April 14, 2021

Simulating lesion-dependent functional recovery mechanisms

Functional recovery after brain damage varies widely and depends on many factors, including lesion site and extent. When a neuronal system is damaged, recovery may occur by engaging residual (e.g., perilesional) components. When damage is extensive, recovery depends on the availability of other intact neural structures that can reproduce the same functional output (i.e., degeneracy). A system’s response to damage may occur rapidly, require learning, or both. Here, we simulate functional recovery from four different types of lesions, using a generative model of word repetition that comprised a default premorbid system and a less used alternative system. The synthetic lesions (i) completely disengaged the premorbid system, leaving the alternative system intact, (ii) partially damaged both premorbid and alternative systems, and (iii) limited the experience-dependent plasticity of both. The results, across 1000 trials, demonstrate that (i) a complete disconnection of the premorbid system naturally invoked the engagement of the other, (ii) incomplete damage to both systems had a much more devastating long-term effect on model performance, and (iii) the effect of reducing learning capacity within each system. These findings contribute to formal frameworks for interpreting the effect of different types of lesions.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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