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UnDisciplined: The Marine Mammal Biologist And The Experimental Psychologist

This week on UnDisciplined, we're talking about the way dolphins survive in captivity, and the way humans make decisions based on the chemicals in their bodies. 

For a long time, critics of keeping marine mammals in zoological facilities argued these animals simply don't live in captivity as long as they do in the wild. But when it comes to captive dolphin lifespans, it turns out, the data supporting that theory wasn't as reliable as those critics may have thought.

Our first guest is trying to change that. 

Our second guest is trying to change something, too. He wants you to think about the factors at play when it comes to impulse control. If you think it's all "mind over matter," then you're in for a crazy half-hour. 

Joining us from the Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key, Florida, where she is the director of research, is Kelly Jaakkola. Her recent study showed that dolphin lifespans in zoological facilities have caught up to, and may be exceeding, those in the wild. 

Also joining us, from Texas Christian University, is Jeffrey Gassen. He was the first author on a recent paper that describes how raised levels of inflammation in our bodies can make us more likely to focus on present rewards over delayed gratification. 

Matthew LaPlante has reported on ritual infanticide in Northern Africa, insurgent warfare in the Middle East, the legacy of genocide in Southeast Asia, and gang violence in Central America. But a few years back, something donned on him: Maybe the news doesn't have to be brutally depressing all the time. Today, he balances his continuing work on more heartbreaking subjects by writing books about the intersection of science, human health and society, including the New York Times best-selling Lifespan with geneticist David Sinclair and the Nautilus Award-winning Longevity Plan with cardiologist John Day. His first solo book, Superlative, looks at what scientists are learning by studying organisms that have evolved in record-setting ways, and his is currently at work on another book about embracing the inevitability of human-caused climate change with an optimistic outlook on the future.