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Local News Summary of August, 9th

  • Kunsthalle: Kunstkredit exhibition in Basel-Stadt
  • Initiative submitted for subject revaluation at Baselland schools
  • How emotions strengthen the memory


Kunsthalle: Kunstkredit exhibition in Basel-Stadt

The dates of this year‘s Kunstkredit Basel-Stadt exhibition have been announced, with the event being held between 27th August and 10th September. Julia Moritz and Stefan Burger are the curators involved. The works of artists who have been awarded with work-related contributions by the Kunstkredit Commission will be presented.

The exhibition displays the works of five of the commissions promising artists over the last year. The artists supported by the commission are: Louise Guerra, Judith Kakon, Garrett Nelson, Gina Folly, Dorota Gawęda und Eglė Kulbokaitė, Marian Mayland, Johannes Willi. Decisive for the assessment and support in terms of a work grant are the artistic quality as well as the relevance of the support in the development of the artists‘ creativity.

The exhibition, to be held in the Kunsthalle in Basel, gives the public an insight into the artistic creativity in Basel-Stadt. The exhibition, created by curators Ms Moritz and Mr Burger, displays the spectrum of contemporary art: from installations and performance work, painting, video art, and photography. A publication, containing text from Ms Moritz and advertisements for the artists involved in the exhibition, will accompany the event.

End of year review of Kunstkredit Basel-Stadt

The end of year review 2016/2017 will be released at the preview of the Kunstkredit Basel Stadt. The illustrated brochure documents the funding decisions made by the Kunstkredit commission in 2016 as well as giving illustrations of all new acquisitions. It furthermore documents the support of Kunstkredit in collaboration with the Building and Traffic Department of Basel-Stadt for the realised art projects on public buildings and urban areas over the past year. An article by Irene Müller draws on a discussion with Katrin Grögel (head of Kunstkredit), Isabel Fluri (curator of Kunstkredit) und Andreas Karcher, head of the specialist art unit at Helvetia Insurance, about their collections, profile and orientations, acquisitions policy, visibility, and procurements.

Initiative submitted for subject revaluation at Baselland schools

The members of the “strong school for both Basels” committee submitted their “Yes to an educationally meaningful timetable” initiative yesterday.

The committee said the initiative, which received 2,823 signatures, was handed over to the land office chancellery of the canton Baselland. In order for the initiative to be successful, it had to receive a minimum of 1,500 signatures. The formulated initiative calls for a change to the educational laws. The committee wants students to have a minimum of two lessons per week in the following subjects: history, geography, biology, chemistry, and physics, provided that they can be incorporated into the student timetable.

The initiative was directed against a decision by the Baselland education authority council at the end of May stating that from the school year 2018/2019 onwards, there would be 1.5 lessons in geography and history and one hour each would be given for biology, chemistry, and physics. This was met by broad criticism.

Criticism also from cantonal parliament

The educational council had justified its decision based on governmental proposals, in which 42 teaching periods are earmarked per class – two fewer than the 40 hours currently given. At the same time, the board followed the results of a popular vote held in summer 2016 when history, geography, physics, biology, chemistry and home economics should be taught and marked as singular subjects.

After criticism and submitted initiatives, it was announced in the cantonal Parliament at the end of June that a debate will be held between the Education Council and the district Education, Culture, and Sport Commission. According to the Baselland Education, Culture, and Sport Management Department, this debate is expected to be held at the end of August. By all accounts, the commission wants to create public pressure through the initiative. According to the education council, the teaching load of 42 lessons means that pupils receive between 33 and 34 mandatory and optional subject lessons. The rest of the lesson time allows for divisional and practical lessons. Teachers therefore receive relief lessons.

How emotions strengthen the memory

Emotional experiences remain especially long and detailed in the memory. Researchers at the University of Basel, working together with colleagues in the Netherlands and the USA, describe a mechanism which is responsible for this phenomenon. The results of their study are published in the current edition of the science magazine, PNAS.

Meaningless experiences, which happened as far back as months or years ago, are either forgotten or survive only as faint false memories. Emotional experiences, such as a wedding, an exam or an accident, are a different matter. Such experiences entrench themselves deep into the memory and are vividly and accurately remembered, even after a long period of time. The mechanism, which is responsible for the longevity and richness of detail in emotional memories, has remained until now unknown.

A research team at the University of Basel, the Radboud University in the Netherlands, and the University of California, Irvine, have now discovered that the messenger substance noradrenaline plays a crucial role in which memories are dumped from the brain. They proved this through experiments on rats. When the concentration of noradrenaline in the brain during memory storage was high, the animals remembered the experience stronger and more exact four weeks later than when the level of the message substance was low.

Hippocampus is also relevant for remote memories

In addition, the experiments showed that such memories are also dependent on the Hippocampus. The Hippocampus is a structure in the brain which is indispensable for the storing and remembering of detailed information. Through earlier studies it was discovered that with time, memories show increasing independence from the Hippocampus and were only saved in the cerebral cortex. Through this process the memories also certainly lose their richness in detail.

The published study determines that, with emotional memories, the accompaniment of noradrenaline leads to a longer involvement of the Hippocampus and therefore to stronger and more detailed memories.

Eventually Dr Vanja Vukojevic could, from the trans-faculty research platform of Molecular and Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Basel and within the framework of this study, demonstrate that the noradrenaline effects were associated with epigenetic changes in memory related genes in the Hippocampus. The researchers hope that more exact knowledge of this molecular process can lead to the development of new neuro-enhancement substances.