Jon Hamilton

Jon Hamilton has served as a correspondent for NPR's science desk since 1998. His current beat includes neuroscience, health risks, behavior, and bioterrorism. Recent pieces include a series on the chemical perchlorate, which is turning up in California's water supply; a government effort to find out just how many autistic children there are in the U.S.; and an exploration of "neuromarketing."

Before joining NPR in 1998, Hamilton was a media fellow with the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation studying health policy issues. He completed a project on states that have radically changed their Medicaid programs for the poor by enrolling beneficiaries in private HMOs.

From 1995-1997, Hamilton wrote on health and medical topics as a freelance writer, after having been a medical reporter for both The Commercial Appeal and Physician's Weekly.

Hamilton graduated with honors from Oberlin College in Ohio with a B.A. in English. As a student, he was the editor of the Oberlin Review student newspaper. He earned his master's degree in journalism from Columbia University where he graduated with honors, won the Baker Prize for magazine writing, and earned a Sherwood traveling fellowship.

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4:00pm

Mon April 14, 2014
Shots - Health News

Gene Linked To Alzheimer's Poses A Special Threat To Women

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 5:35 pm

Women make up nearly two-thirds of the people in the U.S. diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
iStockphoto

A gene associated with Alzheimer's disease appears especially dangerous to women and may be one reason that more women than men are diagnosed with the disease.

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3:25pm

Tue April 8, 2014
Shots - Health News

The Forgotten Childhood: Why Early Memories Fade

Originally published on Wed April 9, 2014 4:13 am

Francis Csedrik remembers details of being bonked hard on the head when he was 4, and having to go to the emergency room.
Meg Vogel NPR

Francis Csedrik, who is 8 and lives in Washington, D.C., remembers a lot of events from when he was 4 or just a bit younger. There was the time he fell "headfirst on a marble floor" and got a concussion, the day someone stole the family car ("my dad had to chase it down the block"), or the morning he found a black bat (the furry kind) in the house.

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12:24pm

Wed April 2, 2014
Shots - Health News

Map Of The Developing Human Brain Shows Where Problems Begin

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 12:31 pm

Images of the developing fetal brain show connections among brain regions.
Allen Institute for Brain Science; Bruce Fischl, Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital

A high-resolution map of the human brain in utero is providing hints about the origins of brain disorders including schizophrenia and autism.

The map shows where genes are turned on and off throughout the entire brain at about the midpoint of pregnancy, a time when critical structures are taking shape, researchers reported Wednesday in the journal Nature.

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1:18pm

Thu March 27, 2014
Shots - Health News

Jump In Autism Cases May Not Mean It's More Prevalent

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 2:39 pm

State numbers on autism probably don't accurately reflect children's health status, researchers say.
iStockphoto

The government's latest estimate shows that 1 in 68 children in the U.S. has an autism spectrum disorder. That's a remarkable jump from just two years ago, when the figure was 1 in 88, and an even bigger jump from 2007, when it was just 1 in 150.

But officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the agency's skyrocketing estimates don't necessarily mean that kids are more likely to have autism now than they were 10 years ago.

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4:56pm

Wed March 26, 2014
Shots - Health News

Brain Changes Suggest Autism Starts In The Womb

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 9:03 am

Researchers say intervention in early childhood may help the developing brain compensate by rewiring to work around the trouble spots.
iStockphoto

The symptoms of autism may not be obvious until a child is a toddler, but the disorder itself appears to begin well before birth.

Brain tissue taken from children who died and also happened to have autism revealed patches of disorganization in the cortex, a thin sheet of cells that's critical for learning and memory, researchers report in the New England Journal of Medicine. Tissue samples from children without autism didn't have those characteristic patches.

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