Weekend Links: Using “Bravery” Cells to Treat Anxiety, Saying Goodbye to Mosquitoes and More

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Weekend Links is a collection of interesting science stories from across the web, curated by your friends at the Mass General Research Institute.

Mouth-Watering Flavor is Harder to Engineer Than We Hoped

Ana Gorelova writing for The Conversation

While companies producing plant-based meat substitutes are growing quickly, the future of cultured meat is still hazy. In order to be universally accepted by consumers, meat alternatives have to not just look like conventional meat, but also mimic its smell, texture and taste — not a trivial task for food scientists.

Can’t Get Comfortable In Your Chair? Here’s What You Can Do

Michaeleen Doucleff writing for NPR

About a hundred years ago, something devious started happening in our homes and offices, in our cars and at restaurants — and our backs have never been the same. For hundreds — even thousands — of years, chairs were made of wood. Then in the 20th century, designers got their hands on new materials, such as steel, plastic and foam. And chairs started blowing up in size and softness.

Giving Malaria a Deadline

Nicholas Wade writing for the New York Times

Malaria is among the world’s worst scourges. In 2016 the disease, which is caused by a parasite and transmitted by mosquitoes, infected 194 million people in Africa and caused 445,000 deaths. But biologists now have developed a way of manipulating mosquito genetics that forces whole populations of the insect to self-destruct.

The Blissful and Bizarre World of ASMR

Craig Richard writing for The Conversation

Have you ever stumbled upon an hour long online video of someone folding napkins? Or maybe crinkling paper, sorting a thimble collection or pretending to give the viewer an ear exam? They’re called ASMR videos and millions of people love them and consider watching them a fantastic way to relax. Other viewers count them among the strangest things on the internet.

The Brain’s “Bravery Cells” Encourage Risky Behavior

Sam Schipani writing for The Conversation

According to new research, your reaction may have less to do with logically analyzing the situation and more to do with how so-called “bravery cells” in your brain light up in response to the threat. Our brains have been primed from the early stages of evolution to respond to risk in order to keep us safe, but not all risky scenarios are as severe as a hungry wolf in the woods—and sometimes our minds flood us with apprehension when there is no risk at all.

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