Satisfaction with work environment, physiotherapy for Parkinson’s patients, language chunking, and mitigating drought stress in plants

The research news section gives regular hints about interesting studies in various fields of research.


To work at home or in the office?   

During the coronavirus pandemic, office workers have had to work from home for a shorter or longer period. How has it affected their well-being, information flow and relationships between employees? A study by University of Tartu economists reveals that in normal circumstances, people working in open-plan offices are the least satisfied. Thus, the opportunity to work from home increased their well-being and improved the information flow and relationships between employees. In activity-based offices that include both open and private areas, however, employees were very satisfied in normal circumstances, and the pandemic deteriorated their work-related well-being and communication. 


Read more in the article.  

Further information: Anne Aidla, Lecturer in Management, 

Eneli Kindsiko, Associate Professor in Qualitative Research, 

Helen Poltimäe, Lecturer in Economic Modelling,


Physiotherapy reduces difficulties in activities of daily living in Parkinson’s disease 

Parkinson’s disease is a gradually worsening disorder, and at some point, most Parkinson’s patients start to experience difficulties with their daily activities. University of Tartu researchers carried out a study in which 24 patients with Parkinson’s disease were randomly assigned into intervention and control groups. Two assessments were performed with a gap of 10 weeks.  

During eight weeks, participants in the intervention group attended 60-minute physiotherapy sessions in groups of three. Each session addressed the five core areas recommended by the European Physiotherapy Guideline for Parkinson’s disease: gait, transfers, balance, physical capacity, and manual activities.  

The results indicated that two months of physiotherapy based on the guidelines for Parkinson’s disease patients significantly reduced patient-perceived difficulties in basic activities of daily living. 

Read more in the article. 

Further information: Kadri Medijainen, Programme Director of Physiotherapy,  


Boundaries of linguistic units and language chunking in speech  

For the listener, the utterance “theypromisedtobringmesomeboxes” is a sequence of sounds. To understand it, the listener has to recognise meaningful units. This means that the listener does not focus on individual sounds such as p or m, but quickly organises the utterance into larger meaningful unit or chunks, based on their linguistic expectations.

In the articlePerceptual study of language chunking”, Research Fellow in General Linguistics of the University of Tartu Piia Taremaa and Researcher of the Goethe University Frankfurt Nele Ots hypothesised that speech prosodic phenomena such as pitch resets (intonation), the rate of speech and the pronunciation of syllables (speech rhythm), stress (louder and stronger pronunciation) and pauses could play a very important role in perceiving speech chunks. 

Acoustic measurements and sentence analysis, however, showed that listeners focus more on syntactic regularities than prosody when chunking oral speech. At the same time, it is very likely that prosody plays a role in identifying grammatical relations. To understand which is perceived first, prosodic or structural information, speech perception needs to be studied in real time.  

Read more in the article. 

Further information: Piia Taremaa, Research Fellow in General Linguistics,  
Nele Ots, Researcher of the Goethe University Frankfurt,  


Microorganisms help to mitigate drought stress in plants 

Especially under climate change, drought is one of the major factors threatening agricultural production worldwide. Drought stress is a constraint to plant growth, development, and productivity. It is known that plant-associated bacteria, fungi, and viruses can enhance stress resistance in plants and help them cope with the negative impacts of drought. They help launch various mechanisms that allow for biochemical and physiological changes in plants. A study carried out with the participation of UT plant ecologists gives an overview of the role of plant-associated microorganisms in mitigating plant drought stress.   

Read more in the article.

Further information: C. Guillermo Bueno, Research Fellow of Plant Ecology,   Yiming Meng, doctoral student of the Plant Ecology Lab,  

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