Brain

Via Popular Science / bestofwhatsnew.popsci.com

For the past 27 years the editors of Popular Science have identified products and technologies designed to change our world. On today’s show we’ll review some of 2014’s groundbreaking technology.

Then, we’ve come to accept retouched images on magazine covers and billboard ads, but now the practice has moved to movies and television. We’ll take a look at the latest advancement in digital-alteration: frame-by-frame beauty work.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

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It’s often said that adolescents are impulsive partly because their brains aren’t fully developed.  Now a new book adds fuel to the discussion, describing how the period of adolescence is a lot longer these days, from age ten to twenty-five. It also shows that the brain at this time is highly malleable, and much more easily influenced by both positive and negative experiences. 

This program was originally broadcast on November 3, 2014.

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For years, the fact that classical music helps little brains grow and develop has been common knowledge. It appears in books about raising kids, comes from other parents, and spurs sales of CDs with names like “Bach For Babies.” But is it actually solid advice? We spoke with Jayson Greene who wrote the article “Mozart Makes You Smarter…And Other Dubious Musical Theories." He says no, it isn’t.

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Why is six scared of seven? Because seven, eight, nine. Jokes like this are only one example of the ways that we humans like to assign personality traits to the numbers that dictate our world. Today on Word of Mouth we explore this seemingly universal tendency to create emotional associations with numbers.  Then, is tipping culturally determined? Freakonomics investigates the nuances of tipping in the United States with the help of Cornell professor Michael Lynn. Plus, Botox is well known for freezing the faces of many a Hollywood starlet, but how about freezing out negative emotions? We hear from journalist Taffy Brodesser-Akner about how Botox is being used to treat depression.

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments.


New Numbers & Research On Autism

Apr 28, 2014
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With new numbers from the Centers for Disease Control showing ever-increasing rates, researchers and advocates are considering the causes and ramifications. Meanwhile, a new study strengthens the argument that autism originates in the brain before birth. We’ll talk to a panel of New Hampshire experts on this disorder for the latest.

GUESTS: 

In a world where doodling is often criticized as a means toward distraction, new studies have shown that sketching and doodling improve our comprehension and creative thinking. Sunni Brown argues that there is no such thing as a mindless drawing. Her movement, and forthcoming book, is called ‘The Doodle Revolution'. She joins us to set the record straight.

Here’s another sign that personal technology has penetrated nearly every part of our lives – Boston Globe Health Reporter and blogger Deborah Kotz recently wrote about a newly recognized medical phenomenon called “dystextia”


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Ever wonder whether hard facts play a part in changing a person's mind? Turns out, not so much. Boing Boing's Maggie Koerth-Baker wrote about the real influences on choice for The New York Times Magazine.

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Thanks to growing awareness of a national obesity epidemic, and the lowering of complication rates since its introduction in the 1960s, gastric bypass procedures have become an increasingly popular treatment option for the morbidly obese.  At least 200,000 people signed up last year in the U.S. alone. 

Scientists at the University of Illinois report that they have mapped the physical architecture of the brain with accuracy never before achieved. Their study, published in Brain: A Journal of Neurology is the largest, most comprehensive analysis so far of the brain structures vital to general intelligence –which depends on a remarkably circumscribed neural system – and to specific cognitive functions, like memory, self-control and recognizing speech. 

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Throughout the year, we’ve been featuring a series we call 11 for 11… conversations with innovative thinkers who challenge and provoke new ways of thinking about the issues of our time. Dr. Raymond Tallis is a former clinical neuroscientist turned author.