brain

Animals
6:32 pm
Sun October 5, 2014

Dolphins: Adorable, Playful, Not As Smart As You Might Think

Some researchers have begun to question the notion that dolphins are the super-intelligent creatures they've been made out to be.
Pavel Golovkin AP

Originally published on Tue October 7, 2014 9:26 am

Everyone loves dolphins. They're adorable, playful and super-intelligent, often called the geniuses of the ocean.

But recently some researchers have begun to question that last notion. When it comes to brainpower, dolphins might not be as special as you might think.

In a recent piece for New Scientist, Caroline Williams rounds up some of the dissenting opinions.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
4:32 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

Consciousness and the Soul

Credit Karen Neoh / Creative Commons

It has been nearly 400 years since Descartes wrote his famous declaration “Cogito ergo sum”, or, more commonly “I am thinking, therefore I exist”. But, in all that time, we still haven't answered the basic question: who are we?

In this hour, we explore the concepts of consciousness, the self, and the soul. What do today's top scientists, philosophers and spiritual leaders say about these topics and how have they arrived at their conclusions? Are we ready to accept the brain as the be-all and end-all of who we are or is there more to us than that?

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Thu September 25, 2014

School Start Times: Are Your Kids Getting Enough Sleep?

Daniel McNally.
Chion Wolf WNPR

It's one of our great cultural mysteries: why we wake up teenagers -- the same one who sleep past noon on the weekends -- at six in the morning to get on a bus, and then we ask them to learn! 

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Altruism
3:32 am
Mon September 22, 2014

The Biology Of Altruism: Good Deeds May Be Rooted In The Brain

Rob Donnelly for NPR

Originally published on Mon September 22, 2014 10:55 am

Four years ago, Angela Stimpson agreed to donate a kidney to a complete stranger.

"The only thing I knew about my recipient was that she was a female and she lived in Bakersfield, Calif.," Stimpson says.

It was a true act of altruism — Stimpson risked pain and suffering to help another. So why did she do it? It involved major surgery, her donation was anonymous, and she wasn't paid.

"At that time in my life, I was 42 years old. I was single, I had no children," Stimpson says. "I loved my life, but I would often question what my purpose is."

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Brain Science
1:32 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Some Things You Can Do In Your Sleep, Literally

After people learned to sort words while awake, their brains were able to do the same task while asleep.
Courtesy of Current Biology, Kouider et al.

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 11:23 am

For those who find themselves sleeping through work — you may one day find yourself working through sleep.

People who are fast asleep can correctly respond to simple verbal instructions, according to a study by researchers in France. They think this may help explain why you might wake if someone calls your name or why your alarm clock is more likely to rouse you than any other noise.

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Mon September 8, 2014

School Start Times: Are Your Kids Getting Enough Sleep?

Daniel McNally.
Chion Wolf WNPR

It's one of our great cultural mysteries: why we wake up teenagers -- the same one who sleep past noon on the weekends -- at six in the morning to get on a bus, and then we ask them to learn! 

Read more
The Faith Middleton Show
8:17 am
Tue September 2, 2014

ADHD and Managing Emotions

Credit lord amit/flick creative commons

We focus this hour on one of the nation's most respected clinicians and researchers working with teens and adults who have ADHD. Dr. Thomas E. Brown is Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, and Associate Director of the Yale Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders. (There is sometimes a link between ADHD and autism.)

Dr. Brown's new book, Smart but Stuck, looks at how managing emotions plays a key role in the lives of those with ADHD, including those who have high I.Q. scores.

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Thu August 21, 2014

This Is Your Brain on Poverty

Neil Conway Creative Commons

A recent poll from the the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health found that poverty leads to stress, affecting people’s ways of thinking and their overall health. In our region, researchers and doctors have found that living in poverty can actually hinder brain development.

This hour, we learn more about the psychology of poverty and find out what’s being done to combat some of the the stresses it brings on. We also talk to one researcher who has been looking at the impact of noise pollution on the brain development of children in low-income communities.

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Child Development
9:23 am
Wed August 20, 2014

What Kids' Drawings Say About Their Future Thinking Skills

Researchers asked 4-year-olds to draw a child. Here's a sample of their artwork.
Twins Early Development Study/King's College in London

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 8:54 am

At age 4, many young children are just beginning to explore their artistic style.

The kid I used to babysit in high school preferred self-portraits, undoubtedly inspired by the later works of Joan Miro. My cousin, a prolific young artist, worked almost exclusively on still lifes of 18-wheelers.

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The Faith Middleton Show
11:57 am
Mon July 14, 2014

Drunk Tank Pink

Credit peapodsquadmom/flickr creative commons

This hour: the way the thoughts we have and the decisions we make are influenced by forces that aren't always in our control.

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The Faith Middleton Show
10:51 am
Mon July 7, 2014

ADHD and Managing Emotions

Credit FutUndBeidl/flickr creative commons

We focus this hour on one of the nation's most respected clinicians and researchers working with teens and adults who have ADHD. Dr. Thomas E. Brown is Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, and Associate Director of the Yale Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders. (There is sometimes a link between ADHD and autism.)

Dr. Brown's new book, Smart but Stuck, looks at how managing emotions plays a key role in the lives of those with ADHD, including those who have high I.Q. scores.

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Kid Whiz
3:26 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Preschoolers Outsmart College Students In Figuring Out Gadgets

If you've noticed that kids seem to be better at figuring out these things, you're not alone.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 1:32 pm

Ever wonder why children can so easily figure out how to work the TV remote? Or why they "totally get" apps on your smartphone faster than you? It turns out that young children may be more open-minded than adults when it comes to solving problems.

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Mon June 23, 2014

Once Thought to Be Caused By Demons, What Do We Know About Epilepsy Today?

The CDC says often, it can be difficult to find a definite cause of epilepsy.
Saad Faruque Creative Commons

Historically, people with epilepsy were thought to be possessed by demons. Research has come a long way since then, but epilepsy remains mysterious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 26 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy in their lives. Annually, it costs more than $15 billion in medical costs and reduced work production.

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Head Injuries
5:34 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Head Injury Risk Rose In Cities After Bike-Sharing Rolled Out

John Rose NPR

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 12:20 pm

Editors' Note: This post has been revised to clarify and correct reporting on the findings of the bike helmet study. The researchers looked at head injuries, not just brain injuries, so the descriptions have been changed to head injuries throughout. The lead researcher said in response to follow-up questions that the study was designed to look at the risk of head injuries as a proportion of all injuries related to bicycling, so the headline and descriptions of the work have been changed to reflect that distinction.

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Aging
3:37 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Actress Speaks About Her Mother's Dementia

Actor, Kimberly Williams-Paisley
Credit Laura Goodwin

You probably recognize actor Kimberly Williams-Paisley. She got her start in the Steve Martin movie, "Father of the Bride," and has starred in multiple TV sitcoms, including "Two and A Half Men" and "Nashville."

Williams-Paisley is a writer, too, and she recently shared the challenges her family faced after her mother was diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia in 2005.

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The Faith Middleton Show
1:14 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

ADHD and Managing Emotions

Credit lord amit/flick creative commons

We focus this hour on one of the nation's most respected clinicians and researchers working with teens and adults who have ADHD. Dr. Thomas E. Brown is Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, and Associate Director of the Yale Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders. (There is sometimes a link between ADHD and autism.)

Dr. Brown's new book, Smart but Stuck, looks at how managing emotions plays a key role in the lives of those with ADHD, including those who have high I.Q. scores.

Read more
The Colin McEnroe Show
6:00 am
Mon May 26, 2014

The "World's Strongest Librarian" On Tourette Syndrome, Weightlifting, and Mormonism

Josh Hanagarne is the author of The World's Strongest Librarian.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

The story of Josh Hanagarne isn't necessarily funny. He was born with Tourette Syndrome, a poorly understood neuropsychiatric disorder which inflicts on Josh a blizzard of tics, flinches, whoops and yelps.  Most disconcertingly, he frequently hits himself in the face.

Josh's first refuge was books, and that led to a career as a librarian. His second refuge was playing the guitar, which somehow distracted his mind from the triggers producing the tics. And his third refuge was exercise, specifically strength and weight training. 

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Photography And Memory
5:18 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Overexposed? Camera Phones Could Be Washing Out Our Memories

Rebecca Woolf takes a lot of photos of her children for her blog, Girl's Gone Child, but says she tries to not let the camera get in the middle of a moment.
Courtesy of Rebecca Woolf

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 12:58 pm

Los Angeles blogger Rebecca Woolf uses her blog, Girl's Gone Child, as a window into her family's life. Naturally, it includes oodles of pictures of her four children.

She says she's probably taken tens of thousands of photos since her oldest child was born. And she remembers the moment when it suddenly clicked — if you will — that she was too absorbed in digital documentation.

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Mental Health
9:20 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Marathon Bombing Study Makes Link Between Brain and Trauma

Boylston Street in Boston on April 24, 2013, nine days after the Boston Marathon bombing.
Rebecca Hildreth Creative Commons

When the Boston Marathon bombing occurred, neuroscientists at Harvard University were midway through a study on trauma and the adolescent brain. As a result, they said they were able to make some new scientific links between PTSD and media exposure.

Last April, Professor Katie McLaughlin and her colleagues at Harvard were studying the brains of young people who’d been through serious adversity. They had recruited about 150 children and teens. Half had reported early trauma or stress, and half had not.

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For Your Health
8:51 am
Tue May 6, 2014

Newly Diagnosed With Epilepsy, and Not Sure What It Means

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says seizures are caused by "anything that disturbs the normal pattern of neuron activity—from illness to brain damage to abnormal brain development."
Johan Swanepoel/iStock Thinkstock

Want to know how to scare your co-workers? Fall to the ground and have a seizure in front of everyone.

About two weeks ago, that’s what happened to me. I don’t remember what happened, and I only remember scattered moments from the rest of the day. The wire to my headphones snapped and my face was noticeably battered.

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Mon May 5, 2014

Once Thought to Be Caused By Demons, What Do We Know About Epilepsy Today?

The CDC says often, it can be difficult to find a definite cause of epilepsy.
Saad Faruque Creative Commons

Historically, people with epilepsy were thought to be possessed by demons. Research has come a long way since then, but epilepsy remains mysterious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 26 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy in their lives. Annually, it costs more than $15 billion in medical costs and reduced work production.

Read more
Marijuana Use
1:42 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Study Links Casual Pot Use With Brain Abnormalities

(prensa420/Flickr)

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 3:30 pm

Young adults who smoke marijuana at least once a week showed changes in the size and shape of two key brain regions, according to a new study of 20 pot smokers and 20 non-pot smokers between 18 and 25.

This is the first time recreational marijuana use has been connected to significant brain changes.

The findings, a collaboration between Northwestern University and Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, were published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

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Autism Spectrum Disorders
10:02 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Early Childhood Autism Treatment Is Key, But Diagnosis Is Difficult

A young boy with autism with a line of toys he sorted before falling asleep.
Credit Andwhatsnext / Creative Commons

Most children with autism are well past their fourth birthday by the time they’re diagnosed with the condition, according to new government data.

Their parents and teachers may have raised red flags earlier, but it takes months or years to confirm suspicions with a formal diagnosis. And therapy rarely starts without one.

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Brain Science
10:09 am
Thu April 10, 2014

How Yale Scientists Are Trying to Read Minds

New research is using brain data to reconstruct images of facial memories.
Credit digitalbob8/flickr creative commons

New research out of Yale University is claiming clairvoyance. It's called "neuroimaging," a fancy way of saying scientists are reading your mind.

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Brain Science
10:13 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Criminologist Believes Violent Behavior Is Biological

Adrian Raine has studied the brains of violent criminals, including that of serial killer Randy Kraft, aka the "Freeway Killer."
University of Southern California

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 2:09 pm

This interview originally aired on April 30, 2013.

Twenty years ago, when brain imaging made it possible for researchers to study the minds of violent criminals and compare them to the brain imaging of "normal" people, a whole new field of research — neurocriminology — opened up.

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Food Moods
7:55 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Sriracha Chemistry: How Hot Sauces Perk Up Your Food And Your Mood

Can you name the five main ingredients in Sriracha?
Reactions YouTube

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 11:33 am

Anyone who has ever drizzled, doused or — heck — drenched their food with Sriracha knows the hot sauce can make almost any dish taste better.

But could these spicy condiments also make us a little happier?

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Teen Health
10:29 am
Thu February 6, 2014

Less Sleep, More Time Online Raise Risk For Teen Depression

Teenagers' sleep patterns may be a clue to their risk of depression.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 2:26 pm

The teenage years are a tumultuous time, with about 11 percent developing depression by age 18. Lack of sleep may increase teenagers' risk of depression, two studies say.

Teenagers who don't get enough sleep are four times as likely to develop major depressive disorder as their peers who sleep more, according to researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. They tracked the habits of more than 4,000 adolescents over a year.

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Memory
2:22 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Our Brains Rewrite Our Memories, Putting Present In The Past

The brain edits memories of the past, updating them with new information. Scientists say this may help us function better in the present. But don't throw those photos away.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 8:04 am

Think about your fifth-birthday party. Maybe your mom carried the cake. What did her face look like? If you have a hard time imagining the way she looked then rather than how she looks now, you're not alone.

The brain edits memories relentlessly, updating the past with new information. Scientists say that this isn't a question of having a bad memory. Instead, they think the brain updates memories to make them more relevant and useful now — even if they're not a true representation of the past.

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This is your brain on music!
10:50 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Watkinson Extended Play: Using Music as Medicine

The crowd at Watkinson School.
Chion Wolf WNPR

There is nothing particularly new about the idea that music can be a palliative or a distraction from pain or physical discomfort associated with illness. But over the last 25 years or so, we’ve seen a rising tide of interest in some that lies well beyond that -- a frontier where music’s actual therapeutic and even, curative powers can be discovered.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
10:45 am
Wed January 29, 2014

The Healing Power of Music: Colin McEnroe at Watkinson School

Kate Callahan and her band play at Watkinson School.
Chion Wolf WNPR

A lot of interconnected things were happening in the 1990s, an oncologist and hematologist  named Mitchell Gaynor discovered trough a Tibetan monk, the so-called singing bowls and began incorporating them into the guided meditation and breathing work he did with his patients.

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