Scientists restore functionality in brain-damaged rats
Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 01:05
Dec. 10 - Neuroscientists have shown that behaviour in brain damaged rats can be partially restored by using implants to bypass the injured area. The research is in its infancy, but the scientists believe a similar approach could one day be used to help people with traumatic brain injuries. Rob Muir reports.
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When challenged to gather food from behind a barrier, a healthy rat uses its brain to great effect. But when part of the rat's brain is injured, the neural circuit delivering instructions to the front legs breaks down and the animal struggles. It's brain no longer communicates properly with the forelimbs.
Scientists at Case Western Reserve University and the Kansas University Medical Center, wondered if they could use a microdevice to bypass the injured area of the brain and restore the rat's ability to feed itself.
So they connected a neuroprosthesis to send electrical signals from the healthy sensory part of the brain to the premotor cortex and then on the forelimbs, restoring the cicuit and
bypassing the damaged area entirely.
The results clearly demonstrate an improvement in the rat's ability to function when the prosthesis is switched on.
The scientists say it may one day be possible to apply similar technology to the damaged brains of stroke or brain trauma patients, restoring a degree of functionality and a better life.
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