Researchers have only recently been able to use brain scans to detect Alzheimer's risk factors in living people.
December 27, 2013 Head injuries have long been considered a risk factor for Alzheimer's, but the evidence on that is mixed. A study finds that people who have memory problems decades after a concussion are more likely to have the brain plaques associated with Alzheimer's.
Having a perfect memory can put a strain on relationships, because every slight is remembered.
Katherine Streeter for NPR
December 27, 2013 Only a rare few people have the ability to remember everything that happened in their lives. But that gift can seem like a curse, they say, keeping them marooned in the past and unable to enjoy the present. Forgetting, it seems, can be a good thing.
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A newly discovered neural circuit in the brain of the common fruit fly seems to serve as a sort of "volume control," turning up and down the perception of sound and light.
December 27, 2013 Scientists hope to solve mysteries of the human brain by studying much simpler neural networks — like the brain circuits of fruit flies and mice. Already such research is turning up clues to why many people with autism are easily overwhelmed by bright lights and loud sound.
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A technique called optogenetics is being used in the laboratory to observe and control what brain circuits are doing in real time.
Henning Dalhoff/Getty Images/Science Photo Library RM
December 26, 2013 An experimental technique called optogenetics is starting to change the way researchers look at the brain. The tool allows them to switch entire brain circuits on and off using light, and may help figure out what's going wrong in brain ailments from epilepsy to depression.
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December 13, 2013 Recent work shows there may be differences in the brains of men and women. But what does this tell us about differences between men and women? Not much, according to philosopher Alva Noë.
Surgeons use a grid of electrodes laid on a patient's brain. They record electrical activity and can deliver a tiny jolt.
Courtesy of Dr. Josef Parvizi
December 9, 2013 When doctors stick electrodes into the brain of a patient with epilepsy, they're hoping to find a cure for debilitating seizures. But they're also exploring a still-mysterious landscape. And they couldn't do it without a patient willing to help.
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December 4, 2013 Is the brain a sort of quantum computer? What is consciousness? Marcelo Gleiser's brain is buzzing with big questions after participating in a conference that asked if quantum physics plays a role in how we think.
It's time to rethink whatever you thought you knew about how the right and left hemispheres of the brain work together.
December 2, 2013 Is the idea that the left hemisphere of the brain is more logical and the right more intuitive a scientific fact or a cultural fiction? Commentator Tania Lombrozo turns to an expert for answers.
November 28, 2013 Scientists have identified special cells in the brain's hippocampus that mimic a trick of some digital cameras. These cells automatically 'tag' the memory of each event in our lives with information about where that event took place — the better to recall, perhaps, where we left our lost keys.
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Children under age 2 can reason abstractly, researchers say.
November 25, 2013 Developmental psychologists are trying to figure out what very small children know and when they know it. The answer: a lot, and a lot earlier than you think. One experiment finds that 18-month-olds can reason abstractly when sorting blocks, well before they are able to explain it.
President Obama has pledged millions of dollars to fuel research into understanding the workings of the human brain.
November 15, 2013 President Obama has launched basic research to help scientists peer deep into the individual nerve circuits in the brain. There's also a more practical effort to restore the memories of injured soldiers by outfitting them with specialized brain implants.
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I think I can see something.
November 1, 2013 Using special eye-tracking cameras, researchers at the University of Rochester found that many people can perceive their own bodies moving, even in total darkness. Our minds instinctively fill in images when there aren't any real ones to see.
A brain that can let other thoughts bubble up despite being in pain might help its owner benefit from meditation or other cognitive therapies.
October 29, 2013 Prescription painkillers don't work for many people, and some people are helped by treatments like meditation that don't rely on drugs. The varied responses may stem from fundamental differences in how people's brains react to pain. Some minds can wander away from pain, while others just can't turn away.
October 28, 2013 Humans and other primates have really good vision. One scientist thinks that ability evolved in part to help monkeys and humans quickly recognize venomous snakes. When monkeys see photos of snakes, neurons in a specific part of the brain light up. The neurons respond to photos of the reptiles more than to monkey faces.
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October 17, 2013 While mice sleep, their brain cells shrink, allowing cerebrospinal fluid to flow easily around them. The fluid can then clear away toxins. This finding appears to offer the best explanation yet of why animals and people need sleep.
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