WBEZ | Clever Apes http://www.wbez.org/tags/clever-apes Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Gut check: Human intestines function like a second brain http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-24/gut-check-human-intestines-function-second-brain-95776 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2012-January/2012-01-24/Gut Feelings image.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In the latest episode of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/clever-apes" target="_blank"><em>Clever Apes</em></a>, WBEZ health and science reporter Gabriel Spitzer explained how the gut is like another brain. It may play a central role in human health, affecting everything from brain disease to obesity to cancer.<br> <br> <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2012-01-17/clever-apes-24-gut-feelings-95602">Listen to <em>Clever Apes</em> to hear the connections</a>.</p><p>And, Spitzer <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2012-01-23/clever-apes-another-gut-check-95760">explains how the human gut is its own complex and complicated world.</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 24 Jan 2012 15:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-24/gut-check-human-intestines-function-second-brain-95776 Clever Apes: Toolmakers http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2011-06-28/clever-apes-toolmakers-88461 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-June/2011-06-29/clever apes tools_Gabe Spitzer.JPG" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="A chimp at the Lincoln Park Zoo uses a stick to fish for food. " class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-28/termite fishing.JPG" style="width: 600px; height: 450px; margin: 5px;" title="A chimp at the Lincoln Park Zoo uses a stick to fish for food. "></p><p>As we human beings have come up against our limits throughout history, we’ve managed to invent tools that can overcome them. Using tools we can fly, restart a human heart, photograph galaxies and amoebae. Tools are so central to our humanity that we used to think they defined us: <a href="http://www.janegoodall.org/chimp-central-toolmakers">“Man the Toolmaker.”</a></p><p>That notion began to unravel in the 1960s, as <a href="http://www.janegoodall.org/jane-goodall">Jane Goodall </a>discovered that humans aren’t the only clever apes around. Chimps, too, make and use tools. It was an existential turning point: As Goodall sponsor Louis Leakey famously responded, “Now we have to redefine tool, redefine man, or accept chimpanzees as humans.”</p><p>That line has only gotten fuzzier since then, thanks in part to work done on chimps and gorillas at Chicago’s <a href="http://www.lpzoo.org/conservation-science/resources/staff-bios/elizabeth-v-lonsdorf-phd">Lincoln Park Zoo. </a>In this installment of Clever Apes we’ll meet a few of these crafty primates, and consider what the tools can teach us about the toolmakers.</p><p>Listen here:</p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483530-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/Clever_Apes_Toolmakers.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p>Then we’ll pivot to another tool that probes – in this case, one that analyzes art (and, it turns out, artists). It’s an <a href="http://www.amptek.com/xrf.html">X-Ray fluorescence spectrometer</a>, but we prefer to call it the “science gun.” We see it in action at the Art Institute of Chicago, thanks to conservation scientist <a href="http://www.matsci.northwestern.edu/aic/about_us.htm">Francesca Casadio</a>.</p><p>Finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the Clever Apes&nbsp;<a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/CleverApesPodcast" target="_blank" title="http://feeds.feedburner.com/CleverApesPodcast">podcast</a>, follow us on&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/cleverapes" target="_blank" title="http://twitter.com/#!/cleverapes">Twitter</a>, find us on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clever-Apes-on-WBEZ/118246851551412" target="_blank" title="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clever-Apes-on-WBEZ/118246851551412">Facebook</a>.</p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="Francesca Casadio trains her 'science gun' on a 1000-year-old Chinese sculpture." class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-28/IMG_3707.JPG" style="width: 600px; height: 450px;" title="Francesca Casadio trains her 'science gun' on a 1000-year-old Chinese sculpture."></p></p> Tue, 28 Jun 2011 19:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2011-06-28/clever-apes-toolmakers-88461 Clever Apes #8: Sense abilities http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2011-02-28/clever-apes-8-sense-abilities-83045 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/ear_coch.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;<img height="492" align="middle" width="428" title="Cochlear implants show how our senses depend on both machine and mind. " alt="Cochlear implants show how our senses depend on both machine and mind. " class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-February/2011-02-27/ear_coch.jpg" /></p><p>Our senses tell us about the world, but they also reveal a lot about ourselves. On the latest installment of Clever Apes, we find that research into <a href="http://www.utdallas.edu/~loizou/cimplants/tutorial/">cochlear implants</a> helps us understand how all hearing is really both mechanical and subjective, machine and mind. Then we meet a <a href="http://experts.uchicago.edu/experts.php?id=493">mathematical neuroscientist</a> (or would that be neuro-mathematician?) who has solved the equations behind <a href="http://thesciencenetwork.org/programs/raw-science/geometric-visual-hallucinations">visual hallucinations</a> (hint: it involves a fun romp into <a href="http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/quantum-field-theory/">quantum field theory</a>! Oh yeah, and it also may help explain cave art and religion &hellip; more on that in a future post.)</p><p><span player="null" class="filefield_audio_insert_player" id="filefield_audio_insert_player-89087" href="/sites/default/files/Clever Apes_110228_GS.mp3">Clever Apes_110228_GS.mp3</span></p><p>Meanwhile, as we discuss in the episode, cochlear implants work largely on the same principle as the vocoder (hear a fascinating history of the <a href="http://www.kraftwerkfaq.hu/equipment.html#vocoder">vocoder </a>from our colleagues at Sound Opinions). This involves encoding sound &ndash; as in, ripples in air pressure &ndash; onto a piece of white noise. The result is that familiar robotic-type sound that lovers of <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXa9tXcMhXQ">Kraftwerk </a>know so well. Dr. Valeriy Shafiro offers a fine<a href="http://www.rushu.rush.edu/cds/arl/CurrentResearch.html"> demonstration of the effect</a> at his lab's web site (heard only in Internet Explorer, I'm afraid). You can plainly hear how speech comes across much better than environmental sound.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="277" align="middle" width="369" alt="Implant patient Mary Callahan, with audiologist Dr. Valeriy Shafiro. " title="Implant patient Mary Callahan, with audiologist Dr. Valeriy Shafiro. " class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-February/2011-02-27/Mary small.JPG" /></p><p>Another Rush University researcher, <a href="http://www.rushu.rush.edu/servlet/Satellite?ParentId=1194024352668&amp;ParentType=RushUnivLevel3Page&amp;bcp=1194024350616&amp;c=RushUnivNews&amp;cid=1259591326935&amp;mHeaderImage=L2headAbt_01.png&amp;mHeaderImageOver=L2headAbt-over_01.png&amp;pagename=Rush/RushUnivNews/News_Detail_Page">Julia Cheng</a>, is doing work on cochlear implant patients' ability to appreciate music. Incidentally, Mary Callahan, the patient in the story, says she can really only appreciate music that she remembers from when she had in-tact hearing. She laments that she went deaf when Cindy Lauper's <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIb6AZdTr-A">&quot;Girls Just Want to Have Fun&quot;</a> was topping the charts, leaving her musical palate very limited. Though I have to say that Lauper has worn better than I ever would have expected.</p><p>Also, you&rsquo;ll notice Clever Apes is a tad shorter this month than in past episodes. This is part of what we hope will soon become the new-look, twice-monthly Clever Apes, heard regularly during Morning Edition and via a more robust podcast. So don&rsquo;t hate.</p><p>As always, subscribe to our <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-clever-apes/id379051174">podcast</a>, follow us on <a href="http://twitter.com/cleverapes">Twitter </a>and find us on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clever-Apes-on-WBEZ/118246851551412">Facebook</a>.</p></p> Mon, 28 Feb 2011 12:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2011-02-28/clever-apes-8-sense-abilities-83045 Developing your pain palate http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/developing-your-pain-palate <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/3413019726_3e99befc37.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img width="500" height="351" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-December/2010-12-01/3413019726_3e99befc37.jpg" alt="" title="" /></p><p style="text-align: center;"><sub><strong>The bullet ant is not to be messed with -- unless you want &quot;pure, intense, brilliant pain.&quot; (Jerry Oldenettel)</strong></sub></p><p>&ldquo;Caustic and burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.&rdquo; &ldquo;Light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.&rdquo;</p><p>You could certainly be excused if these descriptions sound like they come out of <a href="http://www.winespectator.com/ ">Wine Spectator</a>. But in fact they&rsquo;re not describing the subtle notes of a good cabernet &ndash; rather, they are trying to communicate what it feels like to be stung by a Paper Wasp and a Sweat Bee.</p><p>They&rsquo;re taken from the <a href="http://insects.about.com/od/antsbeeswasps/tp/schmidt_sting_index.htm">Schmidt Sting Pain Index</a>, invented by entomologist <a href="http://www.notesfromunderground.org/archive/vol101/members/schmidt.html">Justin O. Schmidt</a>. Each sting has a corresponding number, on a scale of one to four, indicating the degree of pain. But without doubt, it&rsquo;s the more subjective descriptions that make this (semi-) scientific instrument so interesting. And yes, he says they all come from firsthand experience.</p><p>As part of our <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/clever-apes-6-show-me-where-it-hurts">exploration of pain</a>, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/cleverapes">Clever Apes</a> chatted with Justin Schmidt about stinging insects. He explained not just what it feels like to be on the business end of a Bullet Ant (&ldquo;Like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch rusty nail in your heel.&rdquo;), but also why stinging insects tell such a <a href="http://www.entsoc.org/pubs/periodicals/ae/ae-2003/summer/Buzzwords.pdf">fascinating story of chemistry and evolution. </a></p><p>Incidentally, if you have a strong stomach, you might enjoy this <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGIZ-zUvotM">clip of a coming-of-age ritual involving bullet ants. </a>This is how one Amazonian tribe marks passage into manhood. I feel that my bar mitzvah involved similar sensations.</p></p> Thu, 02 Dec 2010 04:02:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/developing-your-pain-palate Clever Apes #6: Show me where it hurts http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/clever-apes-6-show-me-where-it-hurts <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Wong.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><img width="346" vspace="7" hspace="7" height="461" border="1" align="left" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-November/2010-11-24/Wong small.JPG" alt="" /></p><p>Pain may be the most immediate and undeniable of human experiences. And yet it&rsquo;s not obvious what it is, or where it comes from. Aristotle thought pain was basically an emotion, located in the heart. Ancient Egyptian physicians argued pain was more of a sensation, and nudged its source up to the brain. By the 19th century, science was starting to get the hang of the nervous system, and proposed there were essentially &ldquo;pain organs&rdquo; that existed to convey pain signals from the body -- say, your stubbed toe -- to the mind. (Learn more about<a href="http://www.nature.com/nrn/journal/v8/n1/abs/nrn2042.html"> historical theories about pain)</a></p><p>These days, scientists understand pain to involve all that stuff &ndash; emotions, nerves, the mind &ndash; all at once. It&rsquo;s a complex experience, giving rise to <a href="http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc071927">pain in limbs that aren&rsquo;t there anymore</a>, to <a href="http://www.apkarianlab.northwestern.edu/publications/papers.php">changes in brain circuitry</a> and strange, <a href="http://www.apkarianlab.northwestern.edu/publications/Papers/200601_small.pdf">super-senses</a>, and even to <a href="http://discovermagazine.com/2003/jun/featstung">subtle, almost lyrical characteristics</a> in something as nasty as a bee sting.</p><p>Pain has become a kind of portal into the inner life of the body and mind. In this installment of Clever Apes, we take a look inside. Listen here, or subscribe to our <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/clever-apes/id379051174">podcast</a>.&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 24 Nov 2010 19:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/clever-apes-6-show-me-where-it-hurts Clever Apes: "No really...Your spouse IS a pain" http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/clever-apes-no-reallyyour-spouse-pain <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/phpiJX8zPPM[1].jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img width="500" height="334" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-November/2010-11-18/phpiJX8zPPM.jpg" the="" in="" all="" title="Archie and Edith Bunker from CBS television series " alt="Archie and Edith Bunker" /></p><p>When we heard there was a study about the connection between marital relations and chronic pain, we couldn't help but think of classic TV shows where marriages are stressed by back pain. Archie and Edith Bunker from CBS's <em>All in the Family</em> seemed to fit the bill perfectly.&nbsp;</p><p>The&nbsp;<a href="http://www.rush.edu/">Rush University Medical Center</a>&nbsp;study is showing how pain is as much an emotional and cognitive phenomenon, as it is a medical one.&nbsp;&nbsp;Dr. John Burns, a professor of behavioral sciences at Rush, is lead investigator on the study that measures how criticism from one's spouse can affect chronic pain suffering. &nbsp;He talked to us about his work and the difference between chronic and acute pain.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 18 Nov 2010 21:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/clever-apes-no-reallyyour-spouse-pain Clever Apes: Decoding Science http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/clever-apes-decoding-science <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2010-October/2010-10-25/Clever Apes Gordon Kindlmann.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In the latest installment of <a href="http://blogs.vocalo.org/blog/clever-apes"><em>Clever Apes</em></a>, one couple struggles to bridge the divide between scientists and non-scientists.</p><p>&ldquo;I heard about your show and thought immediately of my husband, <a href="http://people.cs.uchicago.edu/~glk/">Gordon Kindlmann</a>, who is a professor at University of Chicago. I would love it if you would consider interviewing him, mostly because I am hoping you&rsquo;ll be able to explain what he actually does so that I can understand it and explain it to others.&rdquo;</p> <p>This email is how the latest installment of <em><em>Clever Apes</em> </em>came about. Gabriel Spitzer&nbsp;took up Anne Dodge&rsquo;s challenge, and attempted to understand and get across Gordon&rsquo;s esoteric research &mdash; which turns out to be both practical, and maybe even inspiring.</p></p> Mon, 25 Oct 2010 17:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/clever-apes-decoding-science Clever Apes #5: Decoding science http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/clever-apes-5-decoding-science <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2010-October/2010-10-25/Pez.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img height="306" width="400" title="" alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-October/2010-10-26/Pez small.jpg" /></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong><sup>Gordon's pez: Tensor glyphs baffle a spouse, who calls Clever Apes for help. (Image courtesy of Gordon Kindlmann)</sup></strong></p><p>&quot;I heard about your show and thought immediately of my husband, Gordon Kindlmann, who is a professor at <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placetype w:st="on">University</st1:placetype> of <st1:placename w:st="on">Chicago</st1:placename></st1:place>. I would love it if you would consider interviewing him, mostly because I am hoping you&rsquo;ll be able to explain what he actually does so that I can understand it and explain it to others.&rdquo;</p><p>This email is how the latest installment of Clever Apes came about. I took up Anne Dodge&rsquo;s challenge, and attempted to understand and get across Gordon&rsquo;s esoteric research &mdash; which turns out to be both practical, and, I would argue, even inspiring.</p><p>&nbsp;<img height="300" width="400" title="" alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-October/2010-10-26/Anne Gordon small.jpg" /></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong><sup>Anne Dodge and Gordon Kindlmann look to bridge the communication gap. (Gabriel Spitzer / WBEZ)</sup></strong></p><p>If you&rsquo;ve ever felt like scientists speak a different language from the rest of us, this one is for you.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 25 Oct 2010 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/clever-apes-5-decoding-science Clever Apes: Light sabers and a fish choir http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/clever-apes-light-sabers-and-fish-choir <p><p style="text-align: center; "><a href="/gspitzer/2010/10/clever-apes-light-sabers-and-a-fish-choir/40289 /img_5901" rel="attachment wp-att-40323"><img alt="" class="size-full wp-image-40323" height="290" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//IMG_5901.jpg" title="IMG_5901" width="387"></a></p><p style="text-align: center; "><strong><sup>Malcolm MacIver with one of his weakly electric fish. He's colaborating on an art installation with Marlena Novak and Jay Alan Yim, called "<em>Scale," </em>opening in Europe. (Gabriel Spitzer / WBEZ)</sup></strong></p><p>One of the things I've discovered meeting all these clever apes is that the boundary between science and art is a porous one. Science is a highly creative pursuit -- it depends on discovering new connections, making guesses about mysterious gaps in our knowledge and then imagining possible outcomes. In some ways, even science fiction is born of the same impulse as rigorous science. <!--break--></p><p>In that spirit, I'll be joined tonight on stage at <a href="http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2010/10/science-of-films.html">Northwestern University</a> by four preeminent scientists to discuss how their fields, and science in general, are portrayed on the big screen. It's called <a href="http://www.wbez.org/Event_Detail.aspx?eventID=2094">"Mutants, Andriods and Cyborgs: The Science of Pop Culture Films."</a> We'll screen some great moments form sci-fi cinema, and talk light sabers, genetic master races, mind-wiping and, of course, robots. Still some seats left!</p><p>One of the experts joining us is <a href="http://www.neuromech.northwestern.edu/">Malcolm MacIver</a>, who works at the intersection of biology, robotics, neuroscience and engineering. Much of his work centers around weakly electric fish, for reasons that may not at first be terribly obvious. These animals provide a tailor-made model for studying neural responses to stimuli.</p><p>And they have another property, which inspired an extracurricular activity.&nbsp;Click the <strong><em>listen</em></strong> link above to learn about <em><a href="http://mccormick.northwestern.edu/news/archives/571">Scale</a></em>, an art installation made up of a choir of weakly electric fish. Visitors will be able to "conduct" the choir with a modified Wii-mote.&nbsp;It debuts next month in the Netherlands, but I'm pulling for a stateside showing soon.</p></p> Wed, 20 Oct 2010 08:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/clever-apes-light-sabers-and-fish-choir Clever Apes: This nonagenarian did more than you did today. http://www.wbez.org/gspitzer/2010/09/clever-apes-this-nonagenarian-did-more-than-you-did-today/37936 <p><p><a href="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//P1060175.jpg"><img height="300" width="225" alt="" title="P1060175" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-37939" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//P1060175-225x300.jpg" /></a></p><div>&nbsp;</div><p>This month's installment centers mainly on one clever ape in particular -- neuroscientist <a href="http://www.stritch.luc.edu/depts/pharmacology/deptweb/karczmar_a/ndx_f1_dept.cfm">Alexander G. Karczmar</a>. As listeners learn in the story, Karczmar is one of the world authorities on cholinergic pathways -- the network in our brains that communicates via one particular chemical, called <a href="http://www.brainexplorer.org/neurological_control/neurological_neurotransmitters.shtml">acetylcholine</a>. It was actually the <a href="http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1936/press.html">first to be positively identified as a neurotransmitter</a>. That system is implicated in all kinds of human characteristics, from aggressive behaviors to addiction to basic awareness of what we think of as &quot;reality.&quot; <!--break--> Nicky (as Dr. Karczmar is known) could talk about cholinergic pathways all day long (he <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=NhGBFdSNijkC&amp;printsec=frontcover&amp;dq=alexander+karczmar&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=Aer32-2pT4&amp;sig=CLmazqNlyOGoEuZDoG__nFM7Jyw&amp;hl=en&amp;ei=3tCcTNvHHoH_8AbZxIDWDw&amp;sa=X&amp;oi=book_result&amp;ct=result&amp;resnum=2&amp;ved=0CBoQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&amp;q&amp;f=false">wrote the book on it</a> in 2007, at age 90). At our lunch at the Japanese restaurant (heard in the story), we spent a great deal of time discussing cholinergic alert non-mobile behavior and drug-resistance in mouse models of schizophrenia &quot;&brvbar; only to have Nicky lament at the meal's end, &quot;But we didn't even get to talk about the science!&quot; This solicited groans from his wife, son and daughter-in-law.</p><p><a href="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//IMG_3135.jpg"><img height="225" width="300" alt="" title="IMG_3135" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-37941" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//IMG_3135-300x225.jpg" /></a></p><div>&nbsp;</div><p>Meanwhile, acetylcholine also brought together Karczmar and his chum <a href="http://nuin.northwestern.edu/nuin-content/faculty-records/marsel-mesulam">Marsel Mesulam</a>, who has done <a href="http://www.acnp.org/g4/gn401000012/ch012.html">influential work mapping the network</a>. Mesulam, as we hear, also runs the Alzheimer's lab at Northwestern that's conducting the Super Agers study (here is <a href="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//RogalskiAHJC_2010SuperAging_Spitzer.pdf">some info on it from his colleague, Dr. Emily Rogalski</a>). They've recruited about 40 people so far, each of whom undergoes clinical evaluations to test their mental acuity. They also get their brains imaged and blood drawn. Then, finally, they agree to donate their brains after death. These brains are housed in the Alzheimer's Center's brain bank, seen above with Prof. Changiz Geula.</p></p> Mon, 27 Sep 2010 15:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/gspitzer/2010/09/clever-apes-this-nonagenarian-did-more-than-you-did-today/37936