, 13 research projects were in chosen and high academic standards are common for all of them.
The 13 research projects spring out from different academic disciplines and research focus:
Tallinn University of Technology and the University of Bergen cooperate on a research project to better understand how the nervous system works.
The University of Tartu and the University of Bergen cooperate on a research project to improve digital communication.
The University of Tallinn and the University of Bergen work together on a research project to understand the political and social factors for migration. While the project focuses on the adaptation of Russian migrants in Estonia and Norway, it also includes a broader comparative perspective that seeks to understand the determinants of the inclusive integration context in other countries.”
The University of Tartu and the University of Tromsø are developing Sami-Estonian language technology.
The University of Tartu and the University of Oslo/University Centre in Svalbard are involved in a research project focusing on biodiversity by analysing artic fungal environments.
The University of Tartu and University of Ås cooperate on a research project focusing on biomass as a potential source of renewable energy.
The University of Tartu and Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute work together on a research project on alien invasive forest pathogens.
The University of Tartu and the University of Oslo cooperate on a research project on consumer credit in Estonia and Norway.
The University of Tartu and the University of Stavanger work together on a research project on cultural mediation and semiotic analysis of animals in changing environments.
Tallinn University of Technology and the University of Bergen are partners in a research project on particulate channel flows.
Tallinn University of Technology and the University of Oslo/ Hedmark University College work together on a research project focusing on the financial bureaucracy in the Northern countries and in the Baltics.
The University of Tartu and the University of Bergen are conducting research together on Glioblastoma, which is the most common primary brain tumour among adults.
All project received funding between €120 000 and €300 000. The total allocation to the Estonian Research cooperation programme is €3 million. The projects are planned to be implemented by February 2017.