But a stroke in a baby -- even a big one -- does not have the same lasting impact as a stroke in an adult. A study led by Georgetown University Medical Center investigators found that a decade or two after a "perinatal" stroke damaged the left "language" side of the brain, affected teenagers and young adults used the right sides of their brain for language.
The findings, to be reported Feb. 17 in a symposium at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in Austin, Tex., demonstrates how "plastic" brain function is in infants, says cognitive neuroscientist Elissa L. Newport, PhD, professor of neurology at Georgetown University School of Medicine, and director of the Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery at Georgetown University and MedStar National Rehabilitation Network.
Study - Individuals - Stroke - Side - Brains
Her study found that the 12 individuals studied, aged 12 to 25, who had a left-brain perinatal stroke all used the right side of their brains for language. "Their language is good -- normal," she says.
The only telltale signs of prior damage to their brain are that some study individuals limp a bit and many have learned to make their left hands dominant because the stroke left right hand function impaired. They also have some executive function impairments -- slightly slower neural processing, for example -- that are common in individuals with brain injuries. But basic cognitive functions, like language comprehension and production, are excellent, Newport says.
Studies - Language - Participants - Side - Region
Furthermore, imaging studies revealed that language in these participants is all based in the right side in an exact, mirror opposite region to the left normal language areas. This has also been found in previous research, but earlier findings have been inconsistent, perhaps due to the heterogeneity of the types of brain injuries...
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