January 31, 2011
The Changing Roles Of 2 Hemispheres In Stroke Recovery
Recovery from aphasia is a dynamic, ongoing process
Most people who survive a stroke recover some degree of their motor, sensory and cognitive functions over the following months and years. This recovery is commonly believed to reflect a reorganization of the central nervous system that occurs after brain damage. Now a new study, published in the February 2011 issue of Elsevier's Cortex, sheds further light on the recovery process through its effect on language skills.
Odelia Elkana, from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and colleagues investigated the systematic patterns of reorganization in the brain's language functions, and their relation to linguistic performance, in patients recovering from childhood brain damage to the left hemisphere. They used functional MRI to detect patterns of brain activity while patients performed various linguistic tasks inside the scanner. The new study focused on a rare group of children whose brain damage had occurred after they had already developed language skills but while the brain was still developing, and therefore most able to reorganize its language functions.
According to the authors, the findings suggest that "recovery is a dynamic, ongoing process, may last for years after onset and is reflected in an increasing proficiency of inter-hemispheric coordination, rather than just in an increase of activation in one side or the other. Therefore, the role of each hemisphere in the recovery process is not only dependent on the stage of recovery (acute, sub-acute or chronic stage), but also within each of these stages it may continuously change over time."
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