Babies' Brains Listen While Asleep

Parents, beware waiting until your baby nods off before arguing over the housework—new research from King's College London suggests the sleeping infant will still be listening in.

What's the Latest Development?

Using a functional M.R.I. scanner, Declan Murphy and his team of researchers at King's College London have examined the behavior of baby brains while the babies sleep. What they found is that regions of baby brains are more reactive to certain stimuli than are adults when they are awake. "Murphy's team first compared the babies' responses to human non-verbal vocalizations—such as coughs and sneezes—and other sounds that the tots would be familiar with, like the sounds produced by a musical toy."

What's the Big Idea?

"The finding might send a chill down the spine of all parents that have engaged in a whispered argument over a sleeping child, but Murphy points out negative sounds might not necessarily be detrimental for the baby. 'It could be a good thing—the brain could be training itself to respond to these sounds,' he says. The reason why sleeping babies tune in to the sounds around them remains a mystery. 'It could be because they are hard-wired to be alert,' Murphy suggests."

Why a great education means engaging with controversy

Jonathan Zimmerman explains why teachers should invite, not censor, tough classroom debates.

Sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies
  • During times of war or national crisis in the U.S., school boards and officials are much more wary about allowing teachers and kids to say what they think.
  • If our teachers avoid controversial questions in the classroom, kids won't get the experience they need to know how to engage with difficult questions and with criticism.
  • Jonathan Zimmerman argues that controversial issues should be taught in schools as they naturally arise. Otherwise kids will learn from TV news what politics looks like – which is more often a rant than a healthy debate.
Keep reading Show less

Are these 100 people killing the planet?

Controversial map names CEOs of 100 companies producing 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

Image: Jordan Engel, reused via Decolonial Media License 0.1
Strange Maps
  • Just 100 companies produce 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.
  • This map lists their names and locations, and their CEOs.
  • The climate crisis may be too complex for these 100 people to solve, but naming and shaming them is a good start.
Keep reading Show less

SpaceX catches Falcon Heavy nosecone with net-outfitted boat

It marks another milestone in SpaceX's long-standing effort to make spaceflight cheaper.

Technology & Innovation
  • SpaceX launched Falcon Heavy into space early Tuesday morning.
  • A part of its nosecone – known as a fairing – descended back to Earth using special parachutes.
  • A net-outfitted boat in the Atlantic Ocean successfully caught the reusable fairing, likely saving the company millions of dollars.
Keep reading Show less