A brain that can let other thoughts bubble up despite being in pain might help its owner benefit from meditation or other cognitive therapies. iStockphoto.com hide caption

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Illustration by Daniel Horowitz for NPR
Katherine Streeter for NPR

Cellist Matt Haimovitz made it big in the classical music scene as a little kid. Stephanie Mackinnon hide caption

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When it comes to nature versus nurture, brain scientists think both matter. Daniel Horowitz for NPR hide caption

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A sixth sense? A small patch of neurons on either side of the brain recognizes how many dots are on a screen. As more dots appear, active neurons shift to the right. Courtesy of Ben Harvey/Utretch University hide caption

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Language may have evolved in concert with tool making. Sergey Lavrentev/iStockphoto.com hide caption

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Acting as a "sender," brain researcher Rajesh Rao watches a video game and waits for the time to hit the "fire" button. But he'll only think about doing that — the impulse was carried out by someone in another building, in a recent test of brain-to-brain communication. University of Washington hide caption

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Could the images common in accounts of near-death experiences be explained by a rush of electrical activity in the brain? Odina/iStockphoto.com hide caption

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Instructional assistant Jessica Reeder touches her nose to get Jacob Day, 3, who has autism, to focus his attention on her during a therapy session in April 2007. Rich Pedroncelli/AP hide caption

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Although a flying pig doesn't exist in the real world, our brains use what we know about pigs and birds — and superheroes — to create one in our mind's eye when we hear or read those words. iStockphoto.com hide caption

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A window into dreams may now be opening. Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images hide caption

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