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Bringing Up Baby

By Shankar Vedantam
Moms, babies and music - promo version (16x9).

This week we focus on the behavior of the youngest members of the human race. We try to translate the mysterious language of babies. And we ask, when should we step back and just let our children be?

(Image credit: Fabio Consoli for NPR)

  • November 15th 2018 at 23:10

Buzz, Buzz: Bitter Tasters Like Coffee Better

By Joe Palca
People who are sensitive to the bitterness of caffeine tend to drink more coffee than others, while people sensitive to bitter flavors like quinine drink less coffee, according to a new study.

A genetic analysis of samples taken from a large UK health database suggest that people who are more sensitive than their peers to the bitter taste of caffeine tend to drink more coffee — not less.

(Image credit: Dimitri Otis/Getty Images)

  • November 15th 2018 at 15:00

Maybe Neanderthals Weren't Quite So Nasty And Brutish

By Merrit Kennedy
Neanderthals are believed to have relied on dangerous close range hunting techniques, using non-projectile weapons like the thrusting spears depicted in this artist

New research finds they sustained skull injuries at about the same rate as early modern humans. "I definitely think that it's evidence these guys were not beating each other up," one expert says.

(Image credit: Gleiver Prieto & Katerina Harvati)

  • November 14th 2018 at 21:44

Say Au Revoir To That Hunk Of Metal In France That Has Defined The Kilogram

By Nell Greenfieldboyce
Forged in 1879 and sanctioned by the General Conference on Weights and Measures at its first meeting, Le Grand K, the international prototype of the kilogram, has been kept under lock and key in a vault outside Paris.

A small cylinder called Le Grand K has defined the kilogram for more than a hundred years. But if a scratch ever rendered it lighter, the definition of the kilo literally shifted. Time for a change.

(Image credit: BIPM)

  • November 13th 2018 at 11:06

How Can Schools Better Persuade Students To Show Up For Class?

By Shankar Vedantam
Full front view of an old student desk on white; copy space

Many schools give attendance awards to motivate students. A study found students who were awarded for perfect attendance went on to have more absences than their peers who weren't given the award.

(Image credit: shorrocks/Getty Images)

  • November 13th 2018 at 11:06

Vitamin D And Fish Oil Supplements Mostly Disappoint In Long-Awaited Research Results

By Patti Neighmond
Taking fish oil supplements to prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer may not be effective, a new study suggests.

After years of debate, a major government funded study failed to find any overall benefit of taking widely used supplements to protect against heart disease or cancer.

(Image credit: Cathy Scola/Getty Images)

  • November 10th 2018 at 21:01

Scientists Spy On Bees, See Harmful Effects Of Common Insecticide

By Merrit Kennedy
A bumblebee outfitted with a unique tracking tag forages outdoors.

Bees exposed to a type of insecticides called neonicotinoids dramatically changed their behavior — becoming sluggish, antisocial and spending less time caring for the colony's young, researchers say.

(Image credit: James Crall /Science)

  • November 9th 2018 at 18:04

Should Childhood Trauma Be Treated As A Public Health Crisis?

By Erin Blakemore
Researchers followed a group of kids from childhood into adulthood to track the link between trauma in early life and adult mental health.

New research highlights the link between childhood trauma and mental illness and addiction in adulthood, leading some researchers to call it an issue as pressing as any infectious disease.

(Image credit: fzant/Getty Images)

  • November 9th 2018 at 17:49

Researchers Uncover A Circuit For Sadness In The Human Brain

By Jon Hamilton
Patients awaiting epilepsy surgery agreed to keep a running log of their mood while researchers used tiny wires to monitor electrical activity in their brains. The combination revealed a circuit for sadness.

When people are feeling glum, it often means that brain areas involved in emotion and memory are communicating. Researchers now have observed the circuit in action in humans.

(Image credit: Stuart Kinlough/Ikon Images/Getty Images)

  • November 8th 2018 at 17:01

Active Ingredient In Marijuana Reduced Alzheimer's-Like Effects In Mice

By Jon Hamilton
Researchers say it

In mice genetically programmed to develop Alzheimer's symptoms, those given a synthetic version of a chemical in marijuana retained normal memory function.

(Image credit: MmeEmil/Getty Images)

  • November 7th 2018 at 20:03

Is The Pentagon Modifying Viruses To Save Crops โ€” Or To Wage Biological Warfare?

By Dan Charles
Alba Nava uses an aspirator to gather virus-carrying whiteflies that have been feeding on tomato plants at the University of Florida.

The Pentagon wants university researchers to find ways to protect crops in the field using infectious viruses carried by insects. Critics think it looks like bioweapons research.

(Image credit: Dan Charles/NPR)

  • November 7th 2018 at 11:09

These Flatworms Can Regrow A Body From A Fragment. How Do They Do It And Could We?

By Gabriela Quirรณs
still

Biologists are keen to understand how a type of flatworm known as a planarian uses powerful stem cells to regenerate an entire body from a headless sliver of itself.

(Image credit: Deep Look/Youtube)

  • November 6th 2018 at 11:00

Neuroscientists Debate A Simple Question: How Does The Brain Store A Phone Number?

By Jon Hamilton
How does the brain

Working memory is where the brain keeps bits of information in everyday life handy. But brain scientists don't agree on how working memory works.

(Image credit: Jon Berkeley/Ikon Images/Getty Images)

  • November 4th 2018 at 23:40

Despite Warnings, FDA Approves Potent New Opioid Painkiller

By Jake Harper
Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, testifying before a House subcommittee in May. There are "very tight restrictions" being placed on the distribution and use of Dsuvia, Gottlieb said Friday in addressing the FDA

Critics, including some leading anesthesiologists, say the drug is unnecessary, and they worry it will be diverted and abused. The Food And Drug Administration says it is addressing safety concerns.

(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

  • November 2nd 2018 at 20:05

She Chose To 'Go Flat' And Wants Other Breast Cancer Survivors To Know They Can Too

By Rachel D. Cohen
Catherine Guthrie decided not to get breast reconstruction after her double mastectomy in 2009. Not Putting on a Shirt is a grassroots advocacy organization that brings attention to the issue of surgeons disregarding breast cancer patients

After her double mastectomy, writer Catherine Guthrie came to embrace her new body, without breast reconstruction. But, she has learned, women have to push the medical system to support this choice.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Catherine Guthrie)

  • November 2nd 2018 at 17:50

How Long Should Older Moms Wait Before Getting Pregnant Again?

By Carey Goldberg
For older mothers, it can feel like there

As a woman ages, choosing when to try for a second or third child means weighing fertility odds against the risks of getting pregnant again too soon. A new study provides more data to help decide.

(Image credit: Lauren Bates/Getty Images)

  • November 1st 2018 at 23:01

For Cervical Cancer Patients, Less Invasive Surgery Is Worse For Survival

By Richard Harris
Cancer of the cervix is one of the most common cancers affecting women and can be fatal. Here, cervical cancer cells are dividing, as seen through a colored scanning electron micrograph.

Two new studies suggest that minimally invasive surgery for early stage cervical cancer patients leads to death and recurring disease more often than standard surgery through a large incision.

(Image credit: Steve Gschmeissner/Getty Images/Science Photo Library)

  • October 31st 2018 at 23:09

Birds Got Their Colorful, Speckled Eggs From Dinosaurs

By Nell Greenfieldboyce
Arrangement of colored oviraptor-like eggs in an oviraptorid nest arrangement

A new study found that birds' dinosaur relatives had eggs with traces of two pigments—a red-brown one and a blue-green one. In today's birds that might produce a color such as robin's egg blue.

(Image credit: Jasmina Wiemann/Yale University)

  • October 31st 2018 at 19:40

Social Stigma Is One Reason The Opioid Crisis Is Hard To Confront

By Shankar Vedantam

The CDC estimated that 72,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2017. There are many reasons why the opioid crisis is so hard to confront. One of them is social stigma.

(Image credit: Jennifer Schmidt/NPR)

  • October 31st 2018 at 10:00

When Adolescents Give Up Pot, Their Cognition Quickly Improves

By Rachel D. Cohen
Even a week without marijuana use improves young people

When researchers convinced a group of young people to stop smoking pot, their cognition quickly improved. This adds to research warning against teen pot use, despite marijuana's growing acceptance.

(Image credit: BURGER/Canopy/Getty Images)

  • October 30th 2018 at 18:01
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