Abbiamo ricevuto una lettera dal Professor Butler, uno dei massimi esperti dei meccanismi di plasticità e rigenerazione che seguono alla distruzione dei neuroni nel sistema nervoso di mammiferi adulti. Stuart R. Butler, direttore del Burden Neurological Institute di Bristol, ha studiato i processi di sviluppo post-lesionale sia come ricercatore di base in vari modelli animali, sia in qualità di neurofisiologo e neurologo in ricerche sulla base neurofunzionale del recupero clinico. Tra i suoi numerosi lavori citiamo i seguenti:
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.
Abbiamo deciso di pubblicare sul sito web questa lettera, perché ci sembra possa bene introdurre il dibattito sui problemi della ricerca sulla rigenerazione neurale e sulle terapie correlate, cui BM&L dedica una parte considerevole del suo impegno.
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,