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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Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
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Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
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Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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