Article Review “The Neurobiology of Learning: Implications for Treatment of Adults with Brain Injury.”

Neistadt, M. (1994). The Neurobiology of Learning: Implications for Treatment of Adults with Brain Injury. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 48 (5), 421-430.

Types of Recovery Mechanisms After Injury Occurs to the Brain:

  • Plasticity of axons and synapses
    • Physical changes in surviving axons/ synapses
      • Axonal regeneration (to regrow or replace damaged axons/ synapses)
      • Pruning response: axonal growth with undamaged axons that may have some branches that were injured
      • Collateral Sprouting: uninjured axons that send new axons into damaged areas to replace the damaged axons
      • Formation of additional active nerve sites in an existing synapse (no additional axonal growth) to establish new synaptic contacts (ie. no axonal growth, but current synapses become more active)
  • Functional Reorganization
    • “to activate intact nerve cells in novel patterns to effect given behaviors”
    • Patterns of brain activation change after injury
      • post-injury the temporal lobe may become active (as observed in a PET scan) during an activity that didn’t activate the temporal lobe prior to the injury

*This article suggests that the human nervous system is an active structure that is capable of change in neuronal configurations beyond the years of development. The brain is capable of learning and recovering from brain injury. Some factors that affect the brain’s level of capability with plasticity and functional reorganization are: genetics, age, mental/ physical health status, severity of injury, and amount/ quality of environmental stimuli in the individual’s life.

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