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Lost for words

Struggling to find words might be one of the first things we notice when someone develops dementia, while more advanced speech loss can make it really challenging to communicate with loved ones. And understanding what’s behind these changes may help us overcome communication barriers when caring for someone living with the condition.

When Ebrahim developed Alzheimer’s Disease, for example, he’d been living in the UK for many years. Gradually his fluent English faded and he reverted to his mother tongue, Farsi - which made things tricky for his English-speaking family who were caring for him. Two decades on, his son, the journalist and author David Shariatmadari, seeks answers to his father’s experience of language loss. What can neuroscience reveal about dementia, ageing, and language changes? Why are some aspects of language more vulnerable than others - and, importantly, what are the best approaches to communicating with someone living with dementia?

David reflects on archive recordings of his dad, and speaks to a family in a similar situation to theirs, to compare the ways they tried to keep communication alive. And he discovers there are actually clear benefits to bilingualism when it comes to dementia: juggling two or more languages can delay the onset of symptoms by around four years. So while losing one of his languages posed practical difficulties for Ebrahim, it’s possible that by speaking two languages in the first place, he was able to spend more valuable lucid years with his family.

Presented by David Shariatmadari and produced by Cathy Edwards

A sense of music

Music can make us feel happy and sad. It can compel us to move in time with it, or sing along to a melody. It taps into some integral sense of musicality that binds us together. But music is regimented, organised. That same 'sense' that lets us lean into Beethoven makes a bad note or a missed beat instantly recognisable. But does that same thing happen in the minds of animals? Can a monkey feel moved by Mozart? Will a bird bop to a beat?

Do animals share our 'Sense of Music'?

Charles Darwin himself thought that the basic building blocks of an appreciation for music were shared across the animal kingdom. But over decades of scientific investigation, evidence for this has been vanishingly rare.

Fresh from his revelation that animals' experience of time can be vastly different to our own, in the award-winning programme 'A Sense of Time', presenter Geoff Marsh delves once more into the minds of different species. This time he explores three key aspects of musicality: rhythm, melody and emotional sensitivity.

Geoff finds rhythm is lacking in our closest relatives, the chimpanzees. But it's abundantly clear in a dancing Cockatoo, and internet sensation, named Snowball. He speaks with scientists who have revealed that birds enjoy their own music, but may be listening for something completely different to melody. And Geoff listens to music composed for tamarin monkeys, that apparently they find remarkably relaxing, but which sets us on edge.

In 'A Sense of Music', discover what happens when music meets the animal mind.

Produced by Rory Galloway
Presented by Geoff Marsh

Whatever happened to…those Covid-19 stories

Whatever happened to those sniffer dogs who were seeking out any passengers infected with Covid-19 at Helsinki airport? And did plans to sample sewage to spot outbreaks early prove successful? This week on The Evidence, we have listeners’ questions about some of the clever ideas which were in the news early on in the pandemic but we haven’t heard about for a while.

Trials of treatments like the cheap steroid dexamethasone proved successful – but what about the anti-parasite medication, ivermectin, which has sparked fierce debate on social media?

Because of its role in our body’s immune system, researchers wondered if Vitamin D might be useful in preventing Covid infections or treating people in hospital. We hear about some of the flaws in those studies – and the role which genetics plays in how much Vitamin D there is in our bodies.
Nasal sprays have been used for colds and flu to help shorten how long you are ill for and reduce the symptoms – can we achieve the same result for Covid infections by using a spray which contains seaweed?

Vaccination is key to ending the pandemic – but have all of the vaccines bought by countries like the United States been used? And what will happen to any which are left over, can they be given to countries which desperately need them? Once enough people are vaccinated or have immunity from being infected we should reach the magical “herd immunity” level where there aren’t enough people vulnerable to infection for Covid-19 to spread. We hear how new variants of the virus could mean that number will grow – making it more difficult to bring the pandemic to an end.

Claudia Hammond’s panel of experts will guide you through some of the ideas which have been tested like nasal sprays and nicotine patches – to separate the duds from the winners – as well as highlight others which could still prove to be promising.

Claudia’s expert panel includes global health epidemiologist from the University of Boston, Professor Matthew Fox; from The Netherlands Professor Marion Koopmans who’s Head of the Erasmus MC Department of Viroscience in Rotterdam, who was a member of the WHO’s mission to Wuhan in China earlier this year to investigate the origins of Covid-19; Vice Dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine Dr Danny Bryden, who’s a Consultant at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals; medical journalist Clare ...

Dare To Repair: Fixing the future

Mark Miodownik, explores the environmental consequences of the throwaway society we have become and reveals that recycling electronic waste comes second to repairing broken electronics. He asks what we can learn from repair cultures around the world , he looks at manufacturers who are designing in repair-ability, and discovers the resources available to encourage and train the next generation of repairers.

Image: Teen boy solders wires to build robot, Credit: SDI Productions/Getty Images

Producer: Fiona Roberts

Dare to repair: The fight for the right to repair

Many electronics manufacturers are making it harder for us, to fix our broken kit. There are claims that programmed obsolescence is alive and well, with mobile phone batteries designed to wear out after just 400 charges. They claim it's for safety or security reasons, but it pushes constant replacement and upgrades. But people are starting to fight back. Mark Miodownik talks to the fixers and repairers who are heading up the Right to Repair movement which is forcing governments to act, and making sustainability and value for money part of the consumer equation.

Producer: Fiona Roberts

(Photo: A pile of discarded computer circuit board. Credit: Tara Moore/Getty Images)

Dare to Repair: How we broke the future

Materials engineer Professor Mark Miodownik looks back to the start of the electronics revolution to find out why our electronic gadgets and household goods are less durable and harder to repair now. As he attempts to fix his digital clock radio, he reveals that the drive for cheaper stuff and advances in design and manufacturing have left us with a culture of throwaway technology and mountains of electronic waste.

Image: Apron housewife at kitchen dish washer, Credit: George Marks/Getty Images

Producer: Fiona Roberts

Tooth and claw: Tigers

“As it charges towards you, you can actually feel the drumbeat of its feet falling to the ground”. Nothing quite says fear more than standing before a charging tiger. Yet so often it’s also the poster-predator for conservation. The tiger truly is the ‘prince of the jungle’.. The good news (to some) is that after a century of decline, wild tiger populations have increased recently. But with this comes the increase in human fatalities – there are almost daily attacks on the rural poor across India. A world without wild tigers is not a world we want, but how do we balance the needs of people and the needs of tigers? Adam finds out more about tigers and the people that live around them by speaking with Indian tiger expert Rajeev Matthews and conservation biologist Samantha Helle, who is based in the US and works with communities and tigers in Nepal.

Producer: Rami Tzabar and Beth Eastwood
Presenter: Professor Adam Hart

(Photo: A crouching tiger, Credit: Yudik Pradnyana/Getty Images)

Tooth And Claw: Bears

Teddy bears might be popular with children but real bears are anything but cuddly. Brown, Black and Grizzly bears are the most well-known and have a well-deserved fearsome reputation. But for most part, bear attacks are not nearly as common as you might think. They’re solitary, curious and you’re unlikely to see one unless you’re really lucky – or unlucky depending on your point of view. So what should you do if you find yourself facing one in a forest? To learn more about these fascinating creatures, which can spend the winter months in a deep state of biological hibernation, Professor Adam Hart speaks to Dr Clayton Lamb from the University of British Columbia in Canada and Dr Giulia Bombieri from the Science Museum in Trento Italy about their work and experiences of these amazing beasts whose numbers are increasing in some parts of the world, leading to an increase of defensive attacks on people.

Produced by Rami Tzabar and Beth Eastwood
Presented by Professor Adam Hart.

Picture: Brown bear, Credit: Szabo Ervin-Edward/EyeEm/Getty Images

The Evidence: How Covid damages the human body

A year and a half in, and in many ways Covid-19 is still an enigma. All over the world, doctors and scientists are still struggling to understand exactly how this new virus undermines our defences and then damages, even destroys, our bodies, in so many different ways. And why are some people completely unaffected?

In this edition of The Evidence, Claudia Hammond and her panel of experts chart the remarkable journey to understand this chameleon-like virus, including the long tail of the pandemic, Long Covid. Millions the world over are suffering under the dark shadow of post-Covid, with a multitude of symptoms months after the infection. Some of them, listeners to the programme, share their experiences.

And, the background story of the world famous RECOVERY trial, set up at record speed in the UK (but now international) to test which treatments could save the lives of the sickest Covid patients. So far 10 treatments for Covid have been randomised and tested on thousands of patients and the results have shown that six, including the widely used and promoted hydroxychloroquine, make no difference to chances of surviving a hospital stay. While evidence that the cheap, widely-available steroid, dexamethasone, does work, and has so far saved more than a million lives world-wide.

Joint chief investigator of RECOVERY, Sir Martin Landray, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Oxford, admits to Claudia that he’s been asked to include bee pollen and snake venom in the trial, but so far he’s resisted.

Claudia’s expert panel also includes Professor K. Srinath Reddy, cardiologist and epidemiologist and President of the Public Health Institute of India; Dr Sherry Chou, intensivist and neurologist from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine who heads the Global Consortium Study on Neurological Dysfunction in Covid-19 (GCS-NeuroCOVID) and Dr Melissa Heightman, respiratory consultant and Clinical Lead for post-COVID services at University College London Hospitals.

Produced by: Fiona Hill, Hannah Fisher and Maria Simons
Studio Engineers: Donald MacDonald and Matilda Macari

Tooth and Claw: Lions

From Aslan to Simba, from the Wizard of Oz to heraldry, children in the West probably recognise this king of beasts before they can name the animals in their own back yards. But what about people who have lions roaming in their back yards literally? To find out more about the archetypal ‘man-eater; and how our increasingly complex relationship with them is playing out in Africa, Professor Adam Hart talks to two female researchers who have spent much of their lives working and living in lion country, helping to manage the wildlife conflicts that are becoming a threat to both humans and beasts.

Dr Moreangels Mbizah is the Founding Director of Wildlife Conservation Action in Zimbabwe, and Dr Amy Dickman heads up the Ruaha Carnivore Project in Tanzania.

Produced by Rami Tzabar and Beth Eastwood
Presented by Professor Adam Hart.

Picture: Lion, Credit: Nicholas Hodges/Getty Images

Tooth and Claw: Crocodiles

We have a morbid fascination with predators. And we've had it since the very first people carved figures or painted on cave walls thousands of years ago. Predators are still revered as gods in many cultures. Our cultural fascination is equalled only by our biological fear, hardwired into our primate brains, because if you are not a predator, you ARE the prey. In this series, Professor Adam Hart and explores our complex, challenging and ambiguous relationship with Earth’s greatest predators by talking to the women and men who know them best, researchers who have spent their lives tracking them, protecting them and, sometimes, narrowly escaping them.

Today it’s the crocodile, part of the group known as crocodilians which also includes alligators and gharials, which first appeared 95 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period. Much like Tigers, they don’t stalk their prey but lie in wait – often just below the surface of the water, ready to leap out and snap those ferocious jaws on just about anything – including other predators. But as we’ll discover, there is a very different side to these much maligned creatures, who can be nurturing and cooperative. Adam speaks to Dr Marisa Tellez, Co-Founder of the Crocodile Research Coalition in Belize, Central America and Dr Alan Britton is a Zoologist and crocodile specialist in Darwin, Australia, who has a 5-metre croc named Smaug living in his back garden pond.

Produced by Rami Tzabar and Beth Eastwood

Picture: Caiman Crocodile's eye, close up, Credit: Jonathan Knowles/Getty Images

129 episodes

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