Around 16,000 people in Switzerland suffer a stroke every year. Often the result of a sudden occlu-sion of a vessel supplying the brain, it is the most frequent live-threatening neurological disorder. In most cases, it has far-reaching consequences for survivors. Often the stroke sufferers have to cope with handicaps and rehabilitation is a long process. The brain does, however, have a “considerable capacity for regeneration” explains Lukas Bachmann from the Brain Research Institute of the University of Zurich. As member of Professor Martin Schwab’s research team, he found that the brainstem, the oldest region in the brain, could play an important role in recovery. The results have now been published in “The Journal of Neuroscience”.
The healthy half of the brain assumes control
A stroke in the cerebral cortex frequently leads to motor constraints of one half of the body, to what is known as hemiparesis. This is due to the loss of neuron pathways which transmit signals from the cortex to the spinal cord. As these pathways are crossed, the side of the body contralateral to the affected half of the brain is affected. The major impairments at the beginning are often only temporary and stroke sufferers can sometimes stage an amazing recovery. “The side of the body affected is increasingly controlled by the ipsilateral side of the cortex, i.e. the healthy side”, explains Lukas Bachmann. As the neuron pathways are crossed, this raised the following question for the neuroscientists: by which pathway are the signals rerouted from the motor cortex to the ipsilateral parts of the spinal cord?
Sprouting of neurons from the brainstem
In their study in mice the researchers in Martin Schwab’s team now demonstrate that the brainstem probably plays a key role in the rerouting of neural impulses. Images of the brain show that after a major stroke nerve fibers from specific core regions of the brain sprout into the area of the spinal cord that had lost its input after a stroke. “At the same time, more fibers sprout from the intact cortex into these same regions of the brainstem”, continues Lukas Bachmann. These changes in the neuronal circuits may mediate the non-crossed flow of nerve impulses after a stroke. “This could turn out to be a key mechanism which facilitates recovery after a stroke”, says the brain researcher. The scientists now want to use these findings to steer the sprouting of neurons in various areas of the brain by means of targeted therapy to maximise the recovery of motor functions.
Lukas C. Bachmann, Nicolas T. Lindau, Petra Felder, Martin E. Schwab: Sprouting of Brainstem–Spinal Tracts in Response to Unilateral Motor Cortex Stroke in Mice. The Journal of Neuroscience, February 25, 2014. Doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4384-13.2014
Bettina Jakob | Universität Zürich
Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine