Cerebral Ischemia, which is when the brain receives low blood flow, caused brain cells to die which affects brain function – or so we thought. The use of MRIs has shown that ischemia actually alters the maturation of the neurons; they don’t necessarily die. By catching this irregular blood flow early, measures can be taken to revive the damaged neurons. These measures can be as simply as improving nutrition. Doing this not only improves cortical development but also lowers the chance of a premature birth.
The study involved fetal lambs experiencing cerebral ischemia. An MRI exam was given 1, 2, and 4 weeks after the detection of the ischemia. The cells were still alive. While synaptic density was lower, the cells of the brain were simply immature and underdeveloped. There was still hope to revive those parts of the brain.
“…Our findings suggest that neurons are not being permanently lost from the human cerebral cortex due to ischemia. This raises the possibility that neurodevelopmental enrichment – or perhaps improved early infant nutrition – as suggested by the companion paper, might make a difference in terms of improved cognitive outcome,” says Back, one of the experimenters.
To read more on the studies, the article can be found here.
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