Web edition: July 27, 2012
Print edition: August 11, 2012; Vol.182 #3 (p. 11)
Deaf people see and touch differently
People who are born deaf process touch and visual input in what would be the brain’s hearing system, Christina Karns of the University of Oregon and colleagues report in the July 11 Journal of Neuroscience. Figuring out how that happens may help deaf people who get cochlear implants, which require the auditory cortex to go back to processing sounds.
Rare gene tweak confers Alzheimer’s immunity
A rare genetic variant seems to protect against Alzheimer’s disease. The change blocks production of the amyloid-beta protein that builds up in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s, scientists from deCODE genetics in Reykjavik, Iceland, report online July 11 in Nature. The variant also protects against brain decline among elderly people without Alzheimer’s, suggesting that A-beta might have a role in normal aging.
To serve and protect
Cells called oligodendroglia are known to wrap insulating myelin around neural extensions called axons. As they swaddle axons, oligodendroglia also feed them energy-boosting lactate, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and colleagues report online July 11 in Nature. This feeding process could be what goes wrong in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, the scientists suggest.