Remapping Damaged Brain Could Improve Rehabilitation

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Researchers have uncovered an interplay between brain regions that contributes to motor function recovery following brain damage. The discovery could be a major breakthrough for rehabilitative care following events like stroke.

The research team, from the RIKEN Center for Life Science Technologies and the AIST Human Technology Research Institute in Japan, studied the rehabilitation process in monkeys that had injury to the region of the brain that controlled hand movements. Following rehabilitative training, when motor functions are remapped, brain regions distant from the lesion site were recruited during the initial stages while function connections near the lesion are strengthened in later stages, the researchers reported in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Researchers taught the monkeys to quickly grab an object, which they performed for 30 minutes a day for several weeks, which improved motor function. The team conducted H215O-positron emission tomography (PET) both before injury and during the training. They observed that activity in the ventral premotor cortex was higher during the early stages of recovery compared to before the injury. Through psychophysiological interactions (PPI) analysis, the researchers found that while performing the task, the connections between the brain lesion site and regions associated with primary motor cortex became stronger.

The findings will likely contribute to the development of new rehabilitation techniques and targeted drug therapies for victims of stroke and other sources of focal brain injury.  

Brain connections
Remapping Damaged Brain Could Improve Rehabilitation

Scientists at the RIKEN Center for Life Science Technologies, along with researchers from the AIST Human Technology Research Institute in Japan, have identified a time-dependent interplay between two brain regions that contributes to the recovery of motor function after focal brain damage, such as a stroke

Published in the Journal of Neuroscience, the research shows that when motor functions are remapped through rehabilitative training, brain regions relatively distant from a lesion are recruited during the initial stages and functional connections with regions near the lesion are strengthened during the latter stages.

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