Mastering multiple languages is an increasingly important ability in the modern world; furthermore, multilingualism may affect human learning abilities. Here, we test how the brain’s capacity to rapidly form new representations for spoken words is affected by prior individual experience in non-native language acquisition. Formation of new word memory traces is reflected in a neurophysiological response increase during a short exposure to novel lexicon. Therefore, we recorded changes in electrophysiological responses to phonologically native and non-native novel word-forms during a perceptual learning session, in which novel stimuli were repetitively presented to healthy adults in either ignore or attend conditions. We found that larger number of previously acquired languages and earlier average age of acquisition (AoA) predicted greater response increase to novel non-native word-forms. This suggests that early and extensive language experience is associated with greater neural flexibility for acquiring novel words with unfamiliar phonology. Conversely, later AoA was associated with a stronger response increase for phonologically native novel word-forms, indicating better tuning of neural linguistic circuits to native phonology. The results suggest that individual language experience has a strong effect on the neural mechanisms of word learning, and that it interacts with the phonological familiarity of the novel lexicon.
Bacterial cell wall is targeted by many antibiotics. Among them are lantibiotics, which realize their function via interaction with transmembrane lipid-II molecule — a chemically conserved part of the cell wall synthesis pathway. To investigate structural and dynamic properties of this molecule, we have performed a series of nearly microsecond-long molecular dynamics simulations (MD) of lipid-II and some of its analogs in zwitterionic single component and charged mixed model phospholipid bilayers (the reference and mimic of the bacterial plasmatic membrane, respectively). Extensive analysis revealed that lipid-II forms a unique “amphiphilic pattern” exclusively on the surface of the model bacterial membrane (and not in the reference bilayer). We hypothesize that conserved features of lipid-II along with characteristic modulation of the bacterial membrane provide a recognition spot for many lantibiotics. This putative recognition mechanism opens new opportunities for studies on lantibiotics action and design of novel armament against resistant bacterial strains.
Archaeal plasma membranes appear to be extremely durable and almost impermeable to water and ions, in contrast to the membranes of Bacteria and Eucaryota. Additionally, they remain liquid within a temperature range of 0–100° С. These are the properties that have most likely determined the evolutionary fate of Archaea, and it may be possible for bionanotechnology to adopt these from nature. In this work, we use molecular dynamics simulations to assess at the atomic level the structure and dynamics of a series of model archaeal membranes with lipids that have tetraether chemical nature and “branched” hydrophobic tails. We conclude that the branched structure defines dense packing and low water permeability of archaeal-like membranes, while at the same time ensuring a liquid-crystalline state, which is vital for living cells. This makes tetraether lipid systems promising in bionanotechnology and material science, namely for design of new and unique membrane nanoobjects.