Brain plasticity from A to Z

December 16, 2015

At a Ted conference held some time ago, Roberto D'Angelo and Francesca Fedeli recounted the experience of their son Mario: struck by a cerebral infarction when he was only 10 days old, he seemed destined to live with only one half of his brain functioning, with all the difficulties such a condition would entail at the cognitive (and motor) level. But things went differently: at 2 years of age the boy (he can be seen in the video) can walk and speak like any other child of his age. It is not a miracle: even though Mario's case is particularly lucky (in part thanks to his parents' huge commitment to helping him), it is one of the many examples of the nervous system's ability to adapt successfully to adverse conditions. Scientists call it plasticity of the brain, a subject of great interest in neuroscience research, to which the journal Current Opinion in Neurobiology has now devoted its entire December issue, edited by Alessandro Treves, professor at the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste and Thomas Mrsic-Flogel of the University of Basel in Switzerland. The journal specialises in systematic reviews of the literature on given topics, which are crucial for providing the scientific community with an overall view of the relevant research.

"The issue we edited aimed to bring together and conceptually connect different fields of research that rarely communicate with one another: it explores the different levels of brain plasticity from the chemical reactions taking place in synapses right up to plasticity in behaviour, passing through the different stages, and with a foray also into artificial intelligence", explains Treves.

Many researchers, many facets

"On the publisher's request, to put this issue together we collected about thirty reviews written by experts in the field", continues Treves. Which are the most significant contributions? "For example, the paper by Judit Gervain, former SISSA student now at Université Paris Descartes, devoted to language plasticity at birth, or the review by Agnes Kovacs, also a former SISSA student and now at the Central European University of Budapest, on the cognitive flexibility associated with bilingualism. Or still another interesting piece is the paper about "deep learning" - the new buzz word in artificial intelligence - written by Yasser Roudi, a brilliant ex-SISSA student now at the Kavli Institute, who last April won the Eric Kandel prize, awarded to a young neuroscientist every two years.

International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)

Related Brain Articles from Brightsurf:

Glioblastoma nanomedicine crosses into brain in mice, eradicates recurring brain cancer
A new synthetic protein nanoparticle capable of slipping past the nearly impermeable blood-brain barrier in mice could deliver cancer-killing drugs directly to malignant brain tumors, new research from the University of Michigan shows.

Children with asymptomatic brain bleeds as newborns show normal brain development at age 2
A study by UNC researchers finds that neurodevelopmental scores and gray matter volumes at age two years did not differ between children who had MRI-confirmed asymptomatic subdural hemorrhages when they were neonates, compared to children with no history of subdural hemorrhage.

New model of human brain 'conversations' could inform research on brain disease, cognition
A team of Indiana University neuroscientists has built a new model of human brain networks that sheds light on how the brain functions.

Human brain size gene triggers bigger brain in monkeys
Dresden and Japanese researchers show that a human-specific gene causes a larger neocortex in the common marmoset, a non-human primate.

Unique insight into development of the human brain: Model of the early embryonic brain
Stem cell researchers from the University of Copenhagen have designed a model of an early embryonic brain.

An optical brain-to-brain interface supports information exchange for locomotion control
Chinese researchers established an optical BtBI that supports rapid information transmission for precise locomotion control, thus providing a proof-of-principle demonstration of fast BtBI for real-time behavioral control.

Transplanting human nerve cells into a mouse brain reveals how they wire into brain circuits
A team of researchers led by Pierre Vanderhaeghen and Vincent Bonin (VIB-KU Leuven, Université libre de Bruxelles and NERF) showed how human nerve cells can develop at their own pace, and form highly precise connections with the surrounding mouse brain cells.

Brain scans reveal how the human brain compensates when one hemisphere is removed
Researchers studying six adults who had one of their brain hemispheres removed during childhood to reduce epileptic seizures found that the remaining half of the brain formed unusually strong connections between different functional brain networks, which potentially help the body to function as if the brain were intact.

Alcohol byproduct contributes to brain chemistry changes in specific brain regions
Study of mouse models provides clear implications for new targets to treat alcohol use disorder and fetal alcohol syndrome.

Scientists predict the areas of the brain to stimulate transitions between different brain states
Using a computer model of the brain, Gustavo Deco, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, and Josephine Cruzat, a member of his team, together with a group of international collaborators, have developed an innovative method published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Sept.

Read More: Brain News and Brain Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to