Is there an optimal age for recovery from motor cortex lesions? I. Behavioral and anatomical sequelae of bilateral motor cortex lesions in rats on postnatal days 1, 10, and in adulthood.
ABSTRACT Rats were given bilateral lesions of the motor cortex on the day of birth (P1), tenth day of life (P10), or in adulthood. They were trained on several motor tasks (skilled forelimb reaching, beam traversing, tongue extension), general motor activity, and a test of spatial learning (Morris water task). Although all lesion groups were impaired at skilled reaching, the P10 group was less impaired than either of the other two lesion groups. Furthermore, on the other motor tests the P10 group did not differ from controls whereas both P1 and adult groups were impaired. Only the P1 lesion group was impaired at the acquisition of the Morris water task. Anatomical analyses revealed that the P1 and P10 rats had smaller brains than the other two groups as well as having a generalized decrease in cortical thickness. Dendritic analysis of layer III pyramidal cells in the parietal cortex revealed a decrease in apical arbor in the lesion groups and an increase in the basilar arbor of the P1 and adult lesion animals. The P1 and adult operated groups showed an increase in spine density in the basilar dendrites of layer V pyramidal cells. Finally, analysis of the pattern of corticospinal projections revealed that the P1 animals had a markedly wider field of corticospinal projection neurons than any of the other groups. The widespread anatomical changes in all lesion groups versus the relatively better behavioral recovery after P10 lesions suggests that day 10 represents an optimal period for adapting to brain damage and subsequent brain reorganization.
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ABSTRACT: Autism is a severe neurodevelopmental disorder with a population prevalence of 1 in 68, and dramatically increasing. While no single pharmacologic intervention has successfully targeted the core symptoms of autism, emerging evidence suggests that postnatal environmental manipulations may offer greater therapeutic efficacy. Massage therapy, or tactile stimulation (TS), early in life has repeatedly been shown to be an effective, low-cost, therapeutic approach in ameliorating the cognitive, social, and emotional symptoms of autism. While early TS treatment attenuates many of the behavioral aberrations among children with autism, the neuroanatomical correlates driving such changes are unknown. The present study assessed the therapeutic effects of early TS treatment on behavior and neuroanatomy using the valproic acid (VPA) rodent model of autism. Rats were prenatally exposed to VPA on gestational day 12.5 and received TS shortly following birth. Whereas TS reversed almost all the VPA-induced alterations in neuroanatomy, it failed to do so behaviorally. The TS VPA animals, when compared to VPA animals, did not exhibit altered or improved behavior in the delayed non-match-to-sample T-maze, Whishaw tray reaching, activity box, or elevated plus maze tasks. Anatomically, however, there were significant increases in dendritic branching and spine density in the medial prefrontal cortex, orbital frontal cortex, and amygdala in VPA animals following early TS treatment, suggesting a complete reversal or remediation of the VPA-induced effects in these regions. The results suggest that postnatal TS, during a critical period in development, acts as a powerful reorganization tool that can ameliorate the neuroanatomical consequences of prenatal VPA exposure. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier B.V.Behavioural brain research. 12/2014;
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ABSTRACT: Birth is a particularly vulnerable time for acquiring brain injury. Unfortunately, very few treatments are available for those affected. Here we explore the effectiveness of prenatal intervention in an animal model of early brain damage. We used a complex housing paradigm as a form of prenatal enrichment. Six nulliparous dams and one male rat were placed in complex housing (condomom group) for 12 h per day until the dams' delivered their pups. At parturition the dams were left in their home (standard) cages with their pups. Four dams were housed in standard cages (cagemom group) throughout pregnancy and with their pups until weaning. At postnatal day 3 (P3) infants of both groups received frontal cortex removals or sham surgery. Behavioral testing began on P60 and included the Morris water task and a skilled reaching task. Brains were processed for Golgi analyses. Complex housing of the mother had a significant effect on the behavior of their pups. Control animals from the condomom group outperformed those of the cagemom group in the water task. Condomom animals with lesions performed better than their cagemom cohorts in both the water task and in skilled reaching. Condomom animals showed an increase in cortical thickness at anterior planes and thalamic area at both anterior and posterior regions. Golgi analyses revealed an increase in spine density. These results suggest that prenatal enrichment alters brain organization in manner that is prophylactic for perinatal brain injury. This result could have significant implications for the prenatal management of infants expected to be at risk for difficult birth.Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 01/2014; 8:223. · 4.16 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Much progress has been made in understanding how behavioral experience and neural activity can modify the structure and function of neural circuits during development and in the adult brain. Studies of physiological and molecular mechanisms underlying activity-dependent plasticity in animal models have suggested potential therapeutic approaches for a wide range of brain disorders in humans. Physiological and electrical stimulations as well as plasticity-modifying molecular agents may facilitate functional recovery by selectively enhancing existing neural circuits or promoting the formation of new functional circuits. Here, we review the advances in basic studies of neural plasticity mechanisms in developing and adult nervous systems and current clinical treatments that harness neural plasticity, and we offer perspectives on future development of plasticity-based therapy.Neuron 10/2013; 80(3):729-41. · 15.77 Impact Factor