January 31st: What's On Today's Show

In our first hour, NPR science correspondent Jon Hamilton explores the effectiveness of ketamine for treating severe depression.

In our first hour, NPR science correspondent Jon Hamilton explores the effectiveness of ketamine for treating severe depression. Huw Golledge/flickr hide caption

itoggle caption Huw Golledge/flickr

Depression Drugs
Medications like Prozac are widely used to treat depression. These more traditional antidepressants work by boosting serotonin levels, which researchers believe are at the root of depression. But the drugs can take weeks to take effect and, in some cases, don't work at all. Recent medical research shows that ketamine — also know by its street name, Special K — might work better. Some research suggests that ketamine is an effective antidepressant because it increases communication among neurons, increasing brain circuit activity. Some medical centers have even begun experimenting with the drug on patients dealing with severe depression. NPR science correspondent Jon Hamilton explores the effects of and science behind ketamine in a series that airs on Morning Edition this week. Host Neal Conan speaks with Hamilton about what he found, and Dr. Gerard Sanacora, a psychiatrist, about the latest research involving ketamine and how the medical community and patients are dealing with depression.

Seeking The Other Side In Political Commentary
With the rapid growth of online news, blogs and social media tools, it has become easier to read only those sources that support one's own political views. And in the current partisan political climate — and with a presidential election looming — media consumers might be particularly tempted to stay within their media "echo chambers." If that's your habit, columnist and author Danny Heitman urges you to reconsider. Heitman has been reading and watching political commentators with whom he might disagree for three decades, and he argues that well-informed citizens have "nothing to fear from civil debate." Host Neal Conan talks with Heitman about why he feels reading outside your political comfort zone can be not only enlightening, but enjoyable.

So You Think You Can Pitch?
The iPhone and the Prius, the Hula Hoop and 'Survivor' — all started out with an idea. When creative thinkers develop a concept, they've got to convince a person or a group to sign off on it with funding. So what makes a good pitch? Host Neal Conan finds out from Lori Greiner, known as the Queen of QVC and a judge from ABC's 'Shark Tank.' She has 110 patents under her name. And Bridget Whalen Hunnicutt weighs in as senior vice president at National Geographic Channel, where she develops programs.

Reparations For Japanese-Americans
After Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order that incarcerated more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent. Fred Korematsu, son of Japanese immigrants and born in California, fought the order, citing its violation of his rights as an American citizen. The Supreme Court ruled against him in 1944. But in 1983, a federal court overturned his conviction, and in 1988, the U.S. government formally apologized for the internment. Later, thousands of surviving internees and heirs received payments through a redress program.. Host Neal Conan talks to Karen Korematsu, daughter of Fred Korematsu, about her father's legacy.

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