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Medical Neuroplasticity (Adult)

  1. Mar 17, 2006 #1
    Generally, Brain Plasticity is studied more often in children than adults. Their neurons are still much more flexible to changing roles and functions than those in adults. Its as though they are macro-structured stem-cells with a semi-limited scope of tasks.

    http://duckhenge.uoregon.edu/io/article.php?id=278 [Broken]

    It would seem obvious that a young set of neurons could adapt to any function with some learning, behaviour modification of the neurons and so on...

    But, what about adults? There are many studies that research the deaf, blind, alcoholics, dyslexic and so forth and there are tests designed to observe if the functions that are not being performed properly or not at all can be transfered, by neuroplasticity and neurobehavioural modification, to a fresh set of neurons that, through neuroplasticity, will learn and perform the desired function.

    Absract address: http://www.purpled.com/UofO_BDL/Publications/Abstract_Darves_CNS04.pdf [Broken]

    After many years of research into neuroplasticity it is becoming more and more evident that there are certain functions and neurons that retain the adaptability and plasticity that is accepted and observed to reside in a younger person's cognitive makeup.

    This is amazing because it shows promise that, without the use of drugs or surgery, certain functions such as hearing, sight and other less obvious faculties can be restored with simple sensory manipulations. There are recent studies into by-passing stroke-damaged areas of the brain as well. Cool eh?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 21, 2006 #2
    Habit and Neuroplasticity

    read the rest of this article @ http://www.tascnetwork.net/habit.asp [Broken]

    There are also cases where children who were born with severe hydroencephally were able to adapt and grow up without anyone realizing the severity of thier condition. During the 50s there were two children who's brains were completely mal-shaped because of water pressuring their brains up against the cranium. No one knew about thier condition and the children managed to function normally, doing well in english and math at school. When their condition was finally discovered CT scans showed that the morphology of their brains showed no similarity to normal brains. This was a dramatic example of neuroplasticity showing the adaptability of neurons and how their function is not limited to their location, given continuous neuronal-behaviour-modification.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  4. Apr 4, 2006 #3


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    Neuroplasticity in adults is an area of much interest for me. Fascinating, isn't it?

    If you're up to it, it would make a good topic for our journal club. There are lots of recent articles on the subject, any of which would be interesting to discuss. Perhaps you'd be willing to choose one and present it? I think it would get a lot of good discussion going. Perhaps even one of the journal articles published by the groups who presented the abstracts you've already listed above would be a good one to choose.
  5. Apr 4, 2006 #4
    It is a fascinating study. The applications are far-reaching and non-invasive. The study of neuroplasticity started with Evoked Potential studies at UBC. I was a pre-teen subject on one of the early tests back in I have no idea what year... must have been 1969 or so.

    I know the author of those first papers on Evoked Potential.
    She is also the first to have a lab in the US totally devoted to the study and verification of neuroplasticity. That lab was with Jonas Salk at the SALK institute for a period of 17 years. I can get direct, real time comments from the doctor but I should see if she minds being identified here and/or on the internet. ( this paragraph has been edited).

    Please direct me to the site of your journal club. Are you in neurosciences or neurobiology or neurophysics? Does your club have a bar and/or a smoking section¿:wink:?
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2006
  6. Apr 5, 2006 #5


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    I mean the journal club right here on this forum. Look up at the sticky threads at the top of the M&B forum index. We haven't had a volunteer in about a month, so it'd be great if you could present an article, especially on a topic that should stimulate a lot of interest. :smile: (If you grab a beer before posting, the club will have a bar; as for smoking, if you must, just keep it on your side of the computer screen. :biggrin:)
  7. Apr 5, 2006 #6
    You may think that there will be interest in this subject yet you are the only other contributor to this thread on the topic. Why would there be any more interest at the Journal Club? I guess we could find that out.. first hand.

    I should be able to get there sometime this week after some preparation. Please be warned that my expertise is not neuroscience. However, my close proximity and discussions with America's and, decidedly, the world's top most recognized neuropsychologists, neurobiologists and neurophysicists may provide some entertainment with regard to the study of the neuron and the brain etc...

    Thank you for your vote of confidence:surprised
  8. Apr 5, 2006 #7
    i'd be interested but i don't have ink in my printer.
  9. Apr 5, 2006 #8


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    No problem, it isn't for a lot of people here. That's the point of our journal club, to help get people who are not neuroscientists more involved and learning how to understand the literature a bit better than you might on your own.

    If you introduce a paper for everyone to read along with you, it's much easier to focus the discussion in a way that we can have more to talk about than just generalities and "ooh, isn't that neat." C'mon, pretty please? :biggrin:
  10. Apr 25, 2006 #9
    What's more interesting for me about plasticity is the questions it doesn't answer. Neurons take quite a while to physically change and interconnect.

    That means there's a big expanse of time in which I'm remembering things and there's no way my neurons could be regrowing to represent those changes as I'm remembering the events. About the only other way neurons have of holding logic is in the synaptic clefts. In effect, the continuity and context of everything I've just said has probably come just from the states of my synaptic junctions as opposed to the structure of my brain.

    I also suspect dreams are very closely related to plasticity and the body attempting to cement the memories into more permanent, structural changes. And that when we sleep, we don't 'loose' consciousness, our memories merely stop recording and begin sorting in an altered form of it.

    It's quite easy to say that long term memories don't account for our conscious state. That's always the one that comes up when you start talking about cloning and teleportation by quantum entanglement.... "It's just a copy of me."

    But as you start approaching the shorter and shorter term memory, one might expect that we're probably getting closer and closer to whatever is aware of that memory, just as when one looks at the cache in a computer they're actually looking at the stage just before the processor itself.

    Then you can get deep on it... is it the processor that produces the machine's 'consciousness' or the cache? Or... and what I think is far more likely, the whole.

    One example of a real world expression of the short term memory might be neurotrophins, and other growth factors, that are expressed as we learn and that then cause the neural structure to reorganise. Perhaps there is some form of more universal 'loop' in either the neural structure or the neurons themselves that can sample and hold an event (just a collection of stimuli coming through the spinal cord say) while neurotrophins are released, a 'delay' on the tail off of the stimulus. Once the new synaptic junctions are formed, that loop might be stopped or detracted from. Loop amplitude and hold time, as well as growth factor release, might be related to things like adrenaline release, allowing scary events to solidify much more rapidly.

    All interesting thought experiments for my pink goo to work on. I expect that the term consciousness is due for some expansion and redefinition.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2006
  11. Apr 25, 2006 #10


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    Well, the unanswered questions are of course the reason many of us have become scientists in the first place. That's what's so fascinating, to realize what questions have not yet been answered and to start trying to find answers to them.

    I also find the process whereby the change is occurring to be much more interesting than just that it happens. I work on a neural system that takes a month or longer to change...twice a year, every year, for the entire adult reproductive life of the animals (this would be seasonal reproduction I'm talking about). We've made a lot of progress in determining what changes between seasons, but not how it changes during that transitionary period between seasons. So, I definitely share your enthusiasm on this subject.
  12. Apr 25, 2006 #11
    It could be that the structure is in place for neuroplasticity to take place. It may not be so much the structure that has to change as it may be that the use and function of the structure changes.

    FMRI imaging tracks the volume of oxygenated blood utilization by actively "firing" neurons. The neurons begin long before the blood gets there to support the function, but they require a large amount. This may indicate that neuroplasticiy involves developing delivery systems (extra venules and arteioles for more volume) for iron and oxygen rich blood to groups of neurons that are being modified (or that are plastic) to a specific new function by the presentation of specifically designed or sought-out stimuli.

    It is obvious that time is a factor in neuroplasticity. Learning conservatory level concert piano is a 10 year long affair. Learning to be a scientist in most areas takes even longer. Note how long some stroke or head trauma patients need to begin to learn to walk and/or talk again.

    To initiate a benefit of neruoplasticity specific neurons require behavioural modification using specific tools that evoke their potential. The behavioural/structural modification of any organ's structure requires discipline, commitment, time and perseverence, among many other skill sets.

    As I understand it "connectivity" between neurons is already established... the structure has been built according to genetic code and environmental influences. This would include the function and chemical potentials of the synapses. It is the part and function of the facilitator to specifically encourage the modification of the utilization of that structure or parts thereof. That facilitator can and does often include the actual subject in question.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2006
  13. Apr 28, 2006 #12


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    Not really, each new thought, each new action create a new neural program and thus plasticity is just the key of constant brain maturation. We are connecting around 1000 synapses/sec and creating 1000 new neurons/hour and destroy quite the same quantity. This role is devoted to glia cells.

    There are neurons able to migrate within the brain.
  14. Apr 28, 2006 #13
    It sounds like plasticity extends to a point where neurons adapt to take on a number of functions including motility. This is why I used the analogy of a stem cell to illustrate neuroplasticity. So there is some differentiation among neurons?
  15. Apr 30, 2006 #14
    To answer my own question there are some very in-depth studies on neuronal cell differentiation... here's one from Harvard.

    From: http://www.hms.harvard.edu/armenise/old_site/4a_cell.htm [Broken]


    Apparently there are specific stem-cells to neuronal development.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
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