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Additional Abstracts for the 15th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Neural Therapy and Repair

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Recovery from brain injury can be thought of as a relearning process whereby spared neural tissue is retrained to compensate for lost or impaired functions. The neural mechanisms underlying recovery appear to involve reorganization of remaining neural circuitry through changes in synaptic connectivity within residual neural tissue. Therefore, manipulations that promote synaptic plasticity may enhance experience-dependent recovery of function after brain injury. We have developed a rodent model of cortical ischemia to test the viability of such treatments. The model involves training rats to criterion on a skilled forelimb reaching task prior to induced focal ischemic infarcts via either electrocoagulation or chemical vasoconstriction of the middle cerebral artery. The animals are then given daily motor rehabilitation on the same skilled reaching task. Intracortical microstimulation is used to assess the topography of movement representations within residual cortex. Using this model we show that direct electrical stimulation of motor cortex significantly improves performance on a skilled reaching task. The enhanced recovery is also associated with significantly greater motor map expansion and reorganization in residual cortex. The same model demonstrates that stochastic electrical stimulation of peripheral sensory afferents also induces enhanced motor recovery and motor map reorganization. Finally, administration of two different type IV phosphodiesterase inhibitors known to upregulate the cAMP/CREB pathway significantly enhanced motor recovery and motor map reorganization. The relationship between the amount of motor recovery and motor map reorganization in all three treatment interventions is also not linear. The results suggest that there may be a critical amount of cortical reorganization induced by adjuvant treatments that is required before motor recovery is significantly increased above that observed with standard rehabilitation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 May 2008

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