Navigation Links
New Carnegie Mellon research reveals exactly how the human brain adapts to injury

PITTSBURGHFor the first time, scientists at Carnegie Mellon University's Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging (CCBI) have used a new combination of neural imaging methods to discover exactly how the human brain adapts to injury. The research, published in Cerebral Cortex, shows that when one brain area loses functionality, a "back-up" team of secondary brain areas immediately activates, replacing not only the unavailable area but also its confederates.

"The human brain has a remarkable ability to adapt to various types of trauma, such as traumatic brain injury and stroke, making it possible for people to continue functioning after key brain areas have been damaged," said Marcel Just, the D. O. Hebb Professor of Psychology at CMU and CCBI director. "It is now clear how the brain can naturally rebound from injuries and gives us indications of how individuals can train their brains to be prepared for easier recovery. The secret is to develop alternative thinking styles, the way a switch-hitter develops alternative batting styles. Then, if a muscle in one arm is injured, they can use the batting style that relies more on the uninjured arm."

For the study, Just, Robert Mason, senior research psychologist at CMU, and Chantel Prat, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Washington, used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study precisely how the brains of 16 healthy adults adapted to the temporary incapacitation of the Wernicke area, the brain's key region involved in language comprehension. They applied Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) in the middle of the fMRI scan to temporarily disable the Wernicke area in the participants' brains. The participants, while in the MRI scanner, were performing a sentence comprehension task before, during and after the TMS was applied. Normally, the Wernickearea is a major player in sentence comprehension.

The research team used the fMRI scans to measure how the brain activity changed immediately following stimulation to the Wernicke area. The results showed that as the brain function in the Wernicke area decreased following the application of TMS, a "back-up" team of secondary brain areas immediately became activated and coordinated, allowing the individual's thought process to continue with no decrease in comprehension performance.

The brain's back-up team consisted of three types of brain regions: (1) contralateral areasareas that are in the mirror-image location of the brain; (2) areas that are right next to the impaired area; and (3) a frontal executive area.

"The first two types of back-up areas have similar brain capabilities as the impaired Wernicke area, although they are less efficient at the capability," Just said. "The third area plays a strategic role as in responding to the initial impairment and recruiting back-up areas with similar capabilities."

Additionally, the research showed that impairing the Wernicke area also negatively affected the cortical partners with which the Wernicke area had been working. "Thinking is a network function," Just explained. "When a key node of a network is impaired, the network that is closely collaborating with the impaired node is also impaired. People do their thinking with groups of brain areas, not with single brain areas."

Mason, the study's lead author, noted that following the TMS, the impaired area and its partners gradually returned to their previous levels of coordinated activity, while the back-up team of brain areas was still in place. "This means, that for some period of time, there were two cortical teams operating simultaneously, explaining why performance is sometimes improved by TMS," he said.

This research builds on Just's previous research on brain resilience after stroke and brain training to remediate dyslexia. The studies are motivated by a computational theory, called 4CAPS, that provides an account of how autonomous brain systems dynamically self-organize themselves in response to changing circumstances, which the researchers believe to be the basis of fluid intelligence.

Just, who uses brain imaging to understand how brain processes underpin various types of human thought, has helped to establish Carnegie Mellon as a world leader in brain sciences. The university recently launched a Brain, Mind and Learning initiative to build from its research excellence in psychology, computer science and computation to continue to solve real-world problems.


Contact: Shilo Rea
Carnegie Mellon University

Related medicine news :

1. Carnegie Mellons Marcel Just to receive Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award
2. Mindfulness meditation reduces loneliness in older adults, Carnegie Mellon study shows
3. UCLA Brain Injury Research Center gets NCAA funding for research on sports concussions
4. NIH awards $20 million over 5 years to train next generation of global health researchers
5. Researchers develop a new cell and animal model of inflammatory breast cancer
6. Researchers uncover a viable way for colorectal cancer patients to overcome drug resistance
7. Sexually abused boys at risk for more unsafe sex: UBC research
8. Researchers Find Gene Mutations That May Be a Key to Autism
9. LSUHSC research finds HPV-related head & neck cancers rising, highest in middle-aged white men
10. Researchers find evidence of banned antibiotics in poultry products
11. Presidential keynote address and new research highlights from the American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology meeting
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
New Carnegie Mellon research reveals exactly how the human brain adapts to injury
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... , ... On November 10, 2015, Bohrer Brady, LLC filed a class and ... a home health care worker who provided companionship services for the elderly, ill or ... by Humana, Inc., Humana at Home, Inc., and SeniorBridge Family Companies (CT), Inc. since ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... According to an article published ... and more widely heralded as a breakthrough for performing hernia repairs. The article explains ... laparoscopic surgery is that it can greatly reduce the pain that a patient might ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Dental professionals who would like to become ... invited to attend Dr. Mark Iacobelli’s Advanced Implant Mentoring (AIM) CE course. Courses will ... , As the co-founders of Advanced Implant Mentoring (AIM), Dr. Iacobelli and Dr. D’Orazio ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... athletic programs, launches new Wimbledon Athletics Facebook page to educate the ... for unsuspected cardiac abnormalities. About 2,000 people under the age of 25 die ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... On November 23rd 2015 Cozy ... personal heating products business. Cozy Products explains what this means for business moving ... well with the Cozy Products business model: to sell personal heaters that reduce energy ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... -- Henry Schein, Inc., the world,s largest provider of health ... animal health practitioners, will unveil at the Greater New ... Pavilion , which brings together for the first time ... help any practice or laboratory enter the digital age. ... of experts appearing at the Pavilion. --> ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015  Trovagene, Inc. (NASDAQ: TROV ), ... Chief Executive Officer Antonius Schuh, Ph.D., is scheduled to ... Annual Piper Jaffray Healthcare Conference. th ... Palace Hotel in New York ... Mr. Schuh will be available for one-on-one meetings during ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015 Endo International plc (NASDAQ: ENDP ... , President and CEO, will discuss corporate updates at the ... New York on Wednesday, December 2, 2015 ... on Investor Relations, and then the link to the event. ... start time to visit the site and download any streaming ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: