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Rigorous Visual Training Teaches the Brain to See Again After Stroke
Date:3/31/2009

ROCHESTER, N.Y., March 31 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- By doing a set of vigorous visual exercises on a computer every day for several months, patients who had gone partially blind as a result of suffering a stroke were able to regain some vision, according to scientists who published their results in the April 1 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Such rigorous visual retraining is not common for people who suffer blindness after a stroke. That's in contrast to other consequences of stroke, such as speech or movement difficulties, where rehabilitation is common and successful.

"We were very surprised when we saw the results from our first patients," said Krystel Huxlin, Ph.D., the neuroscientist and associate professor who led the study of seven patients at the University of Rochester Eye Institute. "This is a type of brain damage that clinicians and scientists have long believed you simply can't recover from. It's devastating, and patients are usually sent home to somehow deal with it the best they can."

The full story is available at http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/pr/huxlin/.

The results are a cause for hope for patients with vision damage from stroke or other causes, said Huxlin. The work also shows a remarkable capacity for "plasticity" in damaged, adult brains. It shows that the brain can change a great deal in older adults and that some brain regions are capable of covering for other areas that have been damaged.

Huxlin studied seven people who had suffered a stroke that damaged an area of the brain known as the primary visual cortex or V1, which serves as the gateway to the rest of the brain for all the visual information that comes through our eyes. V1 passes visual information along to dozens of othe
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SOURCE University of Rochester Medical Center
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