Archive for category Neuroplasticity
Through treating everything from strokes to car accident traumas, neurosurgeon Jocelyne Bloch knows the brain’s inability to repair itself all too well. But now, she suggests, she and her colleagues may have found the key to neural repair: Doublecortin-positive cells. Similar to stem cells, they are extremely adaptable and, when extracted from a brain, cultured and then re-injected in a lesioned area of the same brain, they can help repair and rebuild it. “With a little help,” Bloch says, “the brain may be able to help itself.”
What is Neuroplasticity? Dr. Matthew Antonucci from Plasticity Brain Centers of Orlando, Florida gives us a breakdown of what the term really means.
The human brain is a wonderful organ with amazing flexibility. Learn more about recovery.
Neuromodulation expands beyond health care.
On October 4, 2019, a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, led by Professor Helen S. Mayberg, M.D. at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Dr. Andrea Crowell at Emory University, showed that deep brain stimulation for treatment-resistant depression for a majority of the participants had a “robust and sustained antidepressant response” in an over eight-year period, and there were not any suicides.
Earlier this year, in April, Boston University scientists Robert M. G. Reinhart and John A. Nguyen published in Nature Neuroscience a neuromodulation study that demonstrated noninvasive electrical brain stimulation temporarily improved the working memory accuracy in older adults. The study used 84 people—half between the ages of 20-29, and the other half between 60-76 years old.
The scientists hypothesize that their technique improved behavior due to neuroplastic changes in functional connectivity for up to 50 minutes afterward. Additional studies with more test subjects are needed to test the hypothesis and determine the full course potential of the effects.
These are just a few examples of the numerous research studies in neuromodulation. Neuromodulation methods include optogenetics, cochlear implants, retinal implants, deep brain and spinal cord stimulators, pharmacotherapy, and electroceuticals. Potential applications for neuromodulation may include chronic pain management, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, complications due to stroke, traumatic brain injuries, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, migraines, spinal cord injuries, and other conditions. Currently, there are over 590 neuromodulation clinical studies worldwide, according to the U.S. National Institute of Health’s Library of Medicine database of privately and publicly funded clinical studies conducted around the world.
Within the growing neuromodulation market, one segment, transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), is moving beyond health care and is making inroads into the consumer segment. Transcranial direct current stimulation is a form of noninvasive brain stimulation using a constant weak electrical current. Typically the voltage is less than two milliamps.
One of the earliest records of transcranial direct current stimulation dates to the ancient Roman Empire. The physician to Roman Emperor Tiberius Claudius Nero Caesar, Scribonius Largus, put a live torpedo fish, an electric ray capable of delivering up to 220 volts, directly on a patient in an effort to use the animal’s electrical discharges for pain therapy.
Fast forward to present day, and transcranial direct current stimulation is being used for a variety of purposes as an emerging technology for neuroscientists, elite athletes, e-sports gamers, neurologists, musicians, and psychiatrists—sans the torpedo fish. Instead, electronic devices in various form-factors are used to deliver currents to the human brain noninvasively via the scalp. Consumer-based transcranial direct current stimulation devices operate on the principle of neuroplasticity—the brain’s ability to change neural connections and behavior.
“Neuroplasticity is the property of the brain that enables it to change its own structure and functioning in response to activity and mental experience,” wrote the New York Times bestselling author, psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst, Norman Doidge, FRCPC, in his 2015 book The Brain’s Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity.
An example of a consumer-based transcranial direct current stimulation device is the Halo Sport 2, a wireless headset introduced in January 2019 that stimulates the brain’s motor cortex through electrical currents to create a temporary state of neuroplasticity. Whether the activity is learning music, dance, or sports, the human brain learns movement via the motor cortex.
The device is made by venture-backed startup Halo Neuroscience, a company founded in 2013 by Daniel Chao, Brett Wingeier, Lee von Kraus, Ph.D., and Amol Sarva, with investments from Jazz Venture Partners, Lux Capital, TPG, Andreessen Horowitz, and others. To use the Halo Sport 2 is simple—neuroprime with the headset on for 20 minutes, then train for an hour afterward.
Halo Sport users include athletes, musicians, and the military—such as members of Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants, National Basketball Association’s Golden State Warriors, the U.S. Navy SEALs, USA Cycling, the United States Ski Team, Berklee College of Music, Invictus, as well as many others.
World champion triathlete Timothy O’Donnell is a Halo Sport user. O’Donnell has over 50 podium finishes, including 22 wins. He won two IRONMAN titles, six Armed Forces National Championships, nine Ironman 70.3 races, an ITU Long Distance World Champion race, and many other prestigious competitive triathlon medals. As a world-class elite athlete, O’Donnell is constantly seeking innovative ways to improve his performance. He reportedly reached out to Halo Neuroscience after reading about the technology and incorporates Halo Sport neuropriming in his training to give him an edge.
A number of investments in neuroscience companies have emerged in recent years, such as Bryan Johnson’s Kernel, Elon Musk’s Neuralink, and Tej Tadi’s MindMaze. Other neurotechnology startups include Synchron, founded by Nicholas Opie and Thomas Oxley, BIOS founded by Emil Hewage and Oliver Armitage, BrainCo founded by Bicheng Han, Nextmind founded by Gwendal Kerdavid and Sid Kouider, Thync founded by Isy Goldwasser and Jamie Tyler, EMOTIV founded by Tan Le and Dr. Geoff Mackellar, Paradromics founded by Matt Angle, Bitbrain founded by Javier Minguez Zafra and Maria Lopez Valdes, Flow Neuroscience founded by Daniel Månsson and Erik Rehn, Dreem founded by Hugo Mercier and Quentin Soulet de Brugière, Neuros Medical founded by Jon J. Snyder, Neurable founded by James Hamet, Michael Thompson and Ramses Alcaide, Cognixion founded by Andeas Forsland, Q30 Innovations founded by Bruce Angus and Thomas Hoey, Neuroscouting founded by Dr. Wesley Clapp and Dr. Brian Miller, and Meltin MMI founded by Masahiro Kasuya, and Neuropace founded by David R. Fischell.
The global neuromodulation device industry is expected to increase to 13.3 billion by 2022, according to Neurotech Reports figures published in September 2018. Within this growing space, consumer-based transcranial direct current stimulation is an emerging market to watch.
[VIDEO] How brain plasticity can change your life with Michael Merzenich at Mind & Its Potential 2014 – YouTube
Hear the latest on how the brain develops and how positive and negative brain plasticity remodels the brain across the lifespan. Learn how to evaluate your own brain and how to rejuvenate, remodel and reshape your brain at any age.
Professor Michael Merzenich, USA, world’s foremost expert on the science of brain training who featured in ABC TV hit series Redesign My Brain as Todd Sampson’s brain training mentor; author of Soft-Wired: How The New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life
For more information visit http://www.happinessanditscauses.com.au
Researchers used to think that after adolescence, people were pretty well stuck with the brain cells they’d already formed. No so anymore. Discoveries in recent years have shown that neurogenesis—the formation of new neurons—can occur much later than this, well into adulthood. And now, a new study from the University of Illinois at Chicago finds that brain cells can form into one’s nineties, even if one has cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease (though at a much decelerated rate). The question is how the late-in-life growth of new neurons fits into what’s already known about degenerative diseases.
The study was published last week in the journal Cell Stem Cell.
The researchers looked at the postmortem brains of people aged 79-99, some of whom had had cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s disease. They targeted markers for two kinds of burgeoning cells—neuroblasts (stem cells that would one day give rise to neurons), and immature neurons—in the hippocampus, the brain area that’s most affected in Alzheimer’s disease.
People who had died without cognitive problems had proliferation of both kinds of cells in their brains. People with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s also had evidence of the cells, but in much lower numbers.
“We found that there was active neurogenesis in the hippocampus of older adults well into their 90s,” said study author Orly Lazarov in a statement. “The interesting thing is that we also saw some new neurons in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive impairment.”
What was interesting was the finding that people who had scored higher on tests of cognition during their later lives had more neuroblasts in their hippocampi, compared to those who’d scored lower—and this was independent of the level of degeneration that was visible in the brain.
“In brains from people with no cognitive decline who scored well on tests of cognitive function, these people tended to have higher levels of new neural development at the time of their death, regardless of their level of pathology,” Lazarov said. “The mix of the effects of pathology and neurogenesis is complex and we don’t understand exactly how the two interconnect, but there is clearly a lot of variation from individual to individual.”
The finding is intriguing since it’s long been known that a person’s level of brain “gunk” (the plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer’s disease) doesn’t always correlate with their cognitive and behavioral symptoms. So it’s possible that these new findings helps explain why this disconnect exists—perhaps the level of neurogenesis matters as much or more than the amount of plaques and tangles that develop. If that’s true, then the big question would be how to harness this for therapeutic purposes.
“The fact that we found that neural stem cells and new neurons are present in the hippocampus of older adults means that if we can find a way to enhance neurogenesis, through a small molecule, for example, we may be able to slow or prevent cognitive decline in older adults, especially when it starts, which is when interventions can be most effective,” said Lazarov.
More research will obviously be needed to understand all of this, but preventing cognitive decline and dementia is probably the way to go, especially since medications to treat Alzheimer’s after the fact have fallen flat in recent years. In the meantime, the study is encouraging on another level: Certain lifestyle habits—most notably exercise—have consistently been shown to boost neurogenesis. The findings suggest we’d do well to pick up exercise, and other brain-healthy habits, and engage in them for as much of our lives as we can, as regularly as we’re able.
For stroke patients, observing their own hand movements in a video-assisted therapy – as opposed to someone else’s hand – could enhance brain activity and speed up rehabilitation, according to researchers.
The scientists, from Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (TUAT), published their findings in IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering.
Brain plasticity, where a healthy region of the brain fulfills the function of a damaged region of the brain, is a key factor in the recovery of motor functions caused by stroke. Studies have shown that sensory stimulation of the neural pathways that control the sense of touch can promote brain plasticity, essentially rewiring the brain to regain movement and senses.
To promote brain plasticity, stroke patients may incorporate a technique called motor imagery in their therapy. Motor imagery allows a participant to mentally simulate a given action by imagining themselves going through the motions of performing that activity. This therapy may be enhanced by a brain-computer interface technology, which detects and records the patients’ motor intention while they observe the action of their own hand or the hand of another person, a media release from Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology explains.
“We set out to determine whether it makes a difference if the participant is observing their own hand or that of another person while they’re imagining themselves performing the task,” says co-author Toshihisa Tanaka, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Electrical Engineering at TUAT in Japan and a researcher at the RIKEN Center for Brain Science and the RIKEN Center for Advanced Intelligent Project.
The researchers monitored brain activity of 15 healthy right-handed male participants under three different scenarios. In the first scenario, participants were asked to imagine their hand moving in synchrony with hand movements being displayed in a video clip showing their own hand performing the task, together with corresponding voice cues.
In the second scenario, they were asked to imagine their hand moving in synchrony with hand movements being displayed on a video clip showing another person’s hand performing the task, together with voice cues. In the third scenario, the participants were asked to open and close their hands in response to voice cues only.
Using electroencephalography (EEG), brain activity of the participants was observed as they performed each task.
The team found meaningful differences in EEG measurements when participants were observing their own hand movement and that of another person. The findings suggest that, in order for motor imagery-based therapy to be most effective, video footage of a patient’s own hand should be used.
“Visual tasks where a patient observes their own hand movement can be incorporated into brain-computer interface technology used for stroke rehabilitation that estimates a patient’s motor intention from variations in brain activity, as it can give the patient both visual and sense of movement feedback,” Tanaka explains.
[Source(s): Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, EurekAlert]
Dr Nemechek Discusses the Vagus Nerve Stimulator, how it’s used and what it can do for a patient.
Background. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is associated with altered white matter organization and impaired cognitive functioning.
Objective. We aimed to investigate changes in white matter and cognitive functioning following computerized cognitive training.
Methods. Sixteen adolescents with moderate-to-severe TBI (age 15.6 ± 1.8 years, 1.2-4.6 years postinjury) completed the 8-week BrainGames program and diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) and cognitive assessment at time point 1 (before training) and time point 2 (after training). Sixteen healthy controls (HC) (age 15.6 ± 1.8 years) completed DWI assessment at time point 1 and cognitive assessment at time point 1 and 2. Fixel-based analyses were used to examine fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), and fiber cross-section (FC) on a whole brain level and in tracts of interest.
Results. Patients with TBI showed cognitive impairments and extensive areas with decreased FA and increased MD together with an increase in FC in the body of the corpus callosum and left superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF) at time point 1. Patients improved significantly on the inhibition measure at time point 2, whereas the HC group remained unchanged. No training-induced changes were observed on the group level in diffusion metrics. Exploratory correlations were found between improvements on verbal working memory and reduced MD of the left SLF and between increased performance on an information processing speed task and increased FA of the right precentral gyrus.
Conclusions. Results are indicative of positive effects of BrainGames on cognitive functioning and provide preliminary evidence for neuroplasticity associated with cognitive improvements following cognitive intervention in TBI.
via Cognitive Training in Young Patients With Traumatic Brain Injury: A Fixel-Based Analysis – Helena Verhelst, Diana Giraldo, Catharine Vander Linden, Guy Vingerhoets, Ben Jeurissen, Karen Caeyenberghs,