In search of flatworms’ regenerative powers

No one knows exactly how flatworms can rebuild their entire bodies from the tiniest sliver. Now, bioengineers and materials scientists are building new tools to study the worms’ awesome regenerative powers.

A smartphone app to treat and track autism

Stanford bioinformatics researchers are working on a smartphone app that could help diagnose autism in minutes – and provide ongoing therapy as well, all with fewer visits to specialized clinics.

Worms and plants could help reveal how neurological drugs work

Humans have relied on plants for millennia to treat a variety of neurological ailments. Now, researchers are using microscopic worms to better understand how plant molecules shape behavior – and perhaps develop better new drugs.

Brain scans help predict drug relapse

In a small trial, brain scans revealed who was most at risk of relapsing after being treated for addiction to stimulants like amphetamines or cocaine. The finding could identify people who need help staying drug-free.

Watching brain cells fire in real time

Brain scientists have plenty of ways to track the activity of individual neurons in the brain, but they’re all invasive. Now, Daniel Palanker and colleagues have found a way to literally watch neurons fire – no electrodes or chemical modifications required.

How the brain decides what to learn

Neuroscientists know a lot about how our brains learn new things, but not much about how they choose what to focus on while they learn. Now, Stanford researchers have traced that ability to an unexpected place.