The human brain can naturally recover from a traumatic injury and allow individuals to continue their daily life functions, according to new research from the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) for Cognitive Brain Imaging (CCBI).
The findings, published in Cerebral Cortex, showed that when one part of the brain suffers an injury, secondary areas of the brain are triggered to take over so that the individual can continue to function.
The Research Procedure and Its Findings
CMU researchers conducted their study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on 16 healthy adults. The researchers simulated damage to the Wernicke area, which is the part of the brain connected to language comprehension. The subjects were asked to perform sentence comprehension tasks while researchers used the fMRI to determine how their brain activity changed due to the simulated damage.
Researchers found that after the simulated damage, the brain rounded up and activated secondary areas to take over the job of the damaged area of the brain. CCBI Director Marcel Just referred to these secondary areas as a “back-up team.” According to Just, this “team” consists of:
- Areas that were the mirror-image of the damaged portion of the brain, called “contralateral areas
- Areas adjacent to the damaged portion of the brain
- A frontal executive area
Just stated that the first two areas have similar brain capabilities as the area of the brain that were damaged, while the third area recruits back-up areas that have similar capabilities.
The study also showed that areas of the brain connected to the Wernicke area were also impacted by the trauma. According to Just, since thinking is a network function, if one part of the network is damaged, the network associated with that area is also impaired.
Is There Hope for Brain Injury Victims?
The study is encouraging for individuals who have experienced a traumatic brain injury. However, there is no guarantee that victims will fully recover from their brain injuries.
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