Dynamic neuroplacticity after human prefrontal cortex damage


Memory and attention deficits are common after prefrontal cortex (PFC) damage, yet people generally recover some function over time. Recovery is thought to be dependent upon undamaged brain regions, but the temporal dynamics underlying cognitive recovery are poorly understood. Here, we provide evidence that the intact PFC compensates for damage in the lesioned PFC on a trial-by-trial basis dependent on cognitive load. The extent of this rapid functional compensation is indexed by transient increases in electrophysiological measures of attention and memory in the intact PFC, detectable within a second after stimulus presentation and only when the lesioned hemisphere is challenged. These observations provide evidence supporting a dynamic and flexible model of compensatory neural plasticity.