February 24, 2016

Your Brain on Movies, Pt. 2

The Human Brain: Episode #3

Imagine a scene in a movie in which two people are having a conversation. First you see one person talking, and then the other. You see a close-up of some detail, and then a far-away view of the whole room. These rapid shifts in perspective don't happen in real life, yet our eyes and brains seem to have no problem keeping up. How can this be true? Jeff Zacks, author of Flicker: Your Brain on Movies, again joins Hold That Thought to discuss how our brains react to film.

February 17, 2016

Understanding Alzheimer's

The Human Brain: Episode #2

According to the National Institute on Aging, experts estimate that more than five million people in the United States have Alzheimer's disease, a condition that damages memory and cognitive function. Dr. David Holtzman - Professor and Chairman of the neurology department at the Washington University School of Medicine, and associate director of the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Alzheimer's Disease Research Center - explains what is happening in the brain of someone with Alzheimer's. He also describes his own laboratory's research into the disease and shares why he believes that it should be treatable.

A version of this podcast was first released in 2012 in our series on Memory.

February 10, 2016

The New Anthropology of Love

Valentine's Day 2016

Love and desire are deeply personal, right? And when we fall in love with someone, it's because there's something unique and innate in them that matches with something unique and innate in us, right? Actually, neither of these things are as true as you think, according to Dredge Byung'chu Kang, a cultural anthropologist and a post-doctoral fellow in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. He discusses some national and global relationship trends, including data from online dating sites, that reveal how society and political economy shape what we consider intimate. He also shares one case in Thailand where love breaks the rule.

February 3, 2016

Your Brain on Movies, Pt. 1

The Human Brain: Episode #1

Ever find yourself crying at a cheesy movie that you don't even like very much? Or catch yourself ducking and flinching during an action flick, even though you're perfectly safe in a movie theater, munching popcorn? Jeffrey Zacks, professor of psychological and brain sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, shares some of the reasons why. Zacks is author of Flicker: Your Brain on Movies.

January 26, 2016

Violence and Memory

International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2016

How should we remember historical moments of violence and loss? What are the links between terrible events like the Holocaust, the mass casualties of World War I, the Armenian Genocide, and crises around the world today? What challenges do historians face as they examine and interpret death and war?

Anika Walke and Jay Winter both face such questions and issues in their research. Here, the two historians candidly discuss the process of seeking meaning in history, as well as the personal motivations behind their work. Winter, the Charles J. Stille Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University, has published numerous books on World War I. His public history efforts include serving as co-producer and lead historian of the Emmy-winning PBS series “The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century." Walke, an assistant professor of history at Washington University in St. Louis, is author of Pioneers and Partisans: An Oral History of Nazi Genocide in Belorussia.

January 20, 2016

How to Control Your Emotions

New Year 2016

Are you a "think on the bright side" person, who always has a positive outlook? Or do you sometimes find it hard to control what you feel and how you express those feelings? Tammy English, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences and director of the Emotion and Relationships Laboratory at Washington University in St. Louis, studies emotion regulation. Here she discusses some common successful strategies for managing emotions and working toward long-term happiness.


January 13, 2016

How to Strengthen Your Willpower

New Year 2016

It's mid-January, that time of year when a person's zeal to start fresh in the new year might be starting to fade. But don't give up on your resolutions quite yet! Psychologist Tim Bono has some research-proven tips for how to successfully build willpower. Bono, an assistant dean in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, teaches the popular course Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness.


December 10, 2015

Remembering Baghdad

Going Global: Episode #11

How do you remember home? Nancy Berg, a professor of Hebrew and comparative literature, examines this question as it relates to Jewish writers from Iraq. In the mid-twentieth century, the thriving Jewish community in modern-day Baghdad quickly came to an end. Years later, those who experienced life in Baghdad - and also the children of those exiled - turned to literature to share their memories. Berg shares some of these authors and stories and describes the vibrant cultural scene brought to life in these works.


November 11, 2015

Islam, Immigration, and What It Means to Be French

Going Global: Episode #9

The following podcast was released just days before the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris. As the attacks continue to shape attitudes about the migrant crisis, we hope the podcast can provide some helpful context and history. For updated commentary from John Bowen, please see his op-ed in the Los Angeles Times.

In 2015 alone, hundreds of thousands of migrants have fled war-torn Syria and elsewhere and made their way to Europe. While many Europeans have welcomed the refugees, some countries have expressed reluctance to accept Muslim asylum seekers. When thinking about the ongoing crisis, anthropologist John Bowen sees a discouraging consistency with the larger history of Islam and immigration in Europe, particularly in France. Here he talks about that history and and how Europe, and France in particular, can best move forward.