Your Brain on Music (start time: 6:18): Most people love music, whether it’s opera music, jazz, rock-n-roll, gospel, nursery rhymes or another genre. Whether you’re a trained professional or someone who just likes to sing in the shower or listen to your favorite playlists, you’ve likely felt the power of music in shaping your thoughts, feelings and behavior. But how?
Many scientists have been researching how music affects the human brain, and how music can help treat many neurological and other disorders. Today, host Susan Moran interviews Indre Viskontas, a cognitive neuroscientist and associate professor of psychology at the University of San Francisco. She’s also a classically trained opera singer and a director. Her 2019 book is How Music Can Make You Better. And Dr. Viskontas also directs communications for the Sound Health Network, an initiative that promotes research and public awareness of the impact of music on health and well-being. She also hosts a podcast called Inquiring Minds.
Host, Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Shannon Young Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
We offer two feature interviews on this week’s show:
Health Impacts of Wildfire Smoke (start time: 4:22) It’s peak wildfire season. Smoke from forest and grass fires contains particulates that can irritate eyes, throat and lungs — especially in children, the elderly, and people already suffering from asthma, allergies, heart disease. How On Earth host Susan Moran interviews Anthony Gerber, MD/PhD, a pulmonologist and an associate professor of medicine at National Jewish Health and the University of Colorado, Denver, about the medical risks of breathing smokey air and what people can do to minimize the impact. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment also offers info and warnings on air quality in Colorado.
Detained Migrant Children Suffer Medically (start time: 17:02) Since April, when the Trump administration’s controversial zero-tolerance policy went into effect to crack down on families crossing the border illegally, more than 2,300 migrant children have been separated from their parents and detained in government detention centers. More recently, about 200 of the children have been reunited with their parents, but bulk of them have not. As a result, many of the children suffer from physical and mental health problems. Colleen Kraft, a pediatrician and president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, talks with host Susan Moran about the medical impacts on migrant children.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
Your Brain on Nature (start time: 5:49): You may think it’s a no-brainer: that nature is good for your mental and physical health. After all, a walk in the woods or even an urban park brightens your outlook on life, at least for a little while. Turns out, the notion that being outside in nature boosts our mood, and even our creativity, has historical roots at least as deep as Aristotle. A new book by journalist Florence Williams explores the history of our biophilia, and particularly emerging neuroscience that reveals just how our bodies and minds are affected by getting out in the natural world. The book is called The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative (Norton, 2017). The book stemmed from an article Williams wrote in National Geographic. A former Boulder resident, Williams will return to Boulder to give a talk about her book on Tuesday, February 28th, at the Boulder Book Store, at 7:30 p.m. She’ll also speak in Denver, on Wednesday, March 1st, at Tattered Cover Book Store, at 7:00 p.m.
Hosts: Maeve Conran, Susan Moran Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Maeve Conran Executive Producer: Joel Parker Additional contributions: Beth Bennett, Joel Parker, Shelley Schlender
This week on How on Earth host Susan Moran interviews two investigators of FDA-approved clinical trials testing the efficacy and safety of the illegal drug MDMA — known in an altered form as Ecstasy or Molly — as a treatment (along with psychotherapy sessions) for Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Our guests are Marcela Ot’alora and Bruce Poulter, investigators of the Colorado trial. Marcela is a licensed psychotherapist and Bruce is a registered nurse with a masters degree in public health
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that affects up to one in 12 people in the United States, and it’s at least as common in some other countries. It is a serious, and costly, public health problem. If the trials are successful, MDMA, which has its critics, could become commercially available as a medically prescribed treatment by 2021. The trials are being funded by a nonprofit organization, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which promotes careful and beneficial uses of psychedelics and marijuana.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Joel Parker