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Stimulating Neural Reorganization for Rehabilitation

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 02:50PM

The brain is an amazing organ as it retains a level of plasticity for so long. This is what allows stroke patients, for example, to regain the abilities that had been controlled by now-damaged areas of the brain. Researchers at the University of Texas, Dallas have found a way to accelerate plasticity in rats and hope it can be applied to humans in the future.

The researchers found that when they stimulated the vagus nerve within the rats and paired it with movements of the forearm, the rats' brains would reorganize in response. Those that did not receive the stimulation, but just the movement treatment, saw no reorganization during the five day period.

The movements the rats underwent were similar to those used when rehabilitating stroke patients, which is why the researchers hope this could be used to improve the patients' treatments. This could reach beyond stroke victims though as many other disorders could be treated by reorganizing the brain, including schizophrenia, autism, dyslexia and potentially Alzheimer's. If this cannot be used to treat the patients though, this research could lead to a better understanding of the conditions, and different treatments in the future.

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