Navigation Links
Reorganizing brain could lead to new stroke, tinnitus treatments

UT Dallas researchers recently demonstrated how nerve stimulation paired with specific experiences, such as movements or sounds, can reorganize the brain. This technology could lead to new treatments for stroke, tinnitus, autism and other disorders.

In a related paper, The University of Texas at Dallas neuroscientists showed that they could alter the speed at which the brain works in laboratory animals by pairing stimulation of the vagus nerve with fast or slow sounds.

A team led by Dr. Robert Rennaker and Dr. Michael Kilgard looked at whether repeatedly pairing vagus nerve stimulation with a specific movement would change neural activity within the laboratory rats' primary motor cortex. To test the hypothesis, they paired the vagus nerve stimulation with movements of the forelimb in two groups of rats. The results were published in a recent issue of Cerebral Cortex.

After five days of stimulation and movement pairing, the researchers examined the brain activity in response to the stimulation. The rats who received the training along with the stimulation displayed large changes in the organization of the brain's movement control system. The animals receiving identical motor training without stimulation pairing did not exhibit any brain changes, or plasticity.

People who suffer strokes or brain trauma often undergo rehabilitation that includes repeated movement of the affected limb in an effort to regain motor skills. It is believed that repeated use of the affected limb causes reorganization of the brain essential to recovery. The recent study suggests that pairing vagus nerve stimulation with standard therapy may result in more rapid and extensive reorganization of the brain, offering the potential for speeding and improving recovery following stroke, said Rennaker, associate professor in The University of Texas at Dallas' School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences

"Our goal is to use the brain's natural neuromodulatory systems to enhance the effectiveness of standard therapies," Rennaker said. "Our studies in sensory and motor cortex suggest that the technique has the potential to enhance treatments for neurological conditions ranging from chronic pain to motor disorders. Future studies will investigate its effectiveness in treating cognitive impairments."

Since vagus nerve stimulation has an excellent safety record in human patients with epilepsy, the technique provides a new method to treat brain conditions in which the timing of brain responses is abnormal, including dyslexia and schizophrenia.

In another paper in the journal Experimental Neurology, Kilgard led a team that paired vagus nerve stimulation with audio tones of varying speeds to alter the rate of activity within the rats' brains. The team reported that this technique induced neural plasticity within the auditory cortex, which controls hearing.

"Our goal is to use the brain's natural neuromodulatory systems to enhance the effectiveness of standard therapies," Dr. Rennaker said.

The UT Dallas researchers are working with a device developed by MicroTransponder, a biotechnology firm affiliated with the University. MicroTransponder currently is testing a vagus nerve stimulation therapy on human patients in Europe in hopes of reducing or eliminating the symptoms of tinnitus, the debilitating disorder often described as "ringing in the ears."

"Understanding how brain networks self-organize themselves is vitally important to developing new ways to rehabilitate patients diagnosed with autism, dyslexia, stroke, schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease," said Kilgard, a professor of neuroscience.

Treatment of neurological disease is currently limited to pharmacological, surgical or behavioral interventions. But this recent research indicates it may be possible to effectively manipulate the plasticity of the human brain for a variety of purposes. Patients then could benefit from brain activity intentionally directed toward rebuilding lost skills.

If subsequent studies confirm the UT Dallas findings, human patients may have access to more efficient therapies that are minimally invasive and avoid long-term use of drugs.


Contact: Emily Martinez
University of Texas at Dallas

Related biology news :

1. LSUHSC research finds treating stress prevented new MS brain lesions
2. How a protein meal tells your brain you’re full
3. Diabetes drug makes brain cells grow
4. Road-mapping the Asian brain
5. Chronic inflammation in the brain leads the way to Alzheimers disease
6. Brain scans detect early signs of autism
7. Transgenic technique to eliminate a specific neural circuit of the brain in primates
8. Blood-brain barrier building blocks forged from human stem cells
9. Gene mutations cause massive brain asymmetry
10. Photograph of a living human brain is the overall winner of Wellcome Image Awards 2012
11. This is your brain on no self-control
Post Your Comments:
(Date:8/23/2017)...  The general public,s help is being enlisted in what,s thought to ... and on the human body –and are believed to affect health.  ... The Microbiome Immunity Project is the largest ... the gut. The project's goal is to help advance scientific knowledge of ... ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ITHACA, N.Y. , June 23, 2017  IBM ... in dairy research, today announced a new collaboration using ... the chances that the global milk supply is impacted ... project, Cornell University has become the newest academic institution ... Chain, a food safety initiative that includes IBM Research, ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... --  Bridge Patient Portal , an enterprise patient ... Systems , an electronic medical record solutions developer ... a partnership to build an interface between the ... products, including Centricity Practice Solution (CPS), Centricity Business ... integrations will allow healthcare delivery networks using GE ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... Oct. 11, 2017  VMS BioMarketing, a leading provider of ... oncology Clinical Nurse Educator (CNE) network, which will launch this ... communication among health care professionals to enhance the patient care ... staff, and other health care professionals to help women who ... ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... implantation and pregnancy rates in frozen and fresh in vitro fertilization (IVF) ... and maternal age to IVF success. , After comparing the results from the ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... targeted antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) therapeutics, today confirmed licensing rights that give it ... Nanoparticle), a technology developed in collaboration with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... 2017 International research firm Parks Associates announced today ... the TMA 2017 Annual Meeting , October 11 in ... home security market and how smart safety and security products impact the ... Parks Associates: Smart Home Devices: ... "The residential security market has experienced ...
Breaking Biology Technology: