All that sneezing and coughing brought on by hay fever and other allergies may have a useful purpose: protection from environmental toxins. According to School of Medicine immunobiologist Ruslan Medzhitov and his colleagues, the symptoms help the body get rid of unwanted substances, like pollen. The body’s reaction, says Medzhitov, also serves as a signal to the sufferer: here’s a bad place. Get out.

Americans would pay higher prices for electricity if the increase went toward achieving a national clean-energy standard (80 percent of electrical power generated without fossil fuels) by 2035, according to environmental economist Matthew J. Kotchen and his team. Half the 1,010 adults they surveyed were willing to pay as much as $162 more per year for clean energy.

Oxytocin, a hormone that plays a crucial role in childbirth, breast-feeding, and bonding, may help treat autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Using brain-imaging techniques, researchers at the School of Medicine showed that a single dose of oxytocin administered to autistic children and adolescents increased brain functioning in areas that process social information. A placebo did not affect those regions, which are known to be compromised in ASD.


The comment period has expired.