One of the most interesting things in the human body is the brain, the organ that seperates us from lower animals. The human brain contains more than 100,000,000,000 neurons, each of which is connected to thousands of others. The brain is responsible for “cognition, emotion, memory, and motor, and other forms of learning, … most sensory systems, movement, behavior, … heart rate, blood pressure, fluid balance, and body temperature.”
I just read an amazing story from New Scientist. Basically, a man whose brain had been severly damaged in a car accident woke up after 19 years in a coma. His brain had rewired and rerouted its functionality to undamaged portions of the brain, forming novel structures:
The team’s findings suggest that Wallis’s brain had, very gradually, developed new pathways and completely novel anatomical structures to re-establish functional connections, compensating for the brain pathways lost in the accident.
The idea that the brain can self-repair over the years challenges the idea that once a patient is diagnosed brain-dead, there’s no chance of recovery:
Krish Sathian, a neurologist and specialist in brain rehabilitation at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, US, describes it as an amazing finding. “The bounds on the possible extent of neural plasticity just keep on shifting,” he says. “Classical teaching would not have predicted any of these changes.”
Patients with brain damage should probably require continuous evaluation instead of the initial assessment they receive once. If there’s a way to measure the recovery rate of a damaged brain, a lot of lives could be saved.
|This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 4th, 2006 at 2:52 pm and is tagged with emory university school of medicine, brain pathways, emory university school, neural plasticity, new pathways, novel structures, new scientist, lower animals, human brain, brain dead, brain damage, anatomical structures, fluid balance, continuous evaluation, sensory systems, krish, initial assessment, neurologist, school of medicine, heart rate. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback.|