I am a contributing editor at Scientific American and write the Brain Waves blog for Psychology Today (you can find those posts here). My work has also appeared in The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Time, Vogue and many other publications. Earlier in my career, I was on staff at Newsweek, and People, among other places and I’ve included a few of my old favorites from those days.

People in Republican Counties Have Higher Death Rates Than Those in Democratic Counties

A growing mortality gap between Republican and Democrat areas may largely stem from policy choices During the COVID-19 pandemic, the link between politics and health became glaringly obvious. Democrat-leaning “blue” states were more likely to enact mask requirements and vaccine and social distancing mandates. Republican-leaning “red” states were much more…

Read More

The most personalized medicine: Studying your own child’s rare condition

He had not studied STXBP1, or syntaxin binding protein 1, but he knew that it plays a critical role in the transmission of electrical signals between neurons. Researchers had identified mutations in STXBP1 that reduce that signaling as a cause of infantile epileptic encephalopathy in 2008. Since then, increases in genetic testing have revealed STXBP1 encephalopathy in about one in 33,000 children. Clinical symptoms vary, but include epilepsy and, often, severe cognitive impairment; about 20 percent of children with the condition exhibit autism traits. Of the most affected children, Boland says, “they’re not going to be potty trained ever, they’re not going to learn to dress themselves.”

Read More

A Single, Quick ‘Mindset’ Exercise Protects against Adolescent Stress

Intriguingly, the intervention did not work for everyone in the same way. “The most vulnerable people in the most stressful time benefit the most,” says David Yeager, a developmental psychologist at U.T. Austin and a co-author of the paper. He emphasizes that the intervention is not intended to be used for survivors of trauma and abuse, but administering it broadly does no harm. In addition to addressing mental health issues, a goal of the intervention is to help adolescents engage with challenging courses and projects. In a charter school in one of the experiments, 63 percent of participants passed their math and science classes, compared with 47 percent of students in a control group.

Read More

U.S. Kids Are Falling behind Global Competition, but Brain Science Shows How to Catch Up

These findings did not get the attention they deserved, because they were announced in March 2020, a few days after the World Health Organization declared that COVID had become a pandemic. But they did not come as a surprise—other recent research has shown that about half of American children are not “on track” in at least one critical area of school readiness. Because the OECD report looked at kids who were just starting school, it was a powerful reminder that we have lost sight of something basic: Learning begins on the first day of life—and not the first day of class. The earliest years of a child’s life are full of opportunity. A child’s brain will never be more receptive to experience, more plastic, than it is during this pivotal time. Nearly 85 percent of brain growth occurs between birth and the age of three. During this period one million neural connections per second are formed.

Read More

How To Treat COVID At Home

Some over-the-counter medications can help symptoms, and there are ways to ease isolation Suzanne Myers was sick, concerned and a little confused. Myers, a 55-year-old who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., and her husband are both vaccinated and boosted against COVID, and in early spring they went to a weekend party…

Read More

Can’t Buy Me Luck: The Role of Serendipity in the Beatles’ Success

The right combination of variables is needed to achieve a blazing success—one explanation for why there was never a “Kinksmania” Imagine there were no Beatles—or that there was no Beatlemania anyway and that the lads from Liverpool were just another band that never got a record deal or that split…

Read More