By coaxing skin cells to become brain cells in a dish, Alysson Muotri hopes to learn how early brain development can go wrong in conditions like autism or epilepsy – and how our brains differ from those of our cousins, the Neanderthals.
During brain surgery, Dr. Edward Chang can record the brain’s electrical activity while the patient speaks – then reproduce the spoken words. His goal is to develop a device that will give a voice to people who have lost their ability to speak.
Ev Fedorenko is in awe of her 3 1/2 year old daughter’s ability to soak up language – and as a neuroscientist, Ev’s goal is to one day understand how her daughter’s brain is doing it. Meanwhile she is tackling questions like – can we think without language? And just where in the brain is language anyway?
Audrey Winkelsas has a rare genetic disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy. While it limits her physical abilities, it has helped ignite her passion for science as she works at the laboratory bench – aided by her mother – to find a novel medication to help SMA patients manage the disease.
Brothers Eugene and Kevin Shenderov escaped with their parents from the Soviet Union shortly after being exposed to radiation from the Chernobyl explosion. They are now physician researchers whose personal experience shapes both their research and their relationship to their patients.