18-44 Segment 2: The Surprising Importance of Tickling

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Tickling is a unique application of the sense of touch that surprisingly has developmental and cultural importance. Experts discuss the science and sociology of tickling.


  • Dr. David Linden, Professor of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and author, Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart and Mind
  • Dr. Robert Provine, Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience, University of Maryland, Baltimore County and author, Curious Behavior: Yawning, Laughing, Hiccupping, and Beyond 

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17-38 Segment 1: Cutting Nicotine in Cigarettes


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In the last fifty years, the number of people who smoke has gone down tremendously, but smoking accounts for one in every five deaths in America. The FDA wants to lower this by mandating a cut in the amount of nicotine in cigarettes. But will this merely encourage smokers to find alternate sources of nicotine?

According to Dr. Eric Donny, if an eighty-five percent reduction of nicotine happens in cigarettes, w will see fewer smokers smoking, and fewer kids getting addicted. Dr. Neal Benowitz says that the plan to lower nicotine in cigarettes might lead some to find a “healthier” alternative like e-cigarettes. Dr. Joshua Sharfstein says that e-cigarettes have been in the middle of a great debate, with some asking whether they are a great tool to quit smoking or a gateway substance for kids to try real cigarettes. The reduction might push people to cleaner forms of nicotine consumption, perhaps even quitting smoking.

Dr. Stanton Glantz, says that this reduction is not good for the future because it pushes back regulation of e-cigarettes. Dr. Glantz believes the FDA is overselling the reduction in cigarettes and giving e-cigarettes a pass on nicotine regulation. Some also think that this would create a black market of full-strength cigarettes. Dr. Glantz does think this is a step in the right direction, even though it does not solve the problem.

America is not the only country that is considering this. Dr. Benowitz says that Canada and New Zealand have been talking about a reduction too. Any one country starting this could create a domino effect on the whole world, leading not just to a healthier country, but a healthier world.


  • Dr. Eric Donny, Director, Center for Evaluation of Nicotine and Cigarettes, University of Pittsburgh
  • Dr. Neal Benowitz, Professor of Medicine and Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences and Chief, Division of Pharmacology, University of California, San Francisco
  • Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Professor of the Practice, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and former FDA Deputy Commissioner
  • Dr. Stanton Glantz, Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco and Director, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.

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16-04 Segment 1: ICU PTSD


Synopsis: A surprisingly high percentage of people who’ve been treated in intensive care units later suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, often including hallucinations recalling horrible ICU incidents. This has led to coining a new syndrome–PICS, or post intensive care syndrome. Experts discuss why the syndrome appears to occur and what’s being done to treat and prevent it.

Host: Reed Pence. Guests: Dr. Joe Bienvenu, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University; Dr. James Jackson, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Vanderbilt University

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15-36 Segment 1: Liquid Biopsies


Synopsis: Cancer biopsies traditionally require surgery to remove a piece of tumor. But doctors are increasingly able to find evidence of cancer in the blood, eliminating the need for surgery. Researchers hope to eventually be able to use these liquid biopsies for cancer screening and early diagnosis. Experts discuss.

Host: Reed Pence. Guests: Dr. Nicholas Papadopoulos, Professor of Oncology, Johns Hopkins University; Dr. Scott Kopetz, Associate Professor of Medical Oncology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; Dr. Terry Friedlander, Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco

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15-18 Story 2: Training Doctors How To Communicate


Synopsis: Doctors too often use language that’s indeceipherable to normal people. Efforts are underway at medical schools to teach doctors to speak in plain language. An expert at one such school and a participant in these classes discuss.

Host: Nancy Benson. Guests: Dr. Evonne Kaplan-Liss, Assoc. Prof. of Preventive Medicine, Stony Brook Univ.; Ashwin Mahotra, medical student, Stony Brook Univ.; Dr. Zack Berger, Asst. Prof. of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Univ. and author, Talking to Your Doctor: A Patient’s Guide to Communication in the Exam Room 

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