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If you could change the way a monkey or an ape's brain is wired, that animal would be capable of producing perfectly intelligible speech. That's the conclusion of a study that closely tracked the movements of a monkey's mouth and throat with X-rays, to understand the full potential of its vocal tract . Researchers then used that information to create a computer model of what it would sound like if the monkey were able to say phrases such as "happy holidays." The finding calls into question...

Any pet owner will tell you that their animal companions comfort and sustain them when life gets rough. This may be especially true for people with serious mental illness, a study finds. When people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder were asked who or what helped them manage the condition, many said it was pets that helped the most. "When I'm feeling really low they are wonderful because they won't leave my side for two days," one study participant with two dogs and two cats, "They just...

Scientists in Ireland are using a rather unexpected material to make an extremely sensitive pressure detector: Silly Putty. The Irish researchers combined the kids' plaything with a special form of carbon, and came up with a remarkable new material — one they think could someday be useful in making medical devices. Physicist Jonathan Coleman , at Trinity College, Dublin, says Silly Putty has some extraordinary properties. If you roll the stuff into a tight ball and throw it on the ground, it...

It's been nearly a year since Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency in Flint, Mich. Before she became mayor, the city switched its water supply to the Flint River in a cost-cutting measure. The water wasn't properly treated, which caused corrosion in old pipes — leaching lead and other toxins into the city's tap water. People were afraid to drink or even bathe in the water. Since then, a lot has happened. Charges were brought against several Michigan state officials and one Flint...

Without congressional intervention, about 16,000 retired miners in seven states will lose their health care coverage by the end of the year. A proposal to temporarily extend the benefits is working its way through Congress. But two Senate Democrats, who are advocates for a more comprehensive plan, say the temporary provision isn't enough. They are threatening to hold up a spending bill that needs to pass by Friday night to keep the government running. Coal mining is dangerous work. For many...

The U.S. surgeon general said Thursday that e-cigarette use poses a significant and avoidable health risk to young people. "We already know that e-cigarettes have the potential to cause lasting harm to the health of young users," said Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. "Most contain nicotine, a highly addictive drug that can damage normal development of the brain – a process that continues until about age 25." Murthy's comments were part of a report released Thursday on rising e-cigarette use by...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: If you're the type of person who checks your work email right before bed and just as you wake up the next day, you might know the word burnout, but you may not know the story behind it. Noel King from NPR's Planet Money podcast tells us about the man who coined the term burnout and then found a sort of solution. NOEL KING, BYLINE: In the early '70s, Herbert Freudenberger had a successful psychology practice on New...

The surprise find of smallpox DNA in a child mummy from the 17th century could help scientists start to trace the mysterious history of this notorious virus. Smallpox currently only exists in secure freezers, after a global vaccination campaign eradicated the virus in the late 1970s. But much about this killer remains unknown, including its origins. Now scientists have the oldest complete set of smallpox genes, after they went hunting for viral DNA in a sample of skin from a mummified young...

One of the fundamental ways scientists measure the well-being of a nation is tracking the rate at which its citizens die and how long they can be expected to live. So the news out of the federal government Thursday is disturbing: The overall U.S. death rate has increased for the first time in a decade, according to an analysis of the latest data. And that led to a drop in overall life expectancy for the first time since 1993, particularly among people younger than 65. "This is a big deal,"...

Episode 740: Burnout

Dec 7, 2016

Exhaustion. Anxiety. Stress. Depression. Forgetfulness. Irritability. Screaming at large bodies of water. These are some symptoms of burnout. Hospitals, tech companies, schools and law firms all struggle with burnout. Companies try to fix it. But burnout is really tough to solve. Even the psychologist who coined the term "burnout" had trouble preventing it. After working around the clock, he ended up burnt out. Today on the show, why burnout is such a menace, and how a 26-year-old call center...

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