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Welcome, Spring — And More Importantly, Playoff Hockey

Apr 18, 2014 (All Things Considered) — Among NHL fans, there's a favorite adage: "There's nothing like playoff hockey." The start of this year's playoffs has been no exception. Sportswriter Stefan Fatsis comments on the first few games.

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

One Scientist's Quest To Vanquish Epileptic Seizures

Apr 18, 2014 (All Things Considered)

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

His advisor 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."

Today, Soltesz runs a lab at the University of California, Irvine, and he's taken some big steps toward helping people with uncontrolled seizures. Epilepsy drugs aren't enough, he says. For about a third of patients with epilepsy, they just don't work. And for many others, they have major drawbacks.

"The big problem with current medications is precisely that the medication is everywhere in the brain," Soltesz says. "It's affecting virtually all the cells all the time." That is one reason epilepsy drugs often cause side effects like fatigue, dizziness, and blurred vision.

So Soltesz, with major funding from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, has been looking for a way to stop seizures without drugs. "The dream of epilepsy research is really to intervene only when the seizures are occurring and only manipulating some cells but not all of the cells," he says. And Soltesz has done that — in mice.

Seizures occur when brain cells start firing abnormally and rapidly, like a car speeding out of control. Soltesz found a way to spot the first signs of trouble. Then, using a technique called optogenetics, he delivered a pulse of light that activated the brain's own system for slowing down runaway cells.

"We either decreased the activity of the gas pedal or increased the activity of the brake," he says. "And through both ways we succeeded in making the seizures stop when the light came on."

The approach only works in animals with brain cells that have been genetically altered. But a similar approach could be used to stop epileptic seizures in people, Soltesz says.

And that day may not be far off. President Obama's BRAIN initiative, announced a year ago, has made finding better treatment for epilepsy one of its priorities. Also, late last year the Food and Drug Administration approved the first implanted device that delivers electrical stimulation to the brain when cells begin firing abnormally.

This device can reduce seizures. And Soltesz hopes that future implanted devices will be able to stop seizures entirely in people with severe epilepsy, including children who must wear "seizure helmets."

"Imagine if those kids could just take the helmet off because they know that the seizures would be stopped with this new intervention," Soltesz says. "That would be just simply fantastic."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Donald Fagen (left) and Walter Becker of Steely Dan. (Courtesy of the artist)

Steely Dan On Piano Jazz

Apr 18, 2014

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In Steely Dan, guitarist Walter Becker and singer-pianist Donald Fagen are masters of irony and erudition. They grew up listening to Bill Evans, Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington. Since the late 1960s, they have been a musical Rubik's Cube, continually honing their integration of jazz and rock. The pair performs Steely Dan hits "Josie" and "Chain Lightning" as well as standards "Mood Indigo" and "Hesitation Blues."

Originally recorded July 23, 2002. Originally aired in 2003.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Set List

  • "Limbo Jazz" (D. Ellington)
  • "Josie" (Fagen, Becker)
  • "Mood Indigo" (D. Ellington, Bigard, Mills)
  • "Star Eyes" (De Paul, Raye)
  • "Hesitating Blues" (W.C. Handy)
  • "Things Ain't the Way They Used to Be" (M. Ellington, Persons)
  • "Chain Lightning" (Fagen, Becker)
  • "Black Friday" (Fagen, Becker)

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Copyright(c) 2014, NPR
The War On Drugs. (Courtesy of the artist)

The War On Drugs On World Cafe

Apr 18, 2014 (WXPN-FM)

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We are major fans of the band The War On Drugs. Today's show presents an epic live performance and interview with leader Adam Granduciel. The band formed in Philadelphia in 2005 and was critically lauded in 2011 for the album Slave Ambient, which put them on the map.

Their new album is called Lost In The Dream, and as we will hear in Michaela Majoun's interview, perfectionist Granduciel took a long time to get it right. We'll find out about his process, his relationship with early band member Kurt Vile and hear some amazing music.

Copyright 2014 WXPN-FM. To see more, visit http://www.xpn.org/.

Set List

  • "Limbo Jazz" (D. Ellington)
  • "Josie" (Fagen, Becker)
  • "Mood Indigo" (D. Ellington, Bigard, Mills)
  • "Star Eyes" (De Paul, Raye)
  • "Hesitating Blues" (W.C. Handy)
  • "Things Ain't the Way They Used to Be" (M. Ellington, Persons)
  • "Chain Lightning" (Fagen, Becker)
  • "Black Friday" (Fagen, Becker)

Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR
The War On Drugs. (Courtesy of the artist)

Pipeline Put Off, As Keystone Review Is Indefinitely Extended

Apr 18, 2014 (All Things Considered / WXPN-FM)

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The Keystone XL pipeline remains a major point of contention within the Democratic Party, as green voters pull President Obama one direction and pro-energy senators and labor unions pull the other. It looks as though the "comment period" for the project will be extended, delaying a decision past the November elections.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Set List

  • "Limbo Jazz" (D. Ellington)
  • "Josie" (Fagen, Becker)
  • "Mood Indigo" (D. Ellington, Bigard, Mills)
  • "Star Eyes" (De Paul, Raye)
  • "Hesitating Blues" (W.C. Handy)
  • "Things Ain't the Way They Used to Be" (M. Ellington, Persons)
  • "Chain Lightning" (Fagen, Becker)
  • "Black Friday" (Fagen, Becker)

Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR

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