James Davis used to be an avid outdoorsman. He surfed, hiked, skateboarded and rock climbed. Today, the 48-year-old from Albuquerque barely gets out of bed. He has the most severe form of multiple sclerosis, known as primary progressive MS, a worsening disease that destroys the central nervous system. Diagnosed in May 2011, Davis relied on a wheelchair within six months. He can no longer get...
Very subtle control of artificial limbs by means of a tiny electronic device may become possible.… [The] electronic device … [is] designed to be injected into a muscle through a thick hypodermic needle. A tiny package strapped to the outside of the limb will beam radio waves at the device, which will return them, modified by the electric current produced in the muscle. — ...
In stark contrast to earlier findings, adults do not produce new nerve cells in a brain area important to memory and navigation, scientists conclude after scrutinizing 54 human brains spanning the age spectrum.
The finding is preliminary. But if confirmed, it would overturn the widely accepted and potentially powerful idea that in people, the memory-related hippocampus constantly churns...
News in Brief
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Helper cells in the brain just got tagged with a new job — forming traumatic memories.
When rats experience trauma, cells in the hippocampus — an area important for learning — produce signals for inflammation, helping to create a potent memory. But most of those signals aren’t coming from the nerve cells, researchers reported November 15 at the Society for Neuroscience...
The human brain is teeming with diversity. By plucking out delicate, live tissue during neurosurgery and then studying the resident cells, researchers have revealed a partial cast of neural characters that give rise to our thoughts, dreams and memories.
So far, researchers with the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle have described the intricate shapes and electrical properties...
An Alzheimer’s-related protein can move from the blood to the brain and accumulate there, experiments on mice show for the first time.
The results, published online October 31 in Molecular Psychiatry, suggest that the protein amyloid-beta outside the brain may contribute to the Alzheimer’s disease inside it, says Mathias Jucker, a neurobiologist at the University of Tübingen in Germany....
Letters to the Editor
Brain boost10/18/2017 - 12:15 Particle Physics, Animals, Neuroscience
It’s possible that therapies such as external brain stimulation and neurofeedback, as well as some drugs, may one day boost brain flexibility. A new line of research suggests flexibility is important for learning, Laura Sanders reported in “Learning takes brain acrobatics” (SN: 9/16/17, p. 22).
Online reader Glenn wondered if drugs for Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s...
Hydrogen peroxide, a molecule produced by cells under duress, may be a common danger signal, helping to alert animals to potential harm and send them scurrying. New details from planarian flatworms of how this process works may deepen scientists’ understanding of how people detect pain, and may ultimately point to better ways to curb it.
“Being able to get a big-picture view of how these...
News in Brief
The brain’s mapmakers don’t get a break, even for sleep. Grid cells, specialized nerve cells that help keep people and other animals oriented, stay on the clock 24/7, two preliminary studies on rats suggest. Results from the studies, both posted October 5 at bioRxiv.org, highlight the stability of the brain’s ‘inner GPS’ system.
Nestled in a part of the brain called the medial entorhinal...
Reviews & Previews
The River of ConsciousnessOliver SacksKnopf, $27
The experience of reading the essays that make up The River of Consciousness is very much like peering into an ever-changing stream. Pebbles shift as the water courses by, revealing unexpected facets below.
The essays, by neurologist Oliver Sacks and arranged into an anthology two weeks before his death in 2015, meander through such...