Adult Brains Can Heal Themselves

A new case study of a stroke patient suggests that adults’ brains might be just as “plastic,” or capable of creating new neural pathways, as those of children.

Past research has established the remarkable capacity of young brains to change or adapt to deficits by creating new signaling routes, a phenomenon called plasticity. However, whether adult brains have that same capacity has remained controversial.

Results from a new study, published in the Sept. 5 online edition of the Journal of Neuroscience, suggest at least in one patient, the visual center of an adult brain can reorganize itself neurally to overcome damaged pathways and result in changes (and possibly improvements) in visual perception.

The new finding adds weight to suggestions made by other research about the ability of adult brains to morph.

This year, neuroscientists reported the adult mice could grow new neurons, a finding they said could have implications for the treatment of human neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s. A similar finding was reported a couple of years ago in mice. In 2005, a brain-scan study of human adults with macular degeneration showed evidence of plasticity in the visual regions of their brains.

http://www.livescience.com/health/070906_brain_change.html

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