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New Study Challenges The Assumption That Math Is Harder For Girls

By Jon Hamilton

Research shows that when boys and girls as old as 10 do math, their patterns of brain activity are indistinguishable. The finding is the latest challenge to the idea that math is harder for girls.

  • November 8th 2019 at 22:53

Math Looks The Same In The Brains Of Boys And Girls, Study Finds

By Jon Hamilton
Two fourth-graders rock side to side while doing math equations at Charles Pinckney Elementary School

Brain scans of 104 boys and girls doing basic math tasks found no gender differences. The finding adds to the evidence that boys and girls start out with equal ability in math.

(Image credit: John McDonnell/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

  • November 8th 2019 at 11:01

Western Individualism May Have Roots In The Medieval Church's Obsession With Incest

By Rhitu Chatterjee
Augustine of Hippo was among those in the Catholic Church who championed its eventual rejection of intrafamily marriages, which researchers say may have paved the way for a breakdown of extended family networks in Western Europe.

Researchers combed Vatican archives to find records of how ancient church policies restricting whom one could marry shaped Western values and family structures today.

(Image credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

  • November 7th 2019 at 21:20

There's A Promising New Vaccine For One Of The World's Top Health Threats

By Jason Beaubien
Indonesians independently carry out fumigation in their neighborhood to eradicate the larvae of mosquitoes that cause dengue fever. A new vaccine to prevent dengue may be on the horizon.

Dengue afflicts nearly 400 million people worldwide every year, but a vaccine has remained elusive. New research offers a path forward.

(Image credit: Aditya Irawan/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

  • November 7th 2019 at 16:07

Scrubbing Your House Of Bacteria Could Clear The Way For Fungus

By Pien Huang
Malassezia is a genus of fungi naturally found on the skin surfaces of many animals, including humans. The researchers found it in urban apartments, although some strains have been known to cause infections in hospitals.

A new study in Brazil finds that urban apartments have more diverse fungi — some healthy, some potentially not — than villages in the Amazon rainforest.

(Image credit: Science Source)

  • November 6th 2019 at 17:45

CRISPR Approach To Fighting Cancer Called 'Promising' In 1st Safety Test

By Rob Stein
The preliminary results described Wednesday come from two patients with multiple myeloma and one with sarcoma. This was just a first safety test, the scientists say, and was not designed to measure whether such a treatment would work.

Attempts to use the gene-editing tool CRISPR to develop a treatment for cancer seem safe and feasible in the earliest findings from the first three patients. "So far, so good," scientists say.

(Image credit: Jure Gasparic/EyeEm/Getty Images)

  • November 6th 2019 at 15:01

Hidden Brain: Does Going To Church Improve Your Mental Health?

By Shankar Vedantam
People sitting in the pews of a house of worship.

It's been debated a long time: Does being part of organized religion improve your mental health? A new study finds that religion can buffer adolescents against depression.

(Image credit: Exkalibur/Getty Images)

  • November 5th 2019 at 11:08

'The Great Pretender' Seeks The Truth About 'On Being Sane In Insane Places'

By Michael Schaub
The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness, by Susannah Cahalan

Journalist and Brain on Fire author Susannah Cahalan writes in an urgent, personal book that the '70s study by David Rosenhan had an outsized effect on psychiatry — and may have been fatally flawed.

(Image credit: Grand Central Publishing )

  • November 4th 2019 at 16:15

How Deep Sleep May Help The Brain Clear Alzheimer's Toxins

By Jon Hamilton
During deep sleep, waves of cerebrospinal fluid (blue) coincide with temporary decreases in blood flow (red). Less blood in the brain means more room for the fluid to carry away toxins, including those associated with Alzheimer

A study of 11 sleeping brains sheds some light on the mysterious link between sleep problems and Alzheimer's disease. The flow of cerebrospinal fluid through the brain appears to be the key.

(Image credit: Fultz et al. 2019)

  • October 31st 2019 at 20:21

For These Vampires, A Shared Blood Meal Lets 'Friendship' Take Flight

By Nell Greenfieldboyce
Common vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus), such as this group day-roosting in a cave in Mexico, can form cooperative, friendship-like social relationships.

Common vampire bats might drink the blood of their prey, but it turns out that these fearsome beasts can be warm and fuzzy when it comes to their fellow bats.

(Image credit: B.G. Thomson/Science Source)

  • October 31st 2019 at 16:00

U.S. Travel Ban Disrupts The World's Largest Brain Science Meeting

By Jon Hamilton
At Chicago

Scientists from nations including Iran, Mexico, and India were refused visas to attend this year's Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago. Some researchers got stand-ins to present their work.

(Image credit: Rob Piercy/Allen Institute)

  • October 24th 2019 at 20:56

Teen Vapers Who Want To Quit Look For Help Via Text

By John Daley
Though there are websites, hotlines, therapists and coaches to help teens manage nicotine cravings, there

Starting to vape is easy, but quitting a nicotine habit can be tough, teens are finding. Some vaping cessation programs have begun to reach out to teens where they live — on their phones.

(Image credit: Towfiqu Photography/Getty Images)

  • October 23rd 2019 at 12:18

Hospitals Around The World Have A Dire Shortage Of Blood

By Tim McDonnell
A blood transfusion bag hangs in an operating room in a hospital in the Republic of Congo. Most countries in sub-Saharan Africa have a huge gap between blood supply and demand, new research found.

The first global analysis of blood supply and demand finds that many developing countries are relying on risky emergency donations.

(Image credit: Godong/Universal Images Group/Getty Images)

  • October 22nd 2019 at 19:52

Scientists Create New, More Powerful Technique To Edit Genes

By Rob Stein
Scientists are exploring a new technique, called prime editing, that is more precise than CRISPR and which uses certain enzymes, including reverse transcriptase, to edit DNA.

A new technique, dubbed 'prime editing,' appears to make it even easier to make very precise changes in DNA. It's designed to overcome the limits of the CRISPR gene editing tool.

(Image credit: Evan Oto/Science Source)

  • October 21st 2019 at 22:09

Keeping Your Blood Sugar In Check Could Lower Your Alzheimer's Risk

By Jon Hamilton
A PET scan shows metabolism of sugar in the human brain.

Diabetes can double a person's chances of developing Alzheimer's. Now researchers are beginning to understand the role of brain metabolism in the development of the disease.

(Image credit: Science Source)

  • October 21st 2019 at 18:07

Get Your Flu Shot Now, Doctors Advise, Especially If You're Pregnant

By Patti Neighmond
Though complications from the flu can be deadly for people who are especially vulnerable, including pregnant women and their newborns, typically only about half of pregnant women get the needed vaccination, U.S. statistics show.

Pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease are particularly vulnerable to flu complications yet lag the elderly in getting vaccinated.

(Image credit: BSIP/Getty Images)

  • October 21st 2019 at 11:00

VIDEO: See A Controversial Swarm Of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes In A Lab In Italy

By Rob Stein
Scientists use a microscope to see if the genetic modification is spreading. Immature modified mosquitoes glow red with yellow eyes when illuminated with a laser.

NPR was the only news organization allowed into the lab to witness the moment the releases began this year. The goal is to create a powerful new weapon in the fight against malaria.

(Image credit: Pierre Kattar for NPR)

  • October 20th 2019 at 13:00

What's Behind The Research Funding Gap For Black Scientists?

By Emily Vaughn
A recent study looked at funding rates for R01 grant applications, which are designed to support "health-related research and development based on the mission of the NIH." In general, population-based projects were less likely to be funded than explorations of cellular mechanisms, the study found.

Black scientists more often seek grants for community health studies, but molecular-level research proposals win more funding. More diversity throughout the process could help close the gap, says NIH.

(Image credit: Will & Deni McIntyre/Science Source)

  • October 18th 2019 at 18:17

Most U.S. Dairy Cows Are Descended From Just 2 Bulls. That's Not Good

By Dan Charles
Unlike most dairy cows in America, which are descended from just two bulls, this cow at Pennsylvania State University has a different ancestor: She is the daughter of a bull that lived decades ago, called University of Minnesota Cuthbert. The bull

The drive to make more milk has had an unsavory side effect: Cows have become more genetically similar and less fertile. Scientists are trying to recover valuable genetic variation that was lost.

(Image credit: Dan Charles/NPR)

  • October 17th 2019 at 18:52

Canada's Decision To Make Public More Clinical Trial Data Puts Pressure On FDA

By Barbara Mantel
Already, Health Canada has posted safety and efficacy data online for four newly approved drugs; it plans to release reports for another 13 drugs and three medical devices approved or rejected since March.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration treats most data it gets on the development of new drugs and medical devices as confidential to companies. Critics say making the data public would help patients.

(Image credit: Teerapat Seedafong/EyeEm/Getty Images)

  • October 11th 2019 at 20:18
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