Cognition Enhancement for Brain Injured Friday, Dec 12 2008 

tmsDeficits in cognitive functioning can occur quite frequently in a variety of neurological diseases. These diseases include neurodegenerative disorders, stroke and even traumatic brain injury. Researchers have now recently been investigating new neurotechnology methods to stimulate areas of the brain. Transcranial magnetic stimulation and transcranial direct current stimulation can both alter the brain non-invasively. Each one has the ability to generate an electric current within the brain. This current is able to excite or inhibit specific brain regions.

The main problem with these treatments is that they are limited in their targeting ability. They can only stimulate brain regions that are close to a person’s skull. So deeper brain regions are currently off limit to these brain stimulation neurotechnologies. Researchers have used brain stimulation techniques to improve the capacity of brain memory.

Techniques for brain stimulation may increasingly find use for brain injury disorders such as anoxic brain injury. They have the potential to alter the brain through neuroplasticity. They could improve functioning for many different people. Transcranial magnetic stimulation, for instance, has been used to help arouse a coma patient. So these are some powerful tools that can do all sorts of useful things.

Brain stimulation of the future will increasingly have more targeting accuracy and will be able to penetrate deeper into the brain. I suspect that eventually scientists will able to target any region of the brain for non-invasive brain stimulation. This would allow the excitation or inhibition of any brain regions. You can read more about the use of brain stimulation for cognitive functioning at the brain stimulation journal. Here’ s the abstract for the paper.

Cognitive deficits are a common consequence of neurologic disease, in particular, of traumatic brain injury, stroke, and neurodegenerative disorders, and there is evidence that specific cognitive training may be effective in cognitive rehabilitation. Several investigations emphasize the fact that interacting with cortical activity, by means of cortical stimulation, can positively affect the short-term cognitive performance and improve the rehabilitation potential of neurologic patients.

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Brain Modulation Conference Friday, Dec 5 2008 

The International Neuromodulation Society (INS) has a new conference meeting that will last until December 7th. They will have a variety of scientists who will discuss various neuromodulation techniques that may improve a number of brain disorders. These neuromodulation techniques have the capacity to improve many different types of brain injuries in the future. You can read the press release about this new conference here.

Stroke Rehabilitation. The idea that the adult brain can reorganize to restore normal function after sustaining trauma is well accepted, but the means to achieving such rehabilitation is still a work-in-progress. A recent clinical trial – EVEREST – tested the idea that directly stimulating the brain with electrical signals coupled with classical rehabilitation techniques may speed the recovery of movement. Dr. Robert Levy, a neurosurgeon at Northwestern University in Chicago,will report new analyses of the trial data which suggest that this approach may be successful in some, but not all, stroke victims.

This conference will discuss the new ways of improving conditions associated with brain injury and other brain disorders such as hypoxic brain injury or brain stem injury.   Scientists are increasingly utilizing neuroplastic mechanisms to shape the brain for beneficial effect. They will also talk about new brain imaging methods that will be used to processes for specific brain disorders.