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  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers muse about memory, magnetic monopoles and more

    Memory lane

    Inspired by flatworm memory experiments from the 1950s, researchers are on the hunt for the elusive engram — the physical mark that a memory leaves on the brain — Laura Sanders reported in “Somewhere in the brain is a storage device for memories” (SN: 2/3/18, p. 22).

    Readers flooded Science News with their thoughts and questions on the topic.

    Elizabeth Elliott...

    03/09/2018 - 10:20 Neuroscience, Animals, Particle Physics
  • News in Brief

    The debate over how long our brains keep making new nerve cells heats up

    Adult mice and other rodents sprout new nerve cells in memory-related parts of their brains. People, not so much. That’s the surprising conclusion of a series of experiments on human brains of various ages first described at a meeting in November (SN: 12/9/17, p. 10). A more complete description of the finding, published online March 7 in Nature, gives heft to the controversial result, as well...

    03/08/2018 - 17:14 Neuroscience
  • News

    Some flu strains can make mice forgetful

    With fevers, chills and aches, the flu can pound the body. Some influenza viruses may hammer the brain, too. Months after being infected with influenza, mice had signs of brain damage and memory trouble, researchers report online February 26 in the Journal of Neuroscience.

    It’s unclear if people’s memories are affected in the same way as those of mice. But the new research adds to...

    02/26/2018 - 13:00 Neuroscience
  • News in Brief

    Babies can recover language skills after a left-side stroke

    AUSTIN, Texas — Babies’ stroke-damaged brains can pull a mirror trick to recover.

    A stroke on the left side of the brain often damages important language-processing areas. But people who have this stroke just before or after birth recover their language abilities in the mirror image spot on the right side, a study of teens and young adults shows. Those patients all had normal language...

    02/18/2018 - 15:45 Neuroscience
  • News

    To hear the beat, your brain may think about moving to it

    If you’ve ever felt the urge to tap along to music, this research may strike a chord.

    Recognizing rhythms doesn’t involve just parts of the brain that process sound — it also relies on a brain region involved with movement, researchers report online January 18 in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. When an area of the brain that plans movement was disabled temporarily, people...

    02/16/2018 - 10:49 Neuroscience, Clinical Trials
  • News

    Cutting off a brain enzyme reversed Alzheimer’s plaques in mice

    Knocking back an enzyme swept mouse brains clean of protein globs that are a sign of Alzheimer’s disease. Reducing the enzyme is known to keep these nerve-damaging plaques from forming. But the disappearance of existing plaques was unexpected, researchers report online February 14 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

    The brains of mice engineered to develop Alzheimer’s disease were...

    02/14/2018 - 13:12 Health, Neuroscience
  • News

    The wiring for walking developed long before fish left the sea

    View the video

    These fins were made for walking, and that’s just what these fish do — thanks to wiring that evolved long before vertebrates set foot on land.

    Little skates use two footlike fins on their undersides to move along the ocean floor. With an alternating left-right stride powered by muscles flexing and extending, the movement of these fish looks a lot like that of many...

    02/08/2018 - 17:40 Neuroscience, Evolution
  • News in Brief

    Watch nerve cells being born in the brains of living mice

    View the video

    Brain scientists have filmed a first-of-a-kind birth video. It reveals specialized cells in the brains of mice dividing to create newborn nerve cells.

    The images, published in the Feb. 9 Science, show intricacies of how certain parts of the adult mouse brain can churn out new nerve cells. These details may help lead to a deeper understanding of the role of this nerve...

    02/08/2018 - 14:00 Neuroscience
  • News

    A blood test could predict the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

    A new blood test might reveal whether someone is at risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease.

    The test measures blood plasma levels of a sticky protein called amyloid-beta. This protein can start building up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients decades before there’s any outward signs of the disease. Typically, it takes a brain scan or spinal tap to discover these A-beta clumps, or plaques,...

    02/01/2018 - 16:03 Neuroscience, Biomedicine, Health
  • Editor's Note

    Memory remains elusive, but the search continues

    In Theaetetus, Plato likened memory to a wax tablet, which would adopt the image of whatever was impressed upon it. Aristotle is said to have called memory “the scribe of the soul.” Others have viewed memory as a stomach, storehouse or switchboard, while acknowledging that it sometimes seems like a leaky bucket.

    St. Augustine and Robert Hooke also thought deeply about memory. But...

    01/24/2018 - 13:35 Science & Society, History of Science, Neuroscience