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How do the brains of aphasic stroke patients cope with lost function? What mechanisms underlie the often substantial, and occasionnally considerable recovery that proceeds for weeks—long after the classic acute cellular derangements (for example, ischaemic penumbra, oedema) have subsided? This is an important issue for neurology, because better knowledge of the underlying mechanisms should result in time in novel and more efficient management of the individual patient. Thus future approaches to enhance recovery may be directed at the cellular level (for example, manipulating neurotransmission or trophic factors), the cognitive level (for example, individually designed language rehabilitation), or both. However, this is a formidable challenge, because as language is essentially unique to human beings, the investigations must be carried out directly in patients. It has proved generally difficult to test in humans the neurobiological hypotheses …
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