Tremor: A Biography of Parkinson’s Disease

With Professor Dorothy Porter

Tuesday 16 May 2017

5.30-7.30pm at Liverpool Medical Institution & Conference Centre, 114 Mount Pleasant, Liverpool, L3 5SR

This year’s Frances Ivens annual lecture explores how and why transformations have taken place in the material, cultural and experiential history of Parkinson’s Disease from the time of its first description by James Parkinson as The Shaking Palsy in 1817.

This talk will also focus on the experiences of patients, and examines a range of creatively expressive patients, including Wilhelm von Humboldt, Mervyn Peake, John Betjeman and contemporary artists such as Johanne Vermette.

If you wish to attend the two-course dinner after the lecture, please book via the LMI Admin (£20 per person)

Visit for more information and to register your place.

European Literature in Translation: The first 25 years

European Literature in Translation: The first 25 years

By Margaret Farnworth, Continuing Education student

On a warm October morning in 1993 a group of eighteen or twenty of us crammed into a stuffy room in the Modern Languages building for the first session of a twenty-week course in “European Literature in Translation”. No one could possibly have realised that this was the start of a course which would still be running in 2017 and about to enter its twenty-fifth season.
Over the years we have been taught by five tutors, and have diversified from French literature to European Literature generally. Students have come and gone with many attending for a decade or more, and the enthusiasm and commitment of tutors and students alike remain undiminished. We have tackled works originally written in many languages, ranging from French and Italian to Russian and Scandinavian and have studied novels, plays, short stories and memoirs.

What’s the attraction of this course? Why do people sign up and in many cases stick with it for years? What do they get out of it?

Although many of those who attend are retired, and already have degrees and professional qualifications, some still find writing essays for assessment a welcome challenge. Others prefer to forego that pleasure, but will happily volunteer to prepare talks and presentations on topics of particular interest. Some enrol to follow up an interest in literature dating back to school days but side-lined through their working lives. Others are retired teachers or academics specialising in English or in modern languages who are looking to extend their existing knowledge. People who have never read outside English and American literature welcome the chance to explore a wider range of texts. Some enrol through personal recommendation from friends. As one member wrote – There is no better way of exploring ideas, thought and life than through literature.

The class provides what one student describes as a warm, welcoming, fun and stimulating environment in which to read and discuss texts. It’s important that we are led by a qualified tutor to direct our study, so that we are most definitely not a book group. But group discussion is a big part of the class, although no one is forced to contribute and if you just want to listen that’s fine. Cross-fertilisation of ideas is important, and people benefit from insights they would not necessarily have discovered for themselves. Because most members have decades of life experience, they bring a fascinating array of knowledge to the discussion. Over the years, historians, artists, actors, academics and others have shared their expertise – and for several years a retired GP provided wonderful insights into the ailments of the characters we read about. We have always placed a strong emphasis on studying the works we study in their historical, social and political context, and where possible we look at clips of stage and film versions. As one member commented – Every week I leave the class feeling stimulated.

Over time we have become more than just an adult education class. Theatre and film trips take place if there’s a local performance of a text we’re studying. Weekly coffee breaks and end-of-term lunches provide a chance to chat. Friendships have developed and people meet informally out of class. Last year we had an innovation – an informal, twice-monthly reading group in a local cafe, intended to keep us in touch over the long summer break. We hope this will become a regular feature.
In October we plan to mark the anniversary of the Russian Revolution by reading some works from the Soviet period; I can promise anyone who decides to join us a lively, stimulating and enjoyable course.

And finally – a big thank you to the staff of Continuing Education who made all this happen.
European Literature will return for its 25th year this Autumn – if you would like to enrol email us at and we will send you the details when they are ready.

Online – Stonehenge

Introduction to the Stonehenge online course by Dr John Hill. 

Stonehenge is, no doubt, one of our most important prehistoric sites in the United Kingdom. It is also one of the most complex of monuments to understand. Even today, we still find new archaeological data that demands us to continuously challenge our opinions about this difficult but incredible site.

The University of Liverpool’s accredited Stonehenge online course will give you a great introduction to this fascinating site and an appreciation of what we currently know about it. Over the next several weeks we will cover a number of themes related to what we know about Stonehenge and the following is just a highlight of some (but not all) of these themes.

Week one – Setting the scene – from the Ice Age to the Early Bronze Age

In this part of the course, you will receive a brief overview of the chronological development of British Prehistory i.e. starting at the end of the last Ice Age and ending with the coming of the Early Bronze Age (c.10,000 – 1800 BC). Certainly, this will help you to put Stonehenge into its proper historical chronological context in reference to the rest of British Prehistory.

Another theme we followed during the creation of this online course was to give you a sense of visiting Stonehenge and seeing the key architectural features of the site. This first week will offer you an online ‘Virtual Tour’ of Stonehenge giving you a foundational knowledge to build upon during the weeks that follow.

Week two – The meaning of Stonehenge

There are many theories about what Stonehenge means. Some are incredibly far flung that don’t involve much evidence whilst others emerge from a body of data built up by rigorous research and academic scrutiny. In this part of the online course we will look at some of those credible theories that will help you to understand more about this fascinating site.

Week three – How and when was Stonehenge built?

Construction techniques are often a popular topic to mention when talking about Stonehenge. Indeed, this particular topic forms the thrust of my own research. In this part of the course we will look at some of the construction techniques used as Stonehenge and I will share with you some of my own ideas about how the builders could have accomplished such magnificent engineering.

Week four – Who lived at Stonehenge?

Who lived at Stonehenge is the culminating topic for this course. Although nobody actually lived at Stonehenge, much funerary activity has taken place both inside the monument and within its surrounding landscape. These burials can tell us a lot of information about the people who lived during the times when Stonehenge was most active and we will consider, perhaps, three of the most important burials found at the site.


Additionally, within this module, we will look at the importance of excavation and in a short video accompanying this theme I will explain just how much of the Stonehenge site has been excavated. This topic is important as it formulates the 1000 word essay assignment required for the course’s accreditation: “Stonehenge, to excavate or not to excavate – that is the question?”

I personally believe that we should excavate more, but I won’t give my opinions just now. Rather we can discuss not only my reasons but also your ideas using our open-forum discussion board. The discussion board will also allow you to share your ideas with your fellow students. Incidentally, our online course software also offers many other inter-active features for you to take advantage of, such as access to the University of Liverpool’s Electronic library.

Both I and the online support team will also be available online to offer help and guidance through the duration of the course and (hopefully?) answer any questions you may wish to ask.

I look forward to leading you through this exciting course.

Best wishes

Dr John Hill

To enrol on this course please click here


Dr Tim O’Dempsey, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Dr O’Dempsey at Kenema Ebola Treatment Centre, Sierra Leone, July 2014

Wednesday 8 February, 5.30pm

The recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa exploited weak health systems and, as the epidemic spread, effectively paralysed the delivery of health services in the affected regions. Unprecedented in scale and impact, by the time the epidemic was declared over on 29th December 2015, more than 28,600 suspected, probable or confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), including 11,300 deaths, had been reported. The speaker will discuss the evolution of the epidemic and the role of local, national and international stakeholders, with particular reference to the epidemic in Sierra Leone.

Dr Tim O’Dempsey is Senior Clinical Lecturer in Tropical Medicine and Director of Studies for the DTM&H and Humanitarian Programmes at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. Between July 2014 and December 2015, he was seconded from LSTM to assist in the Ebola epidemic response in Sierra Leone. He provided clinical care for patients with Ebola Virus Disease, advised the Government of Sierra Leone, DFID and various international NGOs and Foreign Medical Teams involved in the response and became the WHO Clinical Lead for the Ebola response in Sierra Leone.

Refreshments from 5.00 pm, talks begin at 5.30 pm, at the Liverpool Medical Institution (LMI), 114 Mount Pleasant, L3 5SR. Why not continue the discussions over an informal supper, including wine, £13.50 (students £8).

Places must be pre-booked, via


The 6th Annual Archaeology and the Bible Conference

The 6th Annual Archaeology and the Bible Conference,

Saturday 25th March, 2017

Archaeology and the Bible’s first five books

The Lecture Theatre, Department of Continuing Education, 126 Mount Pleasant, L69 3GR

The Bible’s first five books, sometimes called the Torah or Pentateuch, tell the story of Israel’s origins and its place in the wider Ancient World. But can this story be illuminated, even authenticated by the archaeological evidence?

10.00 – 10.30 Dr. Paul Lawrence (University of Liverpool): In the beginning … in a coffin in Egypt – some observations about the structure of the Book of Genesis

In the beginning …”, so begins the Bible’s first book. It is an apt title for a book that outlines the Hebrew worldview of the origins of the universe, mankind, sin and death, the nations and the nation of Israel. Does the book of Genesis have a clearly evident structure and does this give clues to the book’s composition or compilation? What evidence is there for it accurately representing events of the early Second Millennium BC?

10.30 – 11.00 Dr. James Patrick (University of Oxford): Interpreting the Creation Week in its Ancient Context

The creation of the world over a seven-day period in Genesis 1:1–2:4 has been interpreted in many different ways, particularly since the time of Darwin.  But how was this precise timing interpreted by its first hearers?  This lecture will consider evidence from ancient Israelite culture and the wider ancient Near Eastern context, in order to come closer to the original intention of this passage and its theological message.

11.00-11.30 break

11.30-12.30 Dr. James Hoffmeier (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School):Moses and Akhenaten

Akhenaten (1353-1336 B.C.) is thought by many scholars to be the first monotheist in history.  Moses is believed to have lived in the following century, which naturally has raised the question, did Akhenaten’s religious revolution surrounding the solar deity, Aten, have any influence on the development of Israel’s religion? This lecture will examine the evidence for Akhenaten’s religion and its unique elements, followed by the an investigation of the possible connection between Moses and Akhenaten.

12.30-13.30 lunch

13.30-14.30  Dr. James Hoffmeier: Israel’s Earliest Sanctuary, Priestly Garments and Bejewelled Breastplate in the Book of Exodus in the Light of Archaeological Data

One of the most compelling arguments for the historicity of the Hebrew sojourn in Egypt is the imprint that Egyptian language, culture, and religion left on early Israel. This lecture will examine some this evidence as it relates to Israelite religion that demonstrates strong Egyptian connections that most likely can be traced to the centuries the Hebrews lived in Egypt before the exodus.

14.30-15.00 break

15.00 -15.30 Alistair Dickey (Ph.D candidate University of Liverpool): Semites in Ancient Egypt “So Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt, taking with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan.”

This account in Genesis 46 describes Jacob and his family moving house to Egypt.  However, is such an account plausible?  What do we know of Semites in Egypt during the Second Millennium BC?  This presentation will explore some of the archaeological and textual evidence from the Delta in the north to Thebes in the south that sheds light on the situation.

15.30-16.15 Emeritus Professor Alan Millard (University of Liverpool): Babylonian and Hebrew Law 

Similarities and differencesGod gave the ‘Laws of Moses’ to Israel at Mount Sinai, according to the Book of Exodus, with the Ten Commandments, at least, written on stone tablets. Israel’s laws are not unique. Babylonian laws have been discovered and some of them are very similar to some of the Mosaic laws, but there are also major differences. The lecture will compare those, showing how the Hebrew laws are distinctive.

16.15-16.30 Questions to the speakers and closing remarks

Advance registration £27 includes a sandwich lunch. If you would like to book on this event you can do so by clicking here 

Tate Liverpool courses with the WEA

Tate Liverpool in collaboration with the Workers’ Educational Association will be hosting the following courses at the gallery starting in January 2017.

Course: Introduction to Printmaking, led by Colette Whittington
Dates: Friday 13 January – 24 February 2017, (10:00-13:00)
Venue: Clore Learning Centre, Tate Liverpool
Admission: £65.10 (free to eligible students in receipt of certain benefits, see WEA website for more information), advanced booking essential.

Against the backdrop of Tate Liverpool’s Collection Displays this 7 week course will introduce the basic techniques of printmaking: focusing on how the process of print media can inform the strategy of art making.
Through a series of practical workshops and group discussions led by printmaker and artist educator Colette Whittington, the course will respond to the Tate collection with hands on printmaking techniques that can be reproduced at the kitchen table at home.
Participants will be introduced to basic intaglio and relief printmaking processes; monoprint, collatype, and lino cutting. They will be guided to produce their own individual design ideas using experimental methods and demonstrating good print practice.
(No previous experience necessary).

Programmed in association with the Workers’ Educational Association.

For further information and to book a place follow the link to:

Course: Improvers Printmaking, led by Colette Whittington
Dates: Friday 13 January – 24 February 2017, (14:00- 16:00)
Venue: Clore Learning Centre, Tate Liverpool
Admission: £43.40, (Free to eligible students in receipt of certain benefits, see WEA website for more information). Advanced booking essential.

This 7-week course aims to use the exhibition as a starting point to stimulate critical engagement and creative processes involved in printmaking production.
Responding to Tate’s collection displays, the course will enable participants to fully develop and realise their design ideas, applying the relief printmaking knowledge they have previously gained on the beginners course or elsewhere. The aim of the course is to enable the participants to fully develop their own design ideas, to produce a personal body of work. Perhaps mixing relief printmaking processes or by becoming more proficient in one technique.
Sessions will comprise of practical workshops, group discussions and feedback facilitated by local printmaker and artist educator Colette Whittington.
(Some prior experience of printmaking necessary. Progression from WEA Beginners Course advisable, but not compulsory if some prior printing experience).

Programmed in association with the Workers’ Educational Association.

For further information and to book a place follow the link to:

Course: Painting Inspired by Women Artists, led by Maria Tavares
Date: Tuesday 17 January – 28 March 2017, (10:00-12:00)
Venue: Tate Liverpool
Admission: £65.10 (or free to eligible students in receipt of certain benefits, see the WEA website for more information). Advanced booking essential.

Discover and explore women artists and create your own masterpiece inspired by their work. Explore painting techniques, including texture, light and shade, colour, composition, and perspective. Women artists have been marginalised and misrepresented throughout history. This has often been due to socio-political mores of the given era. Through practical workshops and group discussion, students will examine the issues that lie behind this marginalization.

Led by Maria Tavares, artist and art tutor, this 10 week course will explore the history of women in art. Through a series of practical hands-on exercises, students will learn painting techniques using acrylics, as well as having the opportunity to study Tate’s collection of work by women artists.

Programmed in association with the Workers’ Educational Association

For further information and to book a place follow the link to:

Course: Exploring Modern Sculpture, led by Ed Bruce
Date: Tuesday 17 January – 28 March 2017, (14:30-16:30)
Venue: Tate Liverpool
Admission: £65.10, (Free to eligible students in receipt of certain benefits, see WEA website for more information). Advanced booking essential.

Duchamp’s conceptual ideas about the ‘Readymade’ profoundly influenced the sculpture of the 1960s and 1970s. This course, taught by Ed Bruce, will explore the ‘expanding field’ of sculptural practice in the period when ‘body art’ performance, and site specific work transformed the idea of the ‘sculptural object’.

Programmed in association with the Workers’ Educational Association

For further information and to book a place follow the link to:

Elena Palumbo-Mosca In-conversation

Organised by Tate Liverpool. 

Talk: Elena Palumbo-Mosca In-conversation

Date: Saturday 26 November, (14:00-15:00)

Venue: Auditorium, Tate Liverpool

Admission: £5,

(Advanced booking essential)

Join Elena Palumbo-Mosca in-conversation at Tate Liverpool, as she reflects on her time as Klein’s model, in particular, her involvement in Klein’s experiments with the expressive potential of the body as manifested in his Anthropometries. These paintings, created by the artist choreographed nude models as living paint brushes to transfer blue pigment onto canvas, whilst accompanied by a live orchestra playing his ‘monotone symphony’.

To book and for more information, please follow the link: or call the box office on 0151 702 7400

Why the baby brain can learn two languages at the same time




Originally published as on The Conversation. For article and more click here

Any adult who has attempted to learn a foreign language can attest to how difficult and confusing it can be. So when a three-year-old growing up in a bilingual household inserts Spanish words into his English sentences, conventional wisdom assumes that he is confusing the two languages.

Research shows that this is not the case.

In fact, early childhood is the best possible time to learn a second language. Children who experience two languages from birth typically become native speakers of both, while adults often struggle with second language learning and rarely attain native-like fluency.

But the question remains: is it confusing for babies to learn two languages simultaneously?

When do babies learn language?

Research shows babies begin to learn language sounds before they’re even born. In the womb, a mother’s voice is one of the most prominent sounds an unborn baby hears. By the time they’re born, newborns can not only tell the difference between their mother’s language and another language, but also show a capability of distinguishing between languages.

Language learning depends on the processing of sounds. All the world’s languages put together comprise about 800 or so sounds. Each language uses only about 40 language sounds, or “phonemes,” which distinguish one language from another.

At birth, the baby brain has an unusual gift: it can tell the difference between all 800 sounds. This means that at this stage infants can learn any language that they’re exposed to. Gradually babies figure out which sounds they are hearing the most.

Babies learn to recognize their mother’s voice even before they are born. John Mayer, CC BY

Between six and 12 months, infants who grow up in monolingual households become more specialized in the subset of sounds in their native language. In other words, they become “native language specialists.” And, by their first birthdays, monolingual infants begin to lose their ability to hear the differences between foreign language sounds.

Studying baby brains

What about those babies who hear two languages from birth? Can a baby brain specialize in two languages? If so, how is this process different then specializing in a single language?

Knowing how the baby brain learns one versus two languages is important for understanding the developmental milestones in learning to speak. For example, parents of bilingual children often wonder what is and isn’t typical or expected, or how their child will differ from those children who are learning a single language.

My collaborators and I recently studied the brain processing of language sounds in 11-month-old babies from monolingual (English only) and bilingual (Spanish-English) homes. We used a completely noninvasive technology called magnetoencephalography (MEG), which precisely pinpointed the timing and the location of activity in the brain as the babies listened to Spanish and English syllables.

We found some key differences between infants raised in monolingual versus bilingual homes.

At 11 months of age, just before most babies begin to say their first words, the brain recordings revealed that:

  • Babies from monolingual English households are specialized to process the sounds of English, and not the sounds of Spanish, an unfamiliar language
  • Babies from bilingual Spanish-English households are specialized to process the sounds of both languages, Spanish and English.
Here’s a video summarizing our study.

Our findings show that babies’ brains become tuned to whatever language or languages they hear from their caregivers. A monolingual brain becomes tuned to the sounds of one language, and a bilingual brain becomes tuned to the sounds of two languages. By 11 months of age, the activity in the baby brain reflects the language or languages that they have been exposed to.

Is it OK to learn two languages?

This has important implications. Parents of monolingual and bilingual children alike are eager for their little ones to utter the first words. It’s an exciting time to learn more about what the baby is thinking. However, a common concern, especially for bilingual parents, is that their child is not learning fast enough.

We found that the bilingual babies showed an equally strong brain response to English sounds as the monolingual babies. This suggests that bilingual babies were learning English at the same rate as the monolingual babies.

Parents of bilingual children also worry that their children will not know as many words as children who are raised with one language.

Bilingualism does not cause confusion. jakeliefer, CC BY

To some extent, this concern is valid. Bilingual infants split their time between two languages, and thus, on average, hear fewer words in each. However, studies consistently show that bilingual children do not lag behind when both languages are considered.

Vocabulary sizes of bilingual children, when combined across both languages, have been found to be equal to or greater than those of monolingual children.

Another common concern is that bilingualism causes confusion. Part of this concern arises due to “code switching,” a speaking behavior in which bilinguals combine both languages.

For example, my four-year-old son, who speaks English, Spanish, and Slovene, goes as far as using the Slovene endings on Spanish and English words. Research shows bilingual children code-switch because bilingual adults around them do too. Code-switching in bilingual adults and children is rule-governed, not haphazard.

Unlike monolingual children, bilingual children have another language from which they can easily borrow if they can’t quickly retrieve the appropriate word in one language. Even two-year-olds modulate their language to match the language used by their interlocutor.

Researchers have shown code switching to be part of a bilingual child’s normal language development. And it could even be the beginning of what gives them the extra cognitive prowess known as the “bilingual advantage.”

Bilingual kids are at an advantage

The good news is young children all around the world can and do acquire two languages simultaneously. In fact, in many parts of the world, being bilingual is the norm rather than an exception.

It is now understood that the constant need to shift attention between languages leads to several cognitive advantages. Research has found that bilingual adults and children show an improved executive functioning of the brain – that is, they are able to shift attention, switch between tasks and solve problems more easily. Bilinguals have also been found to have increased metalinguistic skills (the ability to think about language per se, and understand how it works). There is evidence that being bilingual makes the learning of a third language easier. Further, the accumulating effect of dual language experience is thought to translate into protective effects against cognitive decline with aging and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

So, if you want your child to know more than one language, it’s best to start at an early age, before she even starts speaking her first language. It won’t confuse your child, and it could even give her a boost in other forms of cognition.

Amy Bidgood is presenting How Do Children Learn Language this Saturday 19 November. If you would like to read about her course and enroll click here 

Disclosure statement

The research described here was supported by the National Science Foundation Science of Learning Center Program grant to the UW LIFE Center (P.K.K., PI: Grant No. SMA-0835854), the Ready Mind Project at the UW Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, and the Washington State Life Science Discovery Fund (LSDF).

Talents Tips: How to split the worksheet in Windows Excel 2013

Although zooming on the worksheet can help with an overall view of your data in Excel 2013, it can’t split the worksheet into two separate windows so that you can compare their data on the screen. So to split the Worksheet area into separate panes and then scroll the worksheet in each pane so that they display the parts you want to inspect.
Splitting the window
To split a worksheet into two (upper and lower) horizontal panes, you simply position the cell pointer at the cell in the worksheet where you want to split the worksheet and then click the Split button on the Ribbon’s View tab or use the short cut Alt +WS.


When the worksheet window is split, Excel displays a split bar (a thin, light grey bar) along the row or column where the window split is actioned.

You can increase or decrease the size of the current window panes by using the mouse to drag the split bar up or down or left or right. You can make the panes in a workbook window disappear by double-clicking anywhere on the split bar (you can also do this by selecting View and Split again or use the short cut key Alt +WS)

Peter is running two Continuing Education courses Beginners Guide to Intermediate Database Use and a Beginners Guide to intermediate level spreedsheet use both starting in November. To book on either of these courses click here