Teaching the brain to speak again
Cynthia Thompson, a world-renowned researcher on stroke and brain damage, will discuss her groundbreaking research on aphasia and the neurolinguistic systems it affects Feb. 16 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). An estimated one million Americans suffer from aphasia, affecting their ability to understand and/or produce spoken and/or written language.
For three decades, Thompson has played a crucial role in demonstrating the brain's plasticity, or ability to change. "Not long ago, the conventional wisdom was that people only could recover language within three months to a year after the onset of stroke," she says. "Today we know that, with appropriate training, patients can make gains as much as 10 years or more after a stroke."
Thompson has probably contributed more findings on the effects of brain damage on language processing and the ways the brain and language recover from stroke than any other single researcher. Her particular interest is agrammatic aphasia, which impairs abstract knowledge of grammatical sentence structure and makes sentence production and understanding difficult.
Among the first researchers to use functional magnetic resonance imaging to study recovery from stroke, Thompson found that behavior treatment that focused on improving impaired language processing affects not only the ability to understand and produce language but also brain activity.
She found shifts in neural activity in both cerebral hemispheres associated with recovery, with the greatest recovery seen in undamaged brain regions within the language network engaged by healthy people, albeit regions recruited for various language activities.
"It's a matter of 'use it or lose it,'" Thompson says. "The brain has the capacity to learn and relearn throughout life, and it is directly affected by the activities we engage in. Language training that focuses on principles of normal language processing stimulates the recovery of neural networks that support language."
Thompson will discuss research she will conduct as principal investigator of a $12 million National Institutes of Health Clinical Research Center award to study biomarkers of recovery in aphasia.
Working with investigators from a number of universities, Thompson will explore the role blood flow plays in language recovery in chronic stroke patients. In addition, she will conduct cutting-edge, exploratory research using eye tracking to understand how people compute language as they hear it in real time. Eye-tracking techniques have been found to discern subtle problems underlying language deficits in acquired aphasia.
In a landmark 2010 study, she and colleagues discovered two critical variables related to understanding brain damage recovery. They found that stroke not only results in cell death in certain regions of the brain but that it also decreases blood flow (perfusion) to living cells that are adjacent (and sometimes even distant) to the lesion.
Until that study, hypoperfusion (diminished blood flow) was thought only to be associated with acute stroke. Her team also found that greater hypoperfusion led to poorer recovery.
Provided by Northwestern University
- Unlocking the brain after stroke Sep 23, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- The changing roles of 2 hemispheres in stroke recovery Jan 31, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- New metric predicts language recovery following stroke Jun 24, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- New treatments may help restore speech lost to aphasia Sep 28, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- At a loss for words Nov 21, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Why is zone 1 in liver more prone to ischemic injury?
1 hour ago Hi, Is it because around central vein, there is only deoxygenated blood from the vein where as in the periphery there is hepatic artery. Also why...
How can there be villous adenoma in colon, if there are no villi there
21 hours ago As title suggest. Thanks :smile:
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
(HealthDay)—Migraines and depression can each cause a great deal of suffering, but new research indicates the combination of the two may be linked to something else entirely—a smaller brain.
Neuroscience 12 hours ago | 4 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Moving objects attract greater attention – a fact exploited by video screens in public spaces and animated advertising banners on the Internet. For most animal species, moving objects also play a major ...
Neuroscience 15 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
It is known that signs of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and Huntington's disease can appear years before the disease becomes manifest; these signs take the form of subtle changes in the brain and behavior of ...
Neuroscience 15 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Scientists have reversed behavioral and brain abnormalities in adult mice that resemble some features of schizophrenia by restoring normal expression to a suspect gene that is over-expressed in humans with ...
Neuroscience 17 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Researchers at Johns Hopkins have unraveled the molecular foundations of cocaine's effects on the brain, and identified a compound that blocks cravings for the drug in cocaine-addicted mice. The compound, already proven safe ...
Neuroscience 17 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Swiss scientists reveal the mechanism responsible for aging hidden deep within mitochondria—and dramatically slow it down in worms by administering antibiotics to the young.
16 hours ago | 4.9 / 5 (7) | 0 |
Researchers from Queen Mary, University of London have led the largest sequencing study of human disease to date, investigating the genetic basis of six autoimmune diseases.
16 hours ago | 4.7 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Until now, little was scientifically known about the human potential to cultivate compassion—the emotional state of caring for people who are suffering in a way that motivates altruistic behavior.
13 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 2 |
Existing research shows that bicyclists who wear helmets have an 88 percent lower risk of brain injury, but researchers at Boston Children's Hospital found that simply having bicycle helmet laws in place showed a 20 percent ...
5 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
A new approach for immunizing against influenza elicited a more potent immune response and broader protection than the currently licensed seasonal influenza vaccines when tested in mice and ferrets. The vaccine ...
13 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
In a series of lab experiments designed to unravel the workings of a key enzyme widely considered a possible trigger of rheumatoid arthritis, researchers at Johns Hopkins have found that in the most severe ...
15 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |