NYU neuroscientists studied differences in the brain rhythms of musicians and non-musicians listening to Bach and Beethoven, and raised questions about the effectiveness of repetitive drills designed for autistic learners. Steinhardt researchers found that extracurricular sports and community service projects—more than school programs or religious activities—were linked to good grades for middle schoolers. NYU biologists identified a variation in a single gene that makes male worms sexually attractive to other male worms.

School of Law and environmental studies scholars cautioned that certain countries are (incorrectly) interpreting the term “rational use” as a license for unrestricted fishing in the Antarctic, while NYU physicists used a robotic “school” to model the group dynamics of fish swimming together at slow and fast speeds. Neuroscientist Michael Halassa and colleagues contributed evidence to the theory that the thalamic reticular nucleus serves as the “switchboard” that allows the brain to multitask.

Courant’s Charles Newman and colleagues mapped out a universal dynamic that explains the production and distribution of proteins in a cell. College of Nursing researchers found serious liver damage due to untreated hepatitis C to be prevalent among middle-aged people who inject drugs. Langone Medical Center researchers noted that teens who used e-cigarettes or hookahs were 2.5 more likely to smoke regular cigarettes later in life, that insulin heightens the release of dopamine in the pleasure centers of the brain, and that many physicians treating severe acne delay far too long in switching patients from ineffective antibiotics to the more potent pill formerly known as Acutane.

Contemplating the planet’s “cosmic cycle of death and destruction,” geologist Michael Rampino concluded that comet and asteroid showers killed the dinosaurs—and caused five other mass extinctions over the past 260 million years.