Table of Contents
Advances in Neuroscience
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 462765, 28 pages
Review Article

Structure-Function Relationships behind the Phenomenon of Cognitive Resilience in Neurology: Insights for Neuroscience and Medicine

Laboratory of Functional Imaging (LIF), INSERM U678S, 91 Boulevard de l’Hôpital, 75013 Paris, France

Received 2 December 2013; Revised 7 April 2014; Accepted 8 April 2014; Published 4 August 2014

Academic Editor: Jan Gläscher

Copyright © 2014 David Rudrauf. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The phenomenon of cognitive resilience, that is, the dynamical preservation of normal functions despite neurological disorders, demonstrates that cognition can be highly robust to devastating brain injury. Here, cognitive resilience is considered across a range of neurological conditions. Simple computational models of structure-function relationships are used to discuss hypotheses about the neural mechanisms of resilience. Resilience expresses functional redundancies in brain networks and suggests a process of dynamic rerouting of brain signals. This process is underlined by a global renormalization of effective connectivity, capable of restoring information transfer between spared brain structures via alternate pathways. Local mechanisms of synaptic plasticity mediate the renormalization at the lowest level of implementation, but it is also driven by top-down cognition, with a key role of self-awareness in fostering resilience. The presence of abstraction layers in brain computation and networking is hypothesized to account for the renormalization process. Future research directions and challenges are discussed regarding the understanding and control of resilience based on multimodal neuroimaging and computational neuroscience. The study of resilience will illuminate ways by which the brain can overcome adversity and help inform prevention and treatment strategies. It is relevant to combating the negative neuropsychological impact of aging and fostering cognitive enhancement.