HUMAN BEHAVIOR

Internet freedom is on the decline for the seventh consecutive year as governments around the world take to distorting information on social media in order to influence elections, a new report says.

The nongovernmental organization Freedom House released its annual Freedom on the Net report this week, which found that online "manipulation and disinformation tactics played an important role" in elections in 18 countries, including the U.S.

Erin Valentino.
Joyce Skowyra / NEPR

I was having lunch with friends when one of them asked me if I was healthy. I didn’t know how to answer.

The number of hate crimes reported last year rose by 4.6 percent compared to the previous year, according to data released Monday by the FBI.

The total tally of hate crimes in 2016 was 6,121, compared to 5,850 in 2015. More than half of those incidents were motivated by the victim's race.

The FBI statistics are based on voluntary reporting by nearly 16,000 local law-enforcement agencies. Civil-rights groups, however, say the figures are deeply flawed because of what they say is systemic under-reporting.

Slime mold
Aldyn Markle

Academics in Amherst, Massachusetts, have jumped on an unusual source of scientific -- and existential -- investigation: a brainless amoeba known as slime mold.

Abigail Morris (left) from Amherst, Mass., with Alyssa Helton from Whitesburg, Kentucky.
Karen Brown / New England Public Radio

After the last election, many people felt inspired to mend the country's deep divisions. So when a group of liberal activists in Leverett, Massachusetts, learned that a more conservative community in Letcher County, Kentucky, was open to a cultural exchange, they started to organize.

People who are thinking about killing themselves appear to have distinctive brain activity that can now be measured by a computer.

In these people, words like "death" and "trouble" produce a distinctive "neural signature" not found in others, scientists report in the journal Nature Human Behaviour. More than 44,000 people commit suicide in the U.S. each year.

Black leaders have condemned the Russian efforts in the 2016 election cycle that apparently sought to divide African-Americans both from whites and from each other, but nothing about those efforts is new.

Russian and Soviet influence-mongers have spent decades pressing as hard as they can on the most painful areas of the American body politic, from the days of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the current era of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Why We All Scream When We Get Ice Cream Brain Freeze

Jul 31, 2017

Ah, the brain freeze — the signature pain of summer experienced by anyone who has eaten an ice cream cone with too much enthusiasm or slurped down a slushie a little too quickly.

But have you ever stopped mid-freeze to think about why our bodies react like this?

Well, researchers who study pain have, and some, like Dr. Kris Rau of the University of Louisville in Kentucky, say it's a good way to understand the basics of how we process damaging stimuli.

But first, a lesson in terminology.