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Treatment and Recovery from Brain Damage
In Encyclopaedia of Cognitive Science. Vol 1, p410-416 London: Nature Publishing Group
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Recent studies have demonstrated that the human adult brain is capable of more plasticity than previously thought, since natural recovery can and does occur over time not only in children but also in adults. In addition to natural recovery there is increasing evidence that rehabilitation can result in improvements of both sensori-motor and cognitive functioning. Despite this evidence, there is considerable variability in the nature and extent of such recovery and there are clearly limits to the amount of recovery and improvement possible in people with non-progressive brain injury. We are now faced with a number of questions such as: (i) What factors limit the recovery process? Can neurogenesis, for example, lead to cells that can survive in sufficient numbers and integrate in ways to improve everyday functioning? (ii) When should rehabilitation programmes begin, during the spontaneous recovery process or later? (iii) How should we determine whether to aim for plasticity, regeneration or compensation? Should we be influenced solely by the severity of the lesion, the cognitive function affected, the time post-insult, or all of these?