Children’s brain can recover from ictus and develop language ability thanks to its plasticity

When adults suffer from a brain ictus affecting the left cerebral hemisphere –more in particular, a structure called arcuate fasciculus- lose language skills in general and take these back with difficulties, if they ever do. However, this process is different in babies that suffer cerebrovascular injuries during their first days of life and which affect the same brain region.

Although the perinatal cerebrovascular injury damages the left arcuate fasciculus, plasticity in children’s brains develops regular language skills when aged four.

This is the main conclusion of a study published in the journal eNeuro by a multidisciplinary team co-led by the Cognition and Brain Plasticity research group at Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL-UB) and the Attention, Perception and Acquisition Of Language (APAL) group of Institute of Neurosciences UB. Other participants in the study are the experts from the Research Institute Sant Joan de Déu (IRSJD), the New York University (United States), and McGill University in Montreal (Canada), among others.


According to the experts, this fact results from the ability of our brain to reconnect in several ways, in particular during the first childhood. In these cases, “the brain is showing its ability to use other areas of the opposite hemisphere to the injured one –that is, the right hemisphere- that will take care of the language acquisition and will support it up to a regular level, which is good news”, notes the researcher Laura Bosch, expert on language development .


The arcuate fasciculus is one of the most relevant pathways connecting different brain regions. It is present in both hemispheres, but the left side arcuate fasciculus is very important for a proper development of the language and its learning, both in children and in adults. According to the conclusions, responding to a perinatal cerebrovascular injury, children’s brains set language functions to the right hemisphere. 


Other participants in the study were the experts Clément François, Antoni Rodríguez Fornells and Laura Ferreri and Jorgina Solé (UB-UBNeuro-IDIBELL), as well as Jordi Muchart, Carme Fons, Mónica Rebollo and Alfredi García (IRSJD-UB).


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