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Stroke. 2009 Mar;40(3 Suppl):S136-8. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.108.533653. Epub 2008 Dec 8.

Remodeling the brain with behavioral experience after stroke.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology and Institute for Neuroscience, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA. tj@psy.utexas.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:

Behavioral experience can drive brain plasticity, but we lack sufficient knowledge to optimize its therapeutic use after stroke.

METHODS:

We outline recent findings from rodent models of cortical stroke of how experiences interact with postinjury events to influence synaptic connectivity and functional outcome. We focus on upper extremity function.

RESULTS:

After unilateral cortical infarcts, behavioral experiences shape neuronal structure and activity in both hemispheres. Experiences that matter include interventions such as skill training and constraint-like therapy as well as unguided behaviors such as learned nonuse and behavioral compensation. Lateralized behaviors have bihemispheric influences. Ischemic injury can alter the sensitivity of remaining neocortical neurons to behavioral change and this can have positive and negative functional effects.

CONCLUSIONS:

Because experience is ongoing in stroke survivors, a better understanding of its interaction with brain reorganization is needed so that it can be manipulated to improve function and prevent its worsening.

PMID:
19064784
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2683888
Free PMC Article
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