Findings from the past month.
This month, NYU anthropologists found that brain size in primates is predicted by diet of foraged fruit—calling into question the “social brain hypothesis,” which has posited that humans and other primates ended up with big brains because of their social behavior.
In education, researchers found that children—especially those from low-income families—who watched more than a couple hours of TV per day suffered in math skills and executive function when they got to kindergarten. Despite having the strongest academic support from parents, teachers, and friends (and being stereotyped as a “model minority), second-generation Asian American adolescents were found to benefit much less from this support than others, possibly because they experienced it as pressure.
By studying mice’s use of whiskers to sense their surroundings, Langone neuroscientists became the first to show the “switchboard” role of somatostatin-expressing interneurons in the brain’s cerebral cortex. Also in medicine, researchers used genetic analysis to tailor treatment for uterine cancers, showed that smokers enrolled in smoking cessation programs before knee or hip replacements had better outcomes after surgery, and found that a drug already used to slow tumor growth may also prevent the infertility caused by standard chemotherapies. A global research team built five new synthetic yeast chromosomes, meaning that 30 percent of the organism’s genetic material has now been swapped out for engineered replacements.
Researchers at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering have teamed up with those from the university’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing to develop a machine-learning algorithm that could help detect lymphedema—a disease of the lymphatic system characterized by the swelling of arms or legs—before doctors are able to. Steinhardt music therapists partnered with Langone’s Rusk Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine on a group music-making intervention that reduced upper limb impairment and improved overall well-being among stroke survivors.
Rory Meyers researchers found that almost three-quarters of nurses volunteer to promote health in their communities on their own time. Twenty-six of 80 hair samples collected from young adults outside of New York City nightclubs and dance festivals tested positive for new psychoactive substances.