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The Scientific Method: ‘A Molecule Away from Madness’

More than 50 million Americans each year suffer from neurodegenerative disorders, from Alzheimer’s Disease to Huntington’s Disease.

University of Pennsylvania neuroscientist Sara Manning Peskin unpacks the molecular changes in our brain’s chemistry that cause these diseases in her new book, A Molecule Away from Madness: Tales of a Hijacked Brain.”

Peskin weaves personal stories from her patients and their families into the history of researchers uncovering these illnesses.

Jamie Arking’s father is one of the characters profiled in the book. He passed away from frontotemporal dementia in 2018. Jamie was tested to see if he carries the genetic mutation that causes the disease.

“As much as I thought I was prepared to know my mutational status, actually getting that positive diagnosis was still a shock. While it doesn’t change how I approach my life in general, I always am hypersensitive to knowing when I forget something,” said Arking.

In our latest installment of the Scientific Method, we explore brain chemistry and the role of genetic testing.

Copyright 2022 WAMU 88.5

Chris Remington