We have completed maintenance on DiscoverMagazine.com and action may be required on your account. Learn More


Year In Science

Jan 13, 2002 6:00 AMNov 12, 2019 6:38 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Hope for Stroke PatientsA brain severely injured by stroke or other calamities may be more adaptable to recovery than previously thought. A neuroscience team led by Claus Hilgetag of Boston University's School of Medicine reported in September that temporarily knocking out one-half of the brain can boost the performance of the other half. Researchers fired focused magnetic pulses through the skulls of healthy volunteers for 10 minutes to temporarily induce hemispatial neglect, mimicking the damage caused by a brain lesion. "Magnetic stimulation gave us a window during which we could study modified behavior," says Hilgetag. With the left or right parietal cortex numbed, the test subjects were less able to detect objects placed in the visual field controlled by the numb side of their brain and did even worse still if there was also an object in the functioning half of the field. But they were better at spotting objects with the unaffected half of their brain. "Creating a lesion on one side seems to improve functioning in the unimpaired hemisphere," says Hilgetag. The findings suggest that normal mental activity results from a battle between the brain's many different areas, says Oxford psychologist Vincent Walsh. "We are familiar with this idea in daily life—you can excel at one skill only at the expense of others." Competition seems to be present at every level, from nerve cells to hemispheres, Walsh says. "It's challenging to think that all these brain regions could be working for themselves. — Diane Martindale

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.