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Studying human health at 5100 meters, and playing hide and seek with rats

Science Podcast
Tambako The Jaguar/Flickr

In La Rinconada, Peru, a town 5100 meters up in the Peruvian Andes, residents get by breathing air with 50% less oxygen than at sea level. International News Editor Martin Enserink visited the site with researchers studying chronic mountain sickness—when the body makes excess red blood cells in an effort to cope with oxygen deprivation—in these extreme conditions. Martin talks with host Sarah Crespi about how understanding why this illness occurs in some people and not others could help the residents of La Rinconada and the 140 million people worldwide living above 2500 meters. Read the whole special issue on mountains

Sarah also talks with Annika Stefanie Reinhold about her work at the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience in Berlin training rats to play hide and seek. Surprisingly, rats learned the game easily and were even able to switch roles—sometimes playing as the seeker, other times the hider. Annika talks with Sarah about why studying play behavior in animals is important for understanding the connections between play and learning in both rats and humans.

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

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[Image: Tambako The Jaguar/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]