Depriving the brain of a sense may improve stroke recovery

Trimming the whiskers of mice suggests that blocking off some functions of the brain can help it rewire itself around stroke damage, speeding up recovery

Recovery from a stroke is unpredictable and can take months. But research in mice suggests that blocking off some functions of the brain can help it rewire itself to work around stroke damage.

Jin-Moo Lee, of Washington University, St Louis, and his team have found that when they trim the whiskers of mice, these animals recover from strokes more quickly, and show more of an improvement.

“It’s the first study to demonstrate that we can make certain parts of the brain more receptive to rewiring,” says Lee. “We have the ability to actually accelerate and improve recovery.”

In their experiment, Lee’s team gave mice strokes in a part of their brains that is responsible for processing sensations felt in their right forepaws. The team then trimmed the whiskers of half of the mice, and kept them short for

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