The neuroscience of poverty

PovertyBrainA small but growing group of neuroscientists is exploring a striking idea: Growing up in poverty doesn’t just limit children’s circumstances, but actually alters the very structure and physiology of their brains. I took a close look at studies published over the last decade in this new and controversial field. Continue reading “The neuroscience of poverty”

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Probiotics for honeybees

HivesWarmColorsEarlier this year, while reporting a story about the bugs in the bees — that is, the microbiome in bees’ guts — I spoke to a USDA researcher named Jay Evans, who described some work in his lab testing whether feeding bees probiotics can help protect against pathogens that weaken hive health. Continue reading “Probiotics for honeybees”

Will McDonald’s ‘sustainable beef’ burgers really be any better?

McDonaldsIn the near future, you might not feel as guilty about ordering a Big Mac. McDonald’s claims that by 2016, some of its iconic burgers – along with other beef products – will be made with “verified sustainable beef”. The only problem: it’s unclear what exactly is so sustainable – or indeed verifiable – about the beef of the future. Continue reading “Will McDonald’s ‘sustainable beef’ burgers really be any better?”

Hopeful Currents

PsychTodayOne day last September, 40-year-old Jaime Campbell walked into a brain research laboratory at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where a researcher affixed two sponge-covered electrodes to her head. One was positioned above her left eye, over her brain’s prefrontal cortex, and the other was set on the side of her head, over her auditory cortex. With the turn of a dial, a steady two milliamps of direct current coursed through the electrodes for 20 minutes. Continue reading “Hopeful Currents”