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Mosaic Science Podcast

The Mosaic Science Podcast - audio documentaries and audio versions of our weekly longread. Mosaic is a digital magazine that publishes compelling stories exploring the science of life. Produced by the Wellcome Trust. More at mosaicscience.com.
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Now displaying: 2018
Dec 31, 2018

Notoriously illegal and synonymous with hedonism, LSD and ecstasy started life as aids to psychotherapy. Sam Wong meets the band of psychiatrists who are looking to reclaim them for medicine again.

Written by Sam Wong, read by Pip Mayo, produced by Barry J Gibb, audio editing by Geoff Marsh

For more stories and to read the text original, visit mosaicscience.com

If you liked this story, we recommend Saved: How addicts gained the power to reverse overdoses, also available as a podcast. 

Dec 24, 2018

Telling cancer from non-cancer is tough for brain surgeons. Scorpions, Amazon.com and the legacy of a dying girl might change that, writes Alex O'Brien.

Written by Alex O'Brien, read by Kirsten Irving, produced by Barry J Gibb

For more stories and to read the text original, visit mosaicscience.com

If you liked this story, we recommend listening to Decisions on a knife edge, by Charlotte Huff, also available as a podcast. 

Dec 17, 2018

Women’s reproductive rights are under attack across the globe. Sophie Cousins investigates the challenges women face in accessing abortion and contraception in two very different countries – India and the USA.

Written by Sophie Cousins

Read by Kirsten Irving 

Produced by Graihagh Jackson

If you liked this story, we recommend Postpartum psychosis: "I'm afraid of how you'll judge me, as a mother and as a person", by Catherine Carver, also available as an audiobook. 

Dec 10, 2018

Oklahoma has lost a million pounds of fat. Ian Birrell asks how – and whether declaring ‘war on obesity’ can really change a city’s infrastructure and encourage healthy living.

Written by Ian Birrell, read by Kirsten Irving, produced by Barry J Gibb

If you liked this story, we recommend listening to Brazil's billion dollar gym experiment by Ian Birrell, also available as a podcast. 

Dec 3, 2018

Headlines scream about “epidemics” of shootings and stabbings – but what if we took that literally? From Chicago to Glasgow, treating violence as a public health problem has produced great results.

Written by Samira Shackle

Read by Kirsten Irving

Produced by Graihagh Jackson

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If you liked this story, we recommend 'The women that kill, abuse and torture' by Katarine Quarmby, also available as a podcast. 

Nov 26, 2018

Applying mild electrical currents to your head could take away pain, help memory and improve attention – and the US military is very interested. Emma Young reports.

Written by Emma Young, read by Kirsten Irving, produced by Barry J Gibb

If you liked this story, we recommend Can you think yourself into a different person? by Will Story, also available as a podcast.

Nov 19, 2018

In Finland, people whose sickness is linked to certain buildings fear being labelled as mentally ill, while scientists search for evidence that their condition is ‘real’.

Written by Shayla Love

Read by Graihagh Jackson 

If you liked this story, we recommend Shayla Love's story 'Meet the dogs with OCD', also available as a podcast. 

 

Nov 12, 2018

One nerve connects your vital organs, sensing and shaping your health. If we learn to control it, the future of medicine will be electric.

Written by Gaia Vince, read by Kirsten Irving, produced by Barry J Gibb, edited by Geoff Marsh

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If you liked this story, we recommend Mosaicscience – Can-you-supercharge-your-brain by Emma Young, also available as a podcast.

Nov 5, 2018

When doctors in rural Italy began to see a surge in cancer cases, they were baffled. Then they made the link with industrial waste being dumped by local crime syndicates. Ian Birrell learns about the tragic consequences. 

Written by Ian Birrell

Read by Michael Regnier

Produced by Graihagh Jackson

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If you liked this story, we recommend 'Brazil's cancer curse' by Sue Armstrong, also available as a podcast. 

Oct 29, 2018

"Polio was unpredictable. Often no more harmful than any other childhood infection, it could on occasion ‘turn’ with swift, inexplicable savagery, destroying a child’s nerve cells and leaving him paralysed for life. If it damaged the nerves controlling his lungs they could freeze up and György would either die or spend the rest of his life inside an iron lung that breathed for him."

Trapped by the Cold War and scarred after a failed revolution, Hungary fought one of its greatest battles against polio.

Written by Penny Bailey, read by Pip Mayo, audio editor Geoff Marsh, produced by Barry J Gibb

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If you liked this story, we recommend Mosaicscience – Prisoners-of-war, also available on our podcast.

Oct 23, 2018

Sex workers in Mozambique are providing health support to those at the margins of society. They face political and financial challenges, but against the odds they are helping thousands.

Written by Jules Montague 

Read by Kirsten Irving 

Produced by Graihagh Jackson

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If you liked this story, we recommend 'How HIV became a matter of international security' by Alexandra Ossola, available to read here. 

Oct 15, 2018

"Losing enjoyment of food and drink is a common complaint for people who lose their sense of smell. You can taste sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami with your tongue. More complex flavours – like grapefruit or barbecued steak – depend on smell. But for Nick, as for many people who can’t smell, there’s another category of loss altogether."

Losing your sense of smell can fundamentally change the way you relate to other people.

Written by Emma Young, read by Kirsten Irving, produced by Barry J Gibb, edited by Geoff Marsh

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If you liked this story, we recommend Mosaicscience – Why-do-we-have-allergies by Carl Zimmer, also available as a podcast.

 

Oct 8, 2018

Melioidosis is a bacterial infection that quietly causes thousands of deaths each year. Meet the doctor who made it his mission to make the world take notice.

Written by Carrie Arnold

Read by Michael Regnier

Produced by Graihagh Jackson

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If you liked this story, we recommend 'Hunting the silent killer' by Patrick Strudwick, also available as a podcast. 

Oct 1, 2018

In a world obsessed with beauty, living with a facial disfigurement can be hard. Neil Steinberg explores the past and present to find out what it’s like to look different.

Written by Neil Steinberg

Read by Pip Mayo

Produced by Barry J Gibb

Edited by Geoff Marsh

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If you liked this podcast, we recommend, 'How far would you go to be able to smile' by Neil Steinberg. 

Sep 24, 2018

Using sleep deprivation to lift people out of severe depression may seem counterintuitive, but for some people, it’s the only thing that works. 

Written by Linda Geddes

Read by Rebecca McIntosh 

Produced by Graihagh Jackson

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If you liked this story, we recommend 'Why we still don't understand sleep, and why it matters', also available as a podcast. 

Sep 17, 2018

How have the farm animals of today been shaped by centuries of domestication and selective breeding? Sujata Gupta investigates.

Written by Sujata Gupta, read by Kirsten Irving, produced by Barry J Gibb, edited by Geoff Marsh

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Sep 10, 2018

Smiling is one of the fundamental ways people communicate, so what happens if your face can’t do it?

Written by Neil Steinberg
Read by Charlotte Hussey
Produced by Graihagh Jackson

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Sep 3, 2018

Women predisposed to ovarian cancer can reduce their risk with surgery, but with it comes early menopause. To avoid this, some doctors propose delaying part of the procedure. But is this safe? Charlotte Huff explores the costs of buying time.

Written by Charlotte Huff, read by Kirsten Irving, produced by Barry J Gibb

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Aug 27, 2018

A disease that killed millions in the 20th century still lingers – and with it the threat of a new epidemic. Why? The answer may have been staring us in the face all along, as Michael Regnier discovered when he travelled to Guinea with scientists searching for the key to a medical mystery.

Written by Michael Regnier, read by Michael Regnier, produced by Graihagh Jackson.

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Aug 20, 2018

Allergies such as peanut allergy and hay fever make millions of us miserable, but scientists aren’t even sure why they exist. Carl Zimmer talks to a master immunologist with a controversial answer.

Written by Carl Zimmer, read by Kirsten Irving, produced by Barry J Gibb

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Aug 13, 2018

Twenty-five years after the discovery of the gene behind Huntington’s disease, Peter Forbes reports on the potential first treatment for this devastating condition.

Written by Peter Forbes, read by Brian Yim Lim, produced by Graihagh Jackson.

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Aug 6, 2018

"We gaze into the eyes of a chimp and see a reflection of ourselves. We glance at a crow and see an alien being that under some jurisdictions can be exterminated with impunity - bringing a sinister second meaning to the phrase "a murder of crows". Such biases affect ordinary people and academic experts alike, skewing our understanding of what non-human intelligence looks like."

Do our thoughts and feelings distort the way we understand animal minds? Peter Aldhous argues that to grasp what intelligence is, we need to think differently.

Written by Peter Aldous, read by Kirsten Irving, produced by Barry J Gibb

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Jul 30, 2018

More and more people are donating organs, but demand still far exceeds supply. What can the world learn from the country that does it best? https://wellc.me/2mIsHDt 

Written by Chris Baraniuk, narrated and produced by Graihagh Jackson. 

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Jul 23, 2018

"Cholera has killed nearly 9,000 Haitians. More than 730,000 people have been infected. It is the worst outbreak of the disease, globally, in modern history. Hundreds of emergency and development workers have been working alongside the Haitian government for five years, trying to rid the country of cholera, and millions of dollars have been dispense in the fight to eradicate it. But it's still here. Why?"

Why have attempts to get cholera under control in Haiti failed? Rose George reports.

Written by Rose George, read by Pip Mayo, produced by Barry J Gibb

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If you liked this story, we recommend The cost of pure water by Shaun Raviv, also available as a podcast.

UPDATE: When we first published this story in July 2015, some people claimed that the United Nations was responsible for bringing cholera to Haiti in the 2010 outbreak – something that the organisation denied. However, in August 2016 the UN acknowledged that it played a role in the outbreak, which has since killed 10,000 people. You can read Mosaic’s shorter piece on the causes of the 2010 outbreak here.

Jul 16, 2018

Meet the scientists finding out how we can defeat our inner trolls and build more cooperative digital societies.

Written by , narrated by Kirsten Irving, produced by Graihagh Jackson.

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Jul 9, 2018

"As more Indians adopt more urban lives, chronic conditions like diabetes, obesity and heart disease are on the rise, replacing malnutrition and infectious diseases as the country’s most urgent health worries. Reddy doesn’t want to risk his family’s health. He has decided that being healthy and poor is better than taking their chances in the modern, more developed, more open India."

Ill-health is the price rural Indians have to pay for seeking a better life in the city. Twenty-nine villages near Hyderabad are helping to explain why, Michael Regnier discovers.

Written by Michael Regnier, read by Michael Regnier, produced by Barry J Gibb, audio editing by Geoff Marsh

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If you liked this story, we recommend City cycling: health versus hazard by Lesley Evans Ogden, also available as a podcast.

 

Jul 2, 2018

Cognitive enhancement drugs are usually depicted as a distinctly contemporary phenomenon, however none of these drugs are new. Are we asking the right questions about smart drugs? Marek Kohn looks at what they can do for us – and what they can’t.

Written by Marek Kohn, narrated by Brian Yim Lim, produced by Graihagh Jackson.

To read the full story visit: mosaicscience.com/story/saved-how-…verse-overdoses/

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Jun 25, 2018

Naloxone can reverse an otherwise fatal heroin overdose within minutes. Carrie Arnold meets the doctors who put this remarkable drug in the hands of the police, families and addicts—and saved thousands of lives.

Written by Carrie Arnold, narrated by Kirsten Irving, produced by Graihagh Jackson.

To read the full story visit: mosaicscience.com/story/saved-how-…verse-overdoses/

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Jun 18, 2018

A mysterious kidney disease is striking down labourers across the world and climate change is making it worse. Jane Palmer meets the doctors who are trying to understand it and stop it.

Written by Jane Palmer, narrated by Michael Regnier, produced by Graihagh Jackson.

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If you liked this story, we recommend reading 'How to survive climate change: a lesson from Hurricane Maria'

 

Jun 11, 2018

"Gomez is one of Achatz's regular patients at the A C Camargo Cancer Center in São Paulo, Brazil. He is extraordinarily susceptible to cancer. So too are many members of his extended family; cancer is so common among them - and premature death so painfully familiar - that until they learned very recently of the cause, some believed their family was cursed. Gomez's is not the only family affected. The 'cure' afflicts hundreds of thousands of people in Brazil."

The startling discovery that hundreds of thousands of Brazilians have a genetic mutation that undermines their ability to resist cancer is helping labs worldwide in their search for new treatments for the disease. Sue Armstrong reports."

Written by Sue Armstrong, read by Pip Mayo, audio editing by Jen Whyntie.

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Jun 4, 2018

Calories consumed minus calories burned: it’s the simple formula for weight loss or gain. But dieters often find that it doesn’t work. Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley of Gastropod investigate.

Written by Cynthia Graber, read by Charlotte Hussey, produced by Graihagh Jackson

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May 28, 2018

"She packed up everything and moved to California to die. And she almost did. Less than a week after moving, Ellie was attacked by a swarm of Africanised bees."

Ellie Lobel was ready to die. Then she was attacked by bees. Christie Wilcox hears how venom can be a saviour.

Written by Christie Wilcox, read by Pip Mayo, produced by Barry J Gibb

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If you liked this story, we recommend Lovely grub: are insects the future of food? by Emily Anthes, also available as a podcast.

May 21, 2018

After his son’s suicide aged 18, Steve Mallen sees the world differently. Along with a growing number of mental health experts, he wants to reduce the rate of suicide across the world, and is aiming for zero. 

Written by Simon Usborne 

Read by Kirsten Irving

Produced by Graihagh Jackson

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May 14, 2018

They were the forgotten army. Taken captive during World War II, they lived lives of desperation and disease, internment and ingenuity. Long unspoken, their tale is now told through the voices of those who survived.

Audio producer: Chris Chapman
Sound designer: Eloise Whitmore
Assistant producer: Ellie Pinney
Fact checker: Laura Dawes
Editor: Mun-Keat Looi

Hear and read accompanying extras and a full transcript for this story on Mosaic: https://wellc.me/2wzmRfA 

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May 7, 2018

Emma Young meets a woman with dissociative identity disorder and discovers what happens when you lose your sense of being an individual.

Written by Emma Young
Read by Kirsten Irving
Produced by Graihagh Jackson

To read the full story visit: https://wellc.me/2KqInpG

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Apr 30, 2018

John Osborne has always hated the sound of whistling. But it wasn’t until a man whistling in a café infuriated him so much that he got up and left that he realised it was becoming a problem. Could he even be suffering from misophonia – a condition characterised by a strong dislike of certain sounds?

To get to the root of the issue, John embarks on a whimsical journey of self-discovery, diving headfirst into the worlds of professional whistling and psychology in an attempt to understand if he could ever learn to tolerate – or even love – the sound of whistling.

Narrated by John Osborne
Produced by Barry J Gibb

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Apr 23, 2018

Marian Partington is working to forgive Rosemary West – one of her sister’s killers – because she thinks the only way to break the cycle of female violence is to understand it. 

Written by Katharine Quarmby

Read by Kirsten Irving

To read the full story visit: https://mosaicscience.com/story/women-kill-abuse-torture-female-violence/ 

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Apr 16, 2018

"Men have been circumcised for thousands of years, yet our thinking about the foreskin seems as muddled as ever. And a close examination of this muddle raises disturbing questions. Is American exceptionalism justified? Should we really be funding mass circumcision in Africa? Or by removing the foreskins of men, boys and newborns, are we actually committing a violation of human rights?"

Common in the US, rare in Europe and now championed in Africa, male circumcision is hotly debated. Jessica Wapner explores whether the gains are worth the loss.

Written by Jessica Wapner, read by Pip Mayo, produced by Barry J Gibb

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If you liked this story, we recommend listening to Mosaicscience – The-future-of-sex by Emily Anthes, also available on our podcast.

Apr 9, 2018

Bringing genetics into medicine leads to more accuracy, better diagnosis and personalised treatment – but not for everyone. Carrie Arnold meets families for whom gene testing has led only to unanswered questions.

Written by Carrie Arnold
Read by Rebecca Macintosh
Produced by Graihagh Jackson

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Apr 2, 2018

Most of us would rather not think about what happens to our bodies after death. But that breakdown gives birth to new life in unexpected ways.

Written by Moheb Costandi
Read and produced by Barry J Gibb

This story was first published in May 2015.

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Mar 26, 2018

For the first 20 years of his life, Henry Nicholls had a healthy relationship with sleep. Shortly after his 21st birthday, he began to experience symptoms of narcolepsy, a debilitating disorder that’s plagued him ever since. Sleep research is progressing, so why are he and others like him still waiting for a cure?

Written by Henry Nicholls
Read by Graihagh Jackson
Produced by Graihagh Jackson

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Mar 19, 2018

Radioactivity stirs primal fears in many people, but Geoff Watts argues that an undue sense of its risks can cause real harm.

Written and read by Geoff Watts
Produced by Barry J Gibb

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Mar 12, 2018

If you’re hit by lightning, there’s a nine in ten chance you’ll survive. But what are the lasting effects of being exposed to hundreds of millions of volts?

Written by Charlotte Huff.
Read by Kirsten Irving
Produced by Graihagh Jackson

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Mar 5, 2018

In this special episode,Mosaic's Editor Chrissie Giles interviews the doctor and best-selling writer Atul Gawande about end-of-life care, the death of his father, and how we can create dignity for all of us as we age and at the end of life.

-

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Read the feature, 'Breaking bad news': mosaicscience.com/story/breaking-bad-news

Feb 26, 2018

Traditional flush toilets aren’t an option in many parts of the world, but neither is leaving people with unsafe and unhygenic choices. Now, one company is piloting a new loo that's waterless, off-grid and able to charge your phone. Lina Zeldovich travels to Madagascar to witness the start of a lavatorial revolution.

Feb 19, 2018

"Almost 30 per cent of children in care in Australia come from an Aboriginal background: 'The Stolen Generation - when Aborigines were forcibly taken away from their families - may not just be a shameful part of Australia's history...'. 'Is this seriously happening, in 2014?' I wonder. Most Australians are aware of the Stolen Generation, when it was legal for the government to take Aboriginal children away from their families. But this forced separation, I thought, had ended decades before."

Healthcare in Australia’s Aboriginal communities is hindered by a long history of racial discord between very different cultures. Georgina Kenyon discovers the story of one young woman who died in the 1980s, and asks whether anything has changed since.

Written by Georgina Kenyon, read by Pip Mayo and produced by Barry J Gibb

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If you liked this story, we recommend 'Blood speaks', Rose George's tale of menstrual taboo in Nepal and Bangladesh.

Feb 11, 2018

"What use, if any, is homesickness? 'It's purpose is the same today as it has been for millions of years - to deter us from leaving supportive groups and environments,' writes Mark Leary, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University in the USA, in Duke Magazine. 'Homesickness would have been relatively uncommon, occurring only when individuals were separated from supportive, familiar people.'"

What does it mean to be homesick in 2015, and does technology help or hinder us when we move to a new place? John Osborne revisits his past to find out.

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If you liked this story, we recommend listening to 'Secrets of the strong-minded' by Emma Young, also available as a podcast.

Feb 5, 2018

After giving birth, Catherine Carver became convinced that her baby had been swapped and that social workers were plotting to kill her. She recounts her terrifying journey into postpartum psychosis, and how she found healing in unexpected ways.

Written by: Catherine Carver
Read by: Kirsten Irving
Produced by: Graihagh Jackson

To read the full story visit: mosaicscience.com/story/post-partu…l-health-babies/

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If you liked this story, we recommend 'Better spaces for mental health', available here:mosaicscience.com/story/better-spa…s-mental-health/

Jan 29, 2018

"Despite all the ridicule and aversion and shame, we can no longer deny the emerging power of poo. Perhaps it's time to push past the disgust and start giving a shit. And doing so proudly."

Brace yourself for the unbelievable next big thing in healthcare: faecal transplants.

Written by Bryn Nelson, read by Segun Akingbola, produced by Barry J Gibb.

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https://open.spotify.com/show/2SPQebMqfZanxDcMJ0hzdz?si=EQw17wS7QF-ewiThJyrkiA

If you liked this story, we recommend 'This is what happens after you die' by Moheb Costandi, also available as a podcast. Link to the article: https://mosaicscience.com/story/what-happens-after-you-die/

Jan 22, 2018

Out of the blue, Vanessa Potter lost her sight. As she recovered, her senses mingled – hearing and touch changed the way she saw colours. Her quest to understand why introduced her to new tech that uses sound to help blind people see.

Written by: Vanessa Potter

Read by: Charlotte Hussey

Produced by: Graihagh Jackson

If you enjoyed this story, you might enjoy 'In the blink of an eye' by Bryn Nelson which you can access here: mosaicscience.com/story/severe-eye-pain/

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And also now available on Spotify: open.spotify.com/show/2SPQebMqfZa…S7QF-ewiThJyrkiA

 

 

Jan 14, 2018

"By the end of that day the September 11th Fund had been established by two major local charities. Donations poured in. Money first went on immediate aid - hot meals for rescue workers, emergency cheques for victims and their families - and then funds were made available for programmes to help New Yorkers to recover. The damage wasn't only physical, but psychological. Counsellors set up services in local churches, and psychiatrists came from around the country to offer their expertise and their insights. Thoughts turned to the city's children - how would they deal with the stress and trauma?"

Can children be made more psychologically ‘resilient’ to traumas like 9/11 – as well as the stress of everyday life? Emma Young meets a former school principal who believes they can.

Written by Emma Young, read by Kirsten Irving, produced by Barry J Gibb, edited by Geoff Marsh.

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Now also available on Spotify. 

If you liked this story, we recommend 'Can meditation really slow ageing' by Jo Marchant, also available as a podcast. Read the full story here: https://mosaicscience.com/story/can-meditation-really-slow-ageing/

Jan 7, 2018

When a brain tumour left Pat Long with persistent déjà vu, he began to question the very nature of reality. Here, he tells his story for the first time.

Written by: Pat Long

Read by: Brian Yim Lim

Produced by: Graihagh Jackson

If you enjoyed this story, you might enjoy 'Can you think yourself into a different person?' by Will Storr, which you can access here: https://mosaicscience.com/story/neuroplasticity

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Jan 1, 2018

"Debbie’s not alone in her enthusiasm for neuroplasticity, which is what we call the brain’s ability to change itself in response to things that happen in our environment. Claims for its benefits are widespread and startling. Half an hour on Google informs the curious browser that neuroplasticity is a “magical” scientific discovery that shows that our brains are not hard-wired like computers, as was once thought, but like “play-doh” or a “gooey butter cake”. This means that “our thoughts can change the structure and function of our brains” and that by doing certain exercises we can actually, physically increase our brain’s “strength, size and density”."

We used to believe our brains couldn't be changed. Now we believe they can - if we want it enough. But is that true? Will Storr wades through the facts and fiction.

Written by Will Storr, read by Will Storr, produced by Barry J Gibb, audio editing by Geoff Marsh

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If you liked this story, we recommend 'Can you supercharge your brain?' by Emma Young, also available as a podcast: https://mosaicscience.com/story/can-you-supercharge-your-brain

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