Jon Hamilton

Soon after Phillip Lynn got married in 2014, he began to forget things. He'd repeat himself. He'd get lost in places close to the couple's home in a suburb of St. Louis.

Then in 2016, his spouse, Kurt Rehwinkel, realized that Lynn's memory problems had become more severe.

They'd just visited some friends who'd gone to Hawaii with them three months earlier. When they'd talked about the trip, Lynn had become confused.

People recovering from a stroke will soon have access to a device that can help restore a disabled hand.

The Food And Drug Administration has authorized a device called IpsiHand, which uses signals from the uninjured side of a patient's brain to help rewire circuits controlling the hand, wrist and arm.

A drug called aducanumab could become the first approved treatment designed to alter the course of Alzheimer's disease rather than relieve symptoms.

But it's unclear whether the Food and Drug Administration will approve the drug because of persistent questions about its effectiveness.

The FDA has a Monday deadline to make a decision on what would be the first new Alzheimer's drug in nearly two decades.

A robotic arm with a sense of touch has allowed a man who is paralyzed to quickly perform tasks like pouring water from one cup into another.

The robotic arm provides tactile feedback directly to the man's brain as he uses his thoughts to control the device, a team reports Thursday in the journal Science.

Previous versions of the arm required the participant, Nathan Copeland, to guide the arm using vision alone.

An experimental device that turns thoughts into text has allowed a man who was left paralyzed by an accident to construct sentences swiftly on a computer screen.

The man was able to type with 95% accuracy just by imagining he was handwriting letters on a sheet of paper, a team reported Wednesday in the journal Nature.

William Stoehr is a prominent artist whose sister died of an overdose. Dr. Nora Volkow is the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health.

Together, the artist and the scientist are on a mission to let people know that drug addiction is a disease, not a moral failing.

"Prevention and treatment and recovery can't take place until we get rid of the stigma and people are willing to seek help," Stoehr says.

An experimental drug intended for Alzheimer's patients seems to improve both language and learning in adults with Fragile X syndrome.

The drug, called BPN14770, increased cognitive scores by about 10% in 30 adult males after 12 weeks, a team reports in the journal Nature Medicine.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

At an animal sanctuary in the Congo, several dozen Congolese schoolchildren are getting a crash course in bonobos.

These gentle, endangered apes, who resemble chimpanzees, are "our closest cousins," educator Blaise Mbwaki tells the students in French. "They have a human character, and they are Congolese."

"So if you eat a bonobo," Mbwaki says, "you are eating your cousin. It is cannibalism."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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When COVID-19 vaccines began arriving in Memphis, Tenn., late last year, some Black residents had questions. Did the vaccines cause infertility? Did they alter a person's DNA?

They don't. And local community leaders worked hard to counter these and other vaccine myths as they came up in public forums around town or appeared online.

As COVID-19 vaccines roll out across the U.S., more travelers are taking to the skies.

Friday marked the busiest day for the nation's airports since the middle of March 2020, when COVID-19 caused air travel to plummet.

About 1.36 million passengers passed through security checkpoints Friday, according to figures from the Transportation Security Administration. That is the highest volume since March 15, 2020, when checkpoints reported more than 1.5 million passengers.

Updated on March 15 at 12:05 p.m. ET

France, Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland have joined a number of other European nations in temporarily suspending administration of a COVID-19 vaccine made by AstraZeneca after reports of abnormal blood clotting in several people.

Many members of racial and ethnic minority groups say they face extra barriers when seeking care for a friend or family member with Alzheimer's disease.

Black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American caregivers were far more likely than whites to encounter discrimination, language barriers and providers who lack cultural competence, according to a report released Tuesday by the Alzheimer's Association.

Fossils offer a detailed record of early human skulls but not the brains inside them.

So researchers have been using genetic material taken from those fossils to search for clues about how the human brain has evolved over hundreds of thousands of years.

And now they have succeeded in growing human brain organoids, or "minibrains," that contain the Neanderthal variant of a gene called NOVA1, a team reports in the journal Science.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Early in the pandemic, people with COVID-19 began reporting an odd symptom: the loss of smell and taste.

The reason wasn't congestion. Somehow, the SARS-CoV-2 virus appeared to be affecting nerves that carry information from the nose to the brain.

That worried neurologists.

A chemically tweaked version of the psychedelic drug ibogaine appears to relieve depression and addiction symptoms without producing hallucinations or other dangerous side effects.

The results of a study in rodents suggest it may be possible to make psychedelic drugs safe enough to become mainstream treatments for psychiatric disorders, the authors report Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

During deep sleep, the brain appears to wash away waste products that increase the risk for Alzheimer's disease.

A host of new research studies suggest that this stage of sleep — when dreams are rare and the brain follows a slow, steady beat – can help reduce levels of beta-amyloid and tau, two hallmarks of the disease.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

In other news, hopes for an experimental drug for Alzheimer's disease took a big hit today. It failed to win support from a panel of experts who advise the Food and Drug Administration. NPR science correspondent Jon Hamilton is on the line.

If you fall off a bike, you'll probably end up with a cinematic memory of the experience: the wind in your hair, the pebble on the road, then the pain.

Medical research was an early casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After cases began emerging worldwide, thousands of clinical trials unrelated to COVID-19 were paused or canceled amid fears that participants would be infected. But now some researchers are finding ways to carry on in spite of the coronavirus.

Researchers appear to have shown how the brain creates two different kinds of thirst.

The process involves two types of brain cells, one that responds to a decline in fluid in our bodies, while the other monitors levels of salt and other minerals, a team reports in the journal Nature.

Together, these specialized thirst cells seem to determine whether animals and people crave pure water or something like a sports drink, which contains salt and other minerals.

Mental illness can run in families. And Dr. Kafui Dzirasa grew up in one of these families.

His close relatives include people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. As a medical student, he learned about the ones who'd been committed to psychiatric hospitals or who "went missing" and were discovered in alleyways.

Dzirasa decided to dedicate his career to "figuring out how to make science relevant to ultimately help my own family."

Out-of-body experiences are all about rhythm, a team reported Wednesday in the journal Nature.

In mice and one person, scientists were able to reproduce the altered state often associated with ketamine by inducing certain brain cells to fire together in a slow, rhythmic fashion.

Some mighty mice have overcome one of the major obstacles to interplanetary space flight: muscle and bone loss.

The mice got a drug that prevented the usual decreases in muscle and bone mass during a month on the International Space Station, a team reports in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

A combination of two experimental drugs appears to slow the decline of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an illness often known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease.

A six-month study of 137 patients with a fast-progressing form of the disease found that those who got daily doses of a two-drug combination called AMX0035 scored several points higher on a standard measure of function, a team reports in the Sept. 3 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

COVID-19 forced Keriann Wilmot's son to trade his classroom for a computer. It was a tough transition for a 10-year-old with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

"It was a different environment for him," Wilmot says. "He wasn't used to this kind of work from school coming in the format of an email in his Chromebook every single day."

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