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Brain region provides 'back-up' after stroke

3rd May 2007

A 'back-up' region of the brain has been discovered, which springs into action following a stroke.

The finding is said to offer new insights into how the brains of stroke victims can reorganise to cope with the effects of a stroke.

The region, called the dorsal premotor cortex (PMd), is present on both sides of the brain and is used to govern the selection of an action.

The researchers found that when one side is damaged, the other takes on extra activity.

To test the responsiveness of each PMd, the researchers disrupted one side and measured the ability of participants to react in a series of button-pushing exercises.

It was found that performance recovered quickly after a brief disruption.

The researchers said that because of the PMd's role in connections between eye and motor function, it "is particularly well placed to mediate learning of new motor strategies after brain damage results in the normal routes to action being compromised".

The researchers concluded: "In the initial stages of adaptive compensation for neuronal interference, the adult brain exploits pre-established patterns of functional specialisation.

"When a key node in an information-processing circuit is impaired, healthy cortal networks can flexibly reconfigure processing in a way that is rapid, functionally-specific and preserves behaviour."