Neurocognitive Brain Response to Transient Impairment of Wernicke's Area

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This study examined how the brain system adapts and reconfigures its information processing capabilities to maintain cognitive performance after a key cortical center [left posterior superior temporal gyrus (LSTGp)] is temporarily impaired during the performance of a language comprehension task. By applying repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to LSTGp and concurrently assessing the brain response with functional magnetic resonance imaging, we found that adaptation consisted of 1) increased synchronization between compensating regions coupled with a decrease in synchronization within the primary language network and 2) a decrease in activation at the rTMS site as well as in distal regions, followed by their recovery. The compensatory synchronization included 3 centers: The contralateral homolog (RSTGp) of the area receiving rTMS, areas adjacent to the rTMS site, and a region involved in discourse monitoring (medial frontal gyrus). This approach reveals some principles of network-level adaptation to trauma with potential application to traumatic brain injury, stroke, and seizure.

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