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  • Year in Review

    Zapping the spinal cord helped paralyzed people learn to move again

    The spinal cord can make a comeback.

    Intensive rehabilitation paired with electric stimulation of the spinal cord allowed six paralyzed people to walk or take steps years after their injuries, three small studies published this year showed.

    “There’s a capacity here of human spinal circuitry to be able to regain significant motor control and function,” says Susan Harkema, a...

    12/17/2018 - 08:19 Neuroscience
  • Year in Review

    Human smarts got a surprisingly early start

    Archaeological discoveries reported this year broadened the scope of what scientists know about Stone Age ingenuity. These finds move the roots of innovative behavior ever closer to the origins of the human genus, Homo.

    Example No. 1 came from Kenya’s Olorgesailie Basin, where fickle rainfall apparently led to a wave of ancient tool and trading advances (SN: 4/14/18, p. 8). Frequent...

    12/17/2018 - 08:18 Anthropology, Archaeology, Human Evolution
  • Scicurious

    Sometimes a failure to replicate a study isn’t a failure at all

    As anyone who has ever tried a diet knows, exerting willpower can be exhausting. After a whole day spent carefully avoiding the snack machine and attempting to take mindful joy in plain baked chicken and celery sticks, the siren call of cookies after dinner may be just too much to bear. This idea — that exercising self-control gets harder the more you have to do it — is called ego depletion,...

    12/16/2018 - 07:00 Psychology
  • Science News for Educators

    NEW! Science News for Educators

    Science News is the world’s best briefing on the latest science and research. Our new educator’s subscription includes a teaching guide for each issue published during the school year (see sample here). Packed with questions, classroom activities and additional readings, Science News for Educators lets you introduce real science into your classrooms.

    ...

    12/14/2018 - 14:26
  • News

    New research may upend what we know about how tornadoes form

    WASHINGTON — Tornadoes may form from the ground up, rather than the top down. 

    That could sound counterintuitive. Many people may picture a funnel cloud emerging from the bottom of a dark mass of thunderstorms and then extending to the ground, atmospheric scientist Jana Houser said December 13 in a news conference at the American Geophysical Union meeting.

    Scientists have long...

    12/14/2018 - 14:06 Climate
  • News

    Endangered northern bettongs aren’t picky truffle eaters

    A small endangered marsupial with a taste for truffles may be a linchpin in one kind of Australian forest — and the evidence is in the animal’s poop.

    Northern bettongs feast on truffles, the meaty, spore-producing parts of certain fungi. Plenty of animals eat a selection of these subterranean orbs from time to time. But analyses of the scat from northern bettongs (Bettongia tropica)...

    12/14/2018 - 13:21 Animals, Conservation
  • News

    Counting the breaths of wild porpoises reveals their revved-up metabolism

    By counting harbor porpoise breaths, researchers have come up with a new way to judge the animals’ hard-to-measure metabolism. The trick shows that the animals can burn energy more than twice as fast as humans.

    Researchers analyzed the several thousand puff-huff respiratory sounds recorded per day from each of 13 harbor porpoises swimming freely in Danish waters. Including just everyday...

    12/14/2018 - 06:00 Animals, Physiology, Conservation
  • News

    Big data reveals hints of how, when and where mental disorders start

    Psychiatric disorders’ many complexities have stymied scientists looking for clear genetic culprits. But a new giant dataset holds clues to how, when and where these brain disorders begin.

    Called PsychENCODE, the project’s first large data release has revealed intricate insights into the behavior of genes and the stretches of genetic material between them in both healthy brains and those...

    12/13/2018 - 14:49 Neuroscience, Genetics
  • News

    Corn domestication took some unexpected twists and turns

    Corn eaten around the world today originated via a surprisingly long and complex process that started in what’s now southern Mexico around 9,000 years ago, a new study finds.

    People brought a forerunner of present-day corn plants, also known as maize, to South America from Mexico more than 6,500 years ago. Those plants still contained many genes from maize’s wild ancestor, teosinte, say...

    12/13/2018 - 14:00 Archaeology, Plants
  • News in Brief

    Here’s a rare way that an Alzheimer’s protein can spread

    An Alzheimer’s protein found in contaminated vials of human growth hormone can spread in the brains of mice. That finding, published online December 13 in Nature, adds heft to the idea that, in very rare cases, amyloid-beta can travel from one person’s brain to another’s.

    Decades ago, over a thousand young people in the United Kingdom received injections of growth hormone derived from...

    12/13/2018 - 11:00 Neuroscience