The function of the brain is important to execute all physical activities that drive life forward.
The key mechanisms underlying the diverse roles of the brain originate from its ability to regenerate and repair neural cells by a process known as neural plasticity. This physical process may be either innate or induced and has good significance in enabling the individual to adapt to different environmental conditions.
Previous researchers worked on post-lesion plasticity to investigate neural reinnervation and repair and found that lesioned rats with olivocerebellar reinnervation reached their destination, a platform equally as their counterparts control without reinnervation (Willson, Bower & Sherrard, 2007). These studies indicate that plasticity in the form of reinnervation is promoting the rats to develop spatial learning.
This strategy would become adaptive when it helps the animals to travel in specific routes for finding or locating their prey, a commonly observed behavior. It is reasonable to connect this study hypothesis to the routine life in humans who take diverse pathways for earning their livelihood. The above study strengthens an earlier description that highlighted the role of activity-dependent plasticity for physiological adaptations induced by injury, by learning-associated practice, etc (Dobkin, 2004). Hence, it may indicate that the practice of spatial learning may have beneficial implications for neurorestorative in individuals with neurodegenerative disorders.
Techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging and transcranial magnetic stimulation were considered as new approaches for influencing the activity-dependent plasticity by contributing to the inherent adaptability of anatomical nodes (Dobkin, 2004). It is obvious that these techniques may better mold the brain to physically adapt to a wide range of environmental conditions especially for individuals suffering from neurological impairments such as stroke or traumatic brain injury.
Previously, it was reported that cortical stimulation could induce changes in the excitability of the cerebral cortex in humans and is proved to be promising for stroke patients (Talelli, Rothwell, & Sobell, 2006). This is because the ultimate task for stroke patients would be to meet physical challenges. It was reported that plasticity within the cortical connections of the brain after stroke leads to a partial functional recovery after the initial injury indicating its significance (Carmichael, 2003).
This became evident when the neuronal activity induced axonal sprouting after ischemic stroke lesions resemble axonal elongation of the normally developing brain. This functional recovery might better enable stroke patients to perform environmentally adapted activities of daily life.
Further, neural plasticity induced neurogenesis was indicated to possess a relationship with adaptive behavior roles like learning and memory in adults (Schaffer & Gage, 2004). Therefore, it may be inferred that neuroplasticity provides essential neuronal wiring by providing cells adapted to execute diverse neuronal functions. It is reasonable to connect this description of neuroplasticity with stem cells that have the potential to renew themselves and give rise to other cells. Peterson (2002) reported that there may be a possibility of exploiting the plasticity potential to engage neural stem cells to achieve structural brain repair. This strategy has implications in restoring the adaptive functions associated with neural cell damage.
Further, advances in neuro research have shed light on neuroplasticity-induced vision therapy. Stroke patients may suffer from vision defects. It may indicate that neuronal plasticity would be beneficial for stroke patients and for a wide range of ophthalmological defects believed to be associated with neuronal cell defects. Therefore, it can be concluded that the benefit of molding a brain lies in making it better adapted to environmental tasks like spatial learning, memory-enabled behavior, structural repair of adapted cells, and vision restoration.
- Willson, M.L., Bower, A.J., Sherrard, R.M. (2007). Developmental neural plasticity and its cognitive benefits: olivocerebellar reinnervation compensates for spatial function in the cerebellum. Eur J Neurosci, 25, 1475-83. Web.
- Dobkin, B.H. (2004). Neurobiology of rehabilitation. Ann N Y Acad Sci, 1038, 148-70. Web.
- Carmichael, S.T. (2003). Plasticity of cortical projections after stroke. Neuroscientist, 9, 64-75. Web.
- Talelli, P, Rothwell, J., Sobell (2006). Does brain stimulation after stroke have a future? Curr Opin Neurol, 19, 543-50.
- Neuroplasticity – the Key to Stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury Vision Rehabilitation. (n.d). Web.