“Here again, traditional beliefs about the structure and function of the brain are being challenged.  It was once thought that if a particular area of the brain was damaged, then a particular function would be lost.  It was also believed that brain damage was permanent – that the brain could not be repaired or repair itself.  (Ratey/ug/167)”

“There are many documented cases in which patients who have sustained brain or spinal-cord damage have shown significant improvement.  This goes for lost motor function as well as other brain functions such as language.  These incredible recoveries…are attributed largely to coping strategies that patients’ brains have developed to compensate for the damage.  (Ratey/ug/167)”

“Researchers are exploring the brain’s own natural capacities to repair nerve damage.  Neuroplasticity is a new term that describes the ability of nerve cells to change and modify their activity in response to changes in the environment.  [they are not saying here, to grow new cells]  This capacity may be instrumental in the brain cells’ ability to resist or overcome injury and disease.  Recent research suggests that although a given neuron may display a particular function, it is likely to take part in other functions as well.  The ability of neurons to perform more than one function may have significant implications for helping people with brain and spinal-cord damage to reverse motor loss.  (Ratey/ug/167)”


“Recent research has overturned the old neurological dogma that adult brains cannot renew themselves.  It used to be thought that neural stem cells – which divide to produce nerve cells in an embryonic brain – shut down in adulthood.  But Brent Reynolds and Sam Weiss at Neurospheres, a Canadian biotechnology company, have show that stem cells are still alive and well in adults.  They just need to be switched on again.  This prompting is done with growth factors – molecules that stimulate tissue growth by turning genes on and off and then maintain mature organs.  Reynolds has shown in controlled experiments that stem cells treated with growth factors can be persuaded to produce new nerve cells.  If these can be successfully transplanted back into the patient’s brain, they might solve the problem, with no ethical issues or worries about rejection or disease.  (Ratey/ug/169)”

“Yet another alternative is being pursued by Ontogeny, a company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that is working with the potent, if improbably named, protein “sonic hedgehog.”  This is one of the growth factors that – in a lab setting, at least – transforms stem cells directly into mature dopamine producers.  Ontogeny is betting it will be able to do the same in vivo.  Its researchers are now shooting sonic hedgehog directly into the brains of mice to see what happens.  Human testing will come later.  (Ratey/ug/169)”

Fred Gage, of the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California and Mark Tuszynski, of the University of California at San Diego — experiments with skin cells, adding a few new genes to make neuronal growth factors, and they multiplied.  “Then they implanted the daughter cells back into damaged areas” in rats.  “Rats with severed spinal cords that received these grafted cells have been able to regrown neurons and regain some function.  (Ratey/ug/170)”

“Amgen, one of the oldest and largest biotechnology companies around, has begun clinical trials of a growth factor called GDNF.  The trials, however, require regular injections of GDNF straight into the brain.  So, presumably, will Ontogeny’s.  This means that a sufferer has to have a hole drilled in his skull, and a catheter fitted.  (Ratey/ug/169)”

“Research is also under way by Professor Jeffrey Gray and the Institute of Psychiatry at London’s Maudsley Hospital to see whether transplants or regeneration might replace brain cells that die from lack of oxygen during stroke or heart attack.  (Ratey/ug/170)”

monkey research performed by William Jenkins and Michael Merzenich at the University of California at San Francisco “…demonstrates how training can produce functional reorganization in the cerebral cortex and has important implications for rehabilitation therapy.  (Ratey/ug/170)”


12 thoughts on “++DAMAGE AND REPAIR

    • I heard the first minute or two before my computer gave up — but enough for me to issue my perpetual warning.

      Any presentation of information about the resiliency and plasticity potential of the human brain that does not begin with a clear statement of the facts about how our experiences in our earliest caregiving environment before age two set into place the architecture of our brain, selecting which neurons will live or die, in what regions they will live or die — how these communities of neurons will communicate with one another in patterns within circuits —

      All this determining whether we had built within us a brain — along with every other system in our body — that was built within a malevolent world or a benevolent world.

      I essentially see this whole topic like this: Once we have a body, if we are lucky enough to have two arms, two arms with ten fingers — we can move these around in different ways and do different things with them. But we will NEVER grow more arms, hands or fingers. We work with what we were born with —

      or as in the case of our brain — what forces within our earliest caregiving environment allowed us to leave toddlerhood with

      Presentations about the brain that do not back up to conception before they begin to spew out “facts” about how marvelously competent the human brain is to change itself, to repair itself — are, to my thinking, dangerous proselytizers who, while speaking for their strata of brain-built society are misleading the rest of us.

      • Again, it is most important as severe early abuse and trauma survivors for us to know the information that can be found at the top two links that appear if you use this term in an online search:

        “stop the storm teicher article”

      • I’m of the same belief that once the brain is altered there is no going back. I’ve decided to STOP neurofeedback, as a result of further research and lack of and also- I’m still in a malevolent environment

        • All the wonderful “Gee, isn’t the brain marvelous” information still applies to people like us — but in different ways. After I wrote my chapter this morning – I posted – Toxic Empathy — I have a strange sensation that I am no longer writing myself THROUGH this book. I am writing myself INTO this book.

          I am sensing a different version of myself, one that doesn’t “match the benevolent environment” that most people are in — because they were built within such an environment. It’s like I have had to filter out WHO I truly am based on HOW I truly am — nearly completely out of my ongoing life — because I don’t match, I don’t fit.

          But as I write I can hear, beginning today, my REAL voice beginning to come forth. Ours is not a fluffy story. It is a harsh, tough one — and the facts of our existence DO and WILL seem very foreign to ordinarily built people

          I find it interesting that my closer-to-who-I-really-am voice lumped everyone who cannot hear another person’s pain-filled truth together.

          A matter of degrees. I can envision a different world in which you and I COULD be truly HEARD. We could be valued as the incredible miracles of survival that we are. We could be honored, learned from, appreciated.

          But, no. My mother did none of that for me — and it is a truly rare “regular” person who has the slightest motivation to see anything other than the world they understand — which is in so many ways so different from ours

          Just another chapter in this story I am working through…..

          Meanwhile — I am very sorry you continue to suffer in a malevolent world! I don’t know if you have ever sought services from a woman’s shelter — you certainly qualify. You absolutely do not deserve what you are getting. I hope you get out — SOON!!!!

          • I could seek the services of a women’s shelter..I could do that.But where would they discharge me in six weeks?They’d throw me into a bigger “Hell”.Description of bigger “Hell”: poverty ( $1100 a month),crime and starvation. I don’t have what it takes to take care of all my needs let alone my growing sons needs. I’ve weighed all my options..and I know the world I’m in is MY ONLY OPTION.Let’s face it- my options are few.

            Take someone that is emotionally two, throw them out on their own with two teen boys…end result..

            • I’m a low functioning BPD .I’ve never obtained a driver’s permit, or any meaningful employment I have no friends, social outings, bank account.I think I’ve faded into non-existence.( I’m very low on the adaptive functioning scale or range).If I were to venture out on my own I would have to find safe housing, meaningful employment and on-going emotional/mental health support.I’ve been researching an exist plan and my situation is very bleak.I honestly can’t.So, we stay as I can’t continue to raise my children without significant help.Sad reality for a BPD sufferer…we never escape.

              • …and, someone told me the other day, “where there’s a will- there’s a way”, apparently I’m not trying hard enough.I told her, “I don’t have your resilience, I’m afraid of people, and I can’t stop fighting with everyone”.I just wish I could stop, start, feel, and thrive…

                • I was thinking that maybe at least a counselor at a shelter would talk to you and BE ON YOUR SIDE 100%%

                  They have seen it all, I imagine — and must be entirely realistic

                  I know poverty – I know how fragile well-being feels. My income is $701 but I did finally get HUD help with my rent.

                  There’s nothing I can say that you haven’t already thought of…….

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