This finding demonstrates plasticity, the ability of a brain area to change its functioning, in the adult human brain. The finding will not lead immediately to treatments, but may eventually play a role in designing new therapies to aid recovery following stroke and brain injury, say the authors, whose study appears in the September 5 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.
“The results shed light on the ability of the adult human brain to reorganize itself and on the functional consequences of such reorganization,” says Shimon Ullman, PhD, of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. “Considerable plasticity of the brain has been demonstrated in various animals and different brain regions, but relatively little has been known about such reorganization processes of the human visual system.” Ullman was not involved in the study.
Daniel Dilks, PhD, of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and colleagues studied a 51-year-old man six months after he suffered a stroke. It damaged nerve fibers that transmitted information from his eye to one region of his visual cortex, which processes visual inputs, rendering him partially blind. The cortex itself was not injured.
Below the blind area, the subject reported that objects looked distorted. For example, when a square appeared just below the blind area, he perceived the square as a rectangle extending upward into the blind area. Testing conducted over a period of four years revealed that the cortex was responding to visual signals normally processed in the adjacent region, suggesting it had been reorganized.
“We discovered that it took on new functional properties, and he sees differently as a consequence of that cortical reorganization,” Dilks said.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging studies confirmed that the visually deprived cortex, which formerly responded only to information coming from the upper left visual field, was now responding to information from the lower left visual field.
Future research will examine exactly which neural mechanisms in the cortex are reorganized and how. One focus of the research will be the connections that link adjacent regions in the visual cortex.
Sara Harris | EurekAlert!
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Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.
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Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.
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