Neuroplasticity

As the name suggest, neuroplasticity explores the extent to which our neurological systems may be kinetic in their form, function and/or development.

Brittanica summarizes it as follows: neuroplasticity is "the capacity of neurons and neural networks in the brain to change their connections and behaviour in response to new information, sensory stimulation, development, damage, or dysfunction." (https://www.britannica.com/science/neuroplasticity)

I've always been fascinated by this type of research.

For example, A study in 2000 discovered that London taxi drivers have a larger hippocampus, (the brain structure known to be heavily involved in learning routes and spatial representations), than do London bus drivers. The study found that the size of the hippocampus correlated with the subject's length of time being a taxi driver, suggesting that driving taxis may develop and change the hippocampus. In other words, having to learn all of those streets had caused a demonstrable increase in the size of a drivers' hippocampus region. How cool is that?

This area of research became even more compelling, however, as it began to expose a new cutting edge of neuroplasticity research: the revelation that we may have large regenerative potential (much like a starfish) in the wake of damage caused by disease or injury.

In the area of MS, perhaps the most noteworthy application of regenerative concepts may have been a TED presentation by Dr. Terry Wahls (who had claimed to reverse her progressive MS almost entirely).

Although Dr. Wahls directed primary focus to her diet modification techniques (and her best-selling diet book, etc.), few people realized that an NMES therapy program also formed a central component to that noteworthy research program (activating neuroplasticity behaviors by electrical impulse, so as to stimulate re-myelination and/or the creation of alternate neural pathways). See ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/211...

Bottom line, a consensus appears to have been reached among the great minds of science that our neurological systems can regenerate, if only the proper environmental conditions and stimuli are present. Now, the hunt is on to identify and predictably replicate those ideal surroundings (through combinations of diet, external stimuli, MBM, etc.).

For those of you who want to learn more about this fascinating subject, here are some books that I'd recommend:

amazon.com/Neuroplasticity-...

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Anyone who has studied this area, or who has participated in related studies, programs or therapies, please also share your insights and experiences.

--Christopher

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  • GasLight, interesting topic. My former neuro told me that she believed my MRIs remained clear for so long because I was one of the few people (for whatever reason) with MS whose myelin repaired itself or regenerated. Years later, a neuro at the MS Clinic confirmed that it was possible.

    I've had a 'mild' course of MS compared to many others who've had it as long as I have. Although my relapses were sometimes lengthy and debilitating, my residual disability was minimal when I went into remission. My MRIs eventually showed plaques, but even after 25 years with the disease, I am doing okay. This past year has been rough though, and I am now SPMS. But still, I am thankful for where I've been and where I am today.

    My neuro also mentioned a new drug which is said to help with remyelination. She said she wouldn't recommend it for me. I believe there was some fear/talk of it causing cancer in a few people during trials. And no, I don't recall what it was. 🙄 I tend to walk out of my appointments retaining only half of what I heard. In my case, if I truly have this remyelination capability (I guess we'll discover whether that is so upon autopsy), it hasn't restored any of my missing cognition.

    I wish doing new things or trying to learn something new would grow my brain. As it is now, it only frustrates me. But I'm stubborn. I keep trying.

  • Hi Tutu! At my initial Dx, I was told something very similar, i.e., that my progression prior to then had been remarkably gradual. In fact, they spent a good bit of time inquiring about unique things in my lifestyle, etc. (to which I could only point to my strong relationship with the Lord, and a very large mineral water habit).

    There actually are now Neuroplasticity Exercises, which are supposed to strengthen and stimulate our brains in this regard. I'll try and make some of those a mañana addition to this regenerating thread.

  • Christopher, this is fascinating information! I haven't looked st the links yet, but will do so, and I thank you for putting them in your post.

  • Tutu i believe that drug is ocrelizumab. This is the drug that John recently reported is being delayed for release by a few mos. by the FDA

    It's similar to Rituxan, a cancer drug that has been used successfully off label for MS with few side effects.

    First drug with pos. Results both PPMS and RRMS

  • Well, I am more confused than I thought then. That myelin regeneration and drug risk discussion took place a year or so ago.

    At my most recent neuro appt, my doctor discussed ocrelizumab with me, and even recommended rituxan (along with 2 other drugs) she wanted my rheumy to start me on. Maybe I should take my husband with me at my next appt. 😉 He could keep all of this straight for me.

  • Tutu I may be incorrect about the name of the drug u were referring to. There are so many in the research pipeline

  • I'm sure it's me erash. I get confused...

  • And so do I Tutu 😜

  • Ooo, Gaslight, you have hit upon my most favouritest subject ! : )

    I'm a huge fan of neuroplasticity and banking on some axonal sprouting to get me through : )

    Neurophysio is based upon repetition of normal movement patterns to stimulate formation of new nerve pathways. Similarly, cognitive 'brain training' is thought to aid processing and expand capacity - as demonstrated by the London cabbies : )

    I am sure that nutrition is v. important in all health aspects - without the correct fuel the engine can't run efficiently and the engine is designed to have a built in repair system: it is not perfect and sometimes scarring will occur like in any wound healing process. If the original pathway is then 'blocked' with scar formation or absent, as in a gap from cell death ( such as in an oxgen starvation brain event ) it will try to reroute around the damaged area if possible to achieve a functional compromise. We can help encourage it with various activities.There is no info on whether the lady in the Tedx talk has evidence of shrunken lesions/ remyelination or whether her improvement it is down to new neural pathways bypassing the damaged areas - could even be a mixture of both ! Thanks for all the info - fascinating : )

    Angela x

  • GasLight Christopher

    I am a strong believer in neuro plasticity. One of your links, My Stroke of Insight, about a young neuroscientist who describes the changes in her brain as she experiences a stroke and later thru a nearly complete rehab, is a fascinating read.

    I highly recommend another of your links, Norman Droidge, The Brain that Changes Itself.

    Droidge discusses numerous cases and interventions that promote neuro plasticity and healing (music, feldenkreist (sp?) , tai chi, walking (repetitive movement exercise) to name a few). Some examples are specific to MS.

    Also in Driodge book, the PONS is a brain stimulator that is under the tongue. Research use in MS has demonstrated improvements in gait and other things!

    Love this topic. Thanks! For posting this.

    I'm going to check out your other links.

  • Gaslight, thank you for your post and information. I will have AJ read what you have posted and the links you have indicated. I am not familiar with these studies, but now, I definitely will continue to research. If there is ANY HOPE, we must avail ourselves with the knowledge, continue to learn, to make use to improve quality of life. Bless all of you, may this day bring happiness to you. Mary

  • I have always loved learning more about our bodies and what it can do.

    The human body is awesome!

    Thanks for the info. GasLight .

  • For those folks who'd like to see more in the way of topical introduction, and for all those who find video to be a more comfortable format, here is Dr. Norman Doidge (leader in this field) giving a fascinating interview on the subject of neuroplasticity and healing.