The benefits of watching

The benefits of watching
A fascinating study taps “mirror neurons” to improve hand strength and dexterity. If I watch a movie of somebody cutting with scissors, and then use scissors myself, my brain will change — and my hand will be stronger. No kidding! More »

Stimulation: Too much could hurt when you are young.

Stimulation: Too much could hurt when you are young.
Growing brains need blood. But persistent noise or activity both slow formation of new vessels in the brain of a mouse. Mice aren’t people, but this result might interest new parents! More »

Stem cell therapy: When will it help the heart?

Stem cell therapy: When will it help the heart?

Heart muscle is never replaced if it dies in a heart attack. Muscle cells grown from stem cells can briefly help broken hearts. Could new approaches make the healing long-term? More »

Spinal cord injury

dark grey illustration of section of spinal cord with labelled sections

A combined nerve-graft and enzyme treatment restored breathing to 9 of 11 rats. The bacterial enzyme dissolves a molecule that separates tissues and prevents growth of nerves and blood vessels. Could this lead to the treatment that finally breaks the logjam in spinal-cord repair? More »

Maggots, leeches, parasitic worms

Maggots, leeches, parasitic worms

Meet three gross “biotherapies”: Leeches suck blood after surgery. Maggots clear dead tissue from wounds. Parasitic worms fight ulcerative colitis. Back to the future, here we go! More »

Traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injury

Charges that NFL ‚Äúdeliberately and fraudulently concealed” … link between head impacts and brain damage. What is the science of traumatic brain injury? More »

Stem cell battle resumes

Black and white image of woman in wheelchair seen from the back in a hospital hallway

A federal court has thrown the field of embryonic stem cell research into confusion. Last week, research that destroys embryos could not get federal bucks — even if those embryos were doomed or destroyed years ago. This week, it can. How is the legal yo-yo affecting researchers — and desperate patients? More »

Growing limbs, healing limbs

Closeup of front of small pink salamander, small dark eyes, tiny limbs, six pink protruding fins.
Salamanders and fish can regrow perfect limbs and fins after amputation. We can’t grow a replacement arm, but can the salamander’s natural regeneration teach about faster wound healing? The latest research on limb regeneration suggests growth factors and equipment that could be ready for the clinic in a few years. More »

Embryonic stem cells

Embryonic stem cells

Pres. Obama has removed some limits on studies of cells that can become any body cell. What was lost in eight years of limits on embryonic stem cells? What’s ahead? More »

Reading the brain; controlling the muscles

Reading the brain; controlling the muscles

A single neuron in the brain may deliver enough information to control a muscle. These results could eventually help bypass the spinal cord, allowing paralyzed people to control their own muscles. More »

Gold medal for exercise: Key to long, healthy life

Activity is not just for the heart: For older people, it spells longevity, mobility, independence. Exercise fights diabetes and MS; even extends the lifespan. Time to get moving? More »

Overcoming paralysis

Overcoming paralysis

Brain electrodes allow monkeys to move robot arm and feed themselves. Experiment proves it’s possible to bypass spinal cord to create simple motion. More »

Restoring Vision, Hearing and Movement

New electronics, new sensors and new electrodes promise new hope for people with grave nerve disabilities. Replacements for both sensory and motor nerves have long ago left the drawing board.

Young Brains: Danger in the Operating Room?

Small doses of alcohol can kill brain cells in young lab animals. In people, they cause fetal alcohol syndrome. Anesthetics can also kill brain cells in animals. What do they do to young humans? More »