Jon Hamilton

Jon Hamilton is a correspondent for NPR's Science Desk. Currently he focuses on neuroscience, health risks, and extreme weather.

Following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Hamilton was part of NPR's team of science reporters and editors who went to Japan to cover the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

Hamilton contributed several pieces to the Science Desk series "The Human Edge," which looked at what makes people the most versatile and powerful species on Earth. His reporting explained how humans use stories, how the highly evolved human brain is made from primitive parts, and what autism reveals about humans social brains.

In 2009, Hamilton received the Michael E. DeBakey Journalism Award for his piece on the neuroscience behind treating autism.

Before joining NPR in 1998, Hamilton was a media fellow with the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation studying health policy issues. He reported on states that have improved their Medicaid programs for the poor by enrolling beneficiaries in private HMOs.

From 1995-1997, Hamilton wrote on health and medical topics as a freelance writer, after having been a medical reporter for both The Commercial Appeal and Physician's Weekly.

Hamilton graduated with honors from Oberlin College in Ohio with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. As a student, he was the editor of the Oberlin Review student newspaper. He earned his master's degree in journalism from Columbia University, where he graduated with honors During his time at Columbia, Hamilton was awarded the Baker Prize for magazine writing and earned a Sherwood traveling fellowship.

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3:27am

Thu July 10, 2014
Shots - Health News

Bingeing On Bad News Can Fuel Daily Stress

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 3:34 pm

Katherine Streeter for NPR

If you're feeling stressed these days, the news media may be partly to blame.

At least that's the suggestion of a national survey conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

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4:06pm

Tue June 17, 2014
Shots - Health News

Your Brain's Got Rhythm, And Syncs When You Think

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 4:47 pm

"Dance for PD" classes use music to temporarily ease tremors and get Parkinson's patients moving.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Even if you can't keep a beat, your brain can. "The brain absolutely has rhythm," says Nathan Urban, a neuroscientist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

When you concentrate, Urban says, your brain produces rapid, rhythmic electrical impulses called gamma waves. When you relax, it generates much slower alpha waves.

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4:36pm

Mon June 2, 2014
Shots - Health News

Bursts Of Light Create Memories, Then Take Them Away

Originally published on Tue June 3, 2014 4:38 pm

Katherine Streeter for NPR

You can't just open up a living brain and see the memories inside.

So Roberto Malinow, a brain scientist at the University of California, San Diego, has spent years trying to find other ways to understand how memories are made and lost. The research — right now being done in rats – should lead to a better understanding of human memory problems ranging from Alzheimer's to post-traumatic stress disorder.

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3:33am

Mon June 2, 2014
Shots - Health News

Pregnancy Hormone May Reduce Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

Originally published on Tue June 3, 2014 11:30 am

A collage of family photos of Melissa Sherak Glasser.
Mark Turner for NPR

For decades, women with multiple sclerosis have noticed that they tend to do better while they are pregnant. That has led to an experimental drug for the disease that's based on a hormone associated with pregnancy.

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2:08am

Tue May 27, 2014
Shots - Health News

Military Plans To Test Brain Implants To Fight Mental Disorders

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 1:35 pm

In epilepsy, the normal behavior of brain neurons is disturbed. The drug valproic acid appears to help the brain replenish a key chemical, preventing seizures.
David Mack/Science Source

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, is launching a $70 million program to help military personnel with psychiatric disorders using electronic devices implanted in the brain.

The goal of the five-year program is to develop new ways of treating problems including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, all of which are common among service members who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan.

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4:34pm

Thu May 22, 2014
Science

NOAA Predicts Relatively Quiet Atlantic Hurricane Season

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 6:46 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. Optimism and hurricanes are not words we usually utter together, but the Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1st, and today government forecasters offered some cautious optimism. They are expecting a relatively quiet year. Here's NPR's Jon Hamilton.

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4:03pm

Thu May 8, 2014
Shots - Health News

Anti-Aging Hormone Could Make You Smarter

Originally published on Thu May 8, 2014 7:49 pm

Klotho (right) is one of the three Greek Fates depicted in this Flemish tapestry at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Wikimedia Commons

A hormone associated with longevity also appears to make people's brains work better.

The finding in Cell Reports could someday lead to drugs that improve memory and learning, researchers say.

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4:25pm

Mon May 5, 2014
Science

Max Planck Goes To Florida, Invites Brain Scientists To Join

Originally published on Mon May 5, 2014 6:35 pm

Germany's famous Max Planck Society has opened a brain research institute in Jupiter, Fla. It's another move in the international competition to attract the best brain researchers.

4:36pm

Wed April 23, 2014
Shots - Health News

Education May Help Insulate The Brain Against Traumatic Injury

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 7:24 am

Proust and algebra may not sound like brain protection, but higher levels of education correlate with cognitive reserve.
iStockphoto

A little education goes a long way toward ensuring you'll recover from a serious traumatic brain injury. In fact, people with lots of education are seven times more likely than high school dropouts to have no measurable disability a year later.

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4:37pm

Fri April 18, 2014
Shots - Health News

One Scientist's Quest To Vanquish Epileptic Seizures

Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 7:13 pm

The dream of epilepsy research, says neurobiologist Ivan Soltesz, is to stop seizures by manipulating only some brain cells, not all.
Steve Zylius UC Irvine Communications

In the early 1990s, a young brain researcher named Ivan Soltesz heard a story that would shape his career.

His adviser told him about a school for children whose epileptic seizures were so severe and frequent that they had to wear helmets to prevent head injuries. The only exception to the helmet rule was for students who received an award.

"The big deal for them is that they can take the helmet off while they're walking across the stage," Soltesz says. "And that thing struck me as just wrong."

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