This light micrograph of a part of a brain affected by Alzheimer's disease shows an accumulation of darkened plaques, which have molecules called amyloid-beta at their core. Once dismissed as all bad, amyloid-beta might actually be a useful part of the immune system, some scientists now suspect — until the brain starts making too much.
Martin M. Rotker/Science Source
Neuroscientist Joseph Jebelli says that while a certain amount of memory loss is a natural part of aging, what Alzheimer's patients experience is different.
Roy Scott/Ikon Images/Getty Images
Carl Luepker, his son Liam, 12, and daughter Lucia, 11, light the menorah during Hanukkah in their home in Minneapolis, Minn. Carl and Liam both have a degenerative nerve disorder called dystonia.
Jenn Ackerman for NPR
Alzheimer's disease causes atrophy of brain tissue. The discovery that lymph vessels near the brain's surface help remove waste suggests glitches in the lymph system might be involved in Alzheimer's and a variety of other brain diseases.
Alfred Pasieka/Science Source
After surgeons removed a tumor from Dan Fabbio's brain, they gave him his saxophone — to see whether he'd retained his ability to play. A year after his surgery, Fabbio is back to work full time as a music teacher.
YouTube/Screenshot by NPR
A vaccine against heroin wouldn't be like the measles vaccine that you receive once for a lifetime of immunity, say scientists working on it. Multiple shots per year would likely be required, and it would be specific to just heroin and morphine.
Rats and people may rely on "metamemory" in a variety of different ways, scientists say. For a rat, it's likely about knowing whether you remember that predator in the distance; for people, knowing what we don't know helps us navigate social interactions.
Sonia Vallabh lost her mother to a rare brain disease in 2010, and then learned she had inherited the same genetic mutation. She and her husband, Eric Minikel, went back to school to study the family of illnesses — prion diseases — in the hope of finding a cure for Sonia.
Kayana Szymczak for NPR
In a study that tested the vision of people from a variety of professions, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley found that dressmakers who spend many hours doing fine, manual work seemed to have a superior ability to see in 3-D.
Elena Fantini/Getty Images