We received a letter from Professor Butler in which he refers to his recent experience.
Stuart R. Butler, director of the Burden Neurological Institute of Bristol, is one of the major scientists of the field; he has studied both neural plasticity as a basic researcher and recovery following stroke as a neurologist. Among his writings and conferences we remind the following works:
Butler S. R. The effects of neonatal commissurotomy on perceptual learning in interhemispheric transfer in the rhesus monkey, in Functional Recovery from Brain Damage. Van Hof M.W., Mohn G. (Eds), 53-64, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1981.
Butler S. R. Mechanisms for recovery from brain damage, Arch Ital Riabil Sci Neurol 2, 10-26, 1988.
Butler S. R. Neural Mechanisms for Rehabilitation (Italian), in La Riabilitazione Cognitiva assistita da computers, 257-274, Marrapese, Rome, 1989.
Lately Butler held a conference on the role of electrophysiology in recovery of patients suffering from traumatic brain injury at S. Raffaele Pisana, Rome, March 1st, 2003.
We decided to post the e-mail on the website because it appears as a good introduction to the problems and the debate on research and therapies in some ways related to neural regeneration, which BM&L dedicates considerable efforts.
Dear Dr Perrella,
It was good to meet you again in Rome on Saturday.
I have visited the brainmindlife.org website and read your assessment
of the current situation with regard to regeneration. It is a very
informative and well balanced article which realistically appraises
not only the potential benefit but also the known problems which
remain to be overcome. I endorse everything you have said and believe
that real advances in this field depend upon such realistic appraisal
of the bad news as well as the good.
It would be interesting to know what you are doing in this field now,
what experience you have of trying to benefit patients with the
current state of knowledge […]
At one time, I was doing work on neural plasticity in animal models
(my own experience with restitution of function was disappointing) but
you may have heard a review lecture I gave in Italy on the prospects
which seemed (at the time) to follow from the work in the United
States of Merzenich, Nudo, Xerri, Sanes and others in that field. I
have since heard Merzenich speak at a neurorehabilitation meeting in
London and was rather surprised to hear the claims being made.
More recently my colleagues and I have been looking at the effects of
training people with movement and visual disorders following stroke in
an effort to promote recovery. Our experience in people, though still
very limited, has been rather different from what one might expect
from the animal work and from what Merzenich is claiming in public
Look forward to hearing from you,
With kind regards,