Neuroscientists Challenge Common Belief: Brain’s ‘Rewiring’ Abilities Debunked

New Delhi,- Contrary to the widely held notion, neuroscientists are challenging the belief that the brain possesses the ability to rewire itself to compensate for the loss of sight, amputation, or stroke. Despite being commonly cited in scientific textbooks, researchers argue that the idea of the brain reorganizing itself and repurposing specific regions for new functions is fundamentally flawed.

According to an article published in the journal eLife, the researchers assert that what occurs in response to injury or deficit is not a rewiring of the brain but rather the training of the brain to utilize latent abilities that already exist. John Krakauer, Director of the Center for the Study of Motor Learning and Brain Repair at Johns Hopkins University, notes, “The idea that our brain has an amazing ability to rewire and reorganize itself is an appealing one. It gives us hope and fascination, especially when we hear extraordinary stories of blind individuals developing almost superhuman echolocation abilities or stroke survivors miraculously regaining lost motor abilities.”

Krakauer further explains that while such stories may be true, the commonly accepted explanation of a wholesale repurposing of brain regions is incorrect. The neuroscientists examine ten seminal studies in their article that purportedly demonstrate the brain’s ability to reorganize.

One of these studies, conducted in the 1980s at the University of California, San Francisco, focused on the loss of a finger. The study suggested that the brain rewired itself by reallocating the area previously designated for the forefinger to process signals from neighboring fingers. However, the co-author of the eLife article, Tamar Makin, disputes this finding.

The researchers contend that these studies, while intriguing, do not support the widely held belief in the brain’s capacity for wholesale rewiring. The article challenges the current understanding of brain plasticity and emphasizes the need for a more nuanced perspective on the brain’s response to injury or sensory changes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *