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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This image shows a human glial cell (green) among normal mouse glial cells (red). The human cell is larger, sends out more fibers and has more connections than do mouse cells. Mice with this type of human cell implanted in their brains perform better on learning and memory tests than do typical mice. Courtesy of Steven Goldman hide caption

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Movies like The Shining frighten most of us, but some brain-damaged people feel no fear when they watch a scary film. However, an unseen threat — air with a high level of carbon dioxide — produces a surprising result. Warner Bros./Photofest hide caption

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Jonathan Mitchell is autistic and wants to donate his brain to science when he dies. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

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