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  • Class hierarchy in Ethiopia



    Even though such a system has, for the good part, been done away with, Tibebeselassie Tigabu writes in this issue of The Reporter that traces of it could still be detected.

    The popular culture of urban life made traditional drinks such as tej (honey mead) to be exclusively limited to holidays, weddings, or some other special events.

    This sentiment might not be shared by the daily drinkers of tej in neighborhoods such as Shiro Meda and 5 Kilo. If one happens to drop by these tej houses (mead joints), one understands this is a communion space for men, both working and unemployed.

    Their loud voices, slurred speeches, the clacking birle (decanter) and the obscurity of the space defy the concept of the origin of tej that historically symbolized social status.

    It is only the phrase, “Tej ye chewa metet new,” (Tej is a drink reserved only for the noble,) is kept in the mind of many without any contest. But what does this phrase mean?

    Various writings actually attest to the veracity of the saying. In his book, “A Social History of Ethiopia”, Richard Pankhurst writes, “None except the nobility and the highest chiefs and warriors were privileged to drink tej,”

    Ordinary people, including women, farmers, even merchants and other segments of the society, were not allowed to drink tej.

    A former EPRP (Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party) member now a businessperson Woldesenbet Belete tells the exclusivity of tej. According to Woldesenbet, in the land tenure system, there are those who had rist – land ownership right that is inherited, inalienable, and inviolable.

    The other major form of tenure was gult, an ownership right granted by the monarch or from provincial rulers who were empowered to make land grants. These gult (right to collect tribute) owners exacted labor services or demanded payment in kind from peasants. Such tributes in kind came in the form of fattened sheep, goats and the like, as well as grains and honey, the latter dubbed by Woldesenbet as gundo mar.

    In one compelling story told by Woldesenbet, one peasant decided to consume the honey he produced and made tej with it. This news of a farmer daring to consume “honey” caused such a stir that it got reported to the provincial governor. The issue did not stop there and then; and it went all the way to the highest authority of the land – Emperor Yohannes IV.

    After listening to the issue, Emperor Yohannes IV asked whom the honey belonged to. The governor replied that it belonged to the farmer. The then emperor ruled out the exclusivity of tej, and from that time on tej became a drink to any commoner who wants to consume it. This democratizing edict, however, did not bring to an end the hierarchical class system or oppression thereof.

    According to Woldesenbet, the feudal aristocracy was given huge tracts of land and complete freedom to exploit the peasantry, particularly through the enormous private land-holding system in the southern parts of the country. In some areas, the landlords took as much as three-quarters of their tenants' harvest in cash or kind, through a complex system of taxes and tribute. In addition to that, tenants were also saddled with obligations to provide free labor for the property owner’s benefit.

    During that time, the society was highly stratified. John Markakis, a prominent political scientist who was in the country during part of Emperor Haileselassie’s reign reminisces: “The society was highly ranked and too hierarchical. Everyone knew how to behave with other people if one was, for example, a balabat or tilk sew (members of the nobility). There was an understanding on how to even wear the shemma (traditional shawl) when they talk to them. It was like going to the Middle Age, but it was working as a state.”

    Woldesenbet said that one had to yield way when a balabat passes, bow to them, or wash their feet and be at their disposal. The feudal lords wielded both economic and political power, justified solely through their lineage of “blue blood”. “They did not consider the peasant, who belonged to a lower class, as a human being. Peasants were considered and treated as an inferior. Even their body did not belong to the peasants. It existed to maximize the property of the landlords,” Woldesenbet said.

    According to Woldesenbet, there was an irreconcilable difference among classes, and further mentioned the existence of slavery in the northern parts of Ethiopia. “The slaves were treated more brutally than the peasants. There are even stories of slaves being buried alive with their deceased masters,” noted Woldesenbet.

    Woldesenbet believes that revolution is a never-ending process in which the remnants of feudalism did not vanish with the dismantling of the system; but rather continues until now. The contradiction between the technocrats within the feudal ruling class and the students brought a “class struggle” in an articulated form. The student movement and later the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party used Marx’s definition of class.

    Marx sought to define a class as embedded in productive relations rather than social status. Marx distinguishes one class from another based on two criteria, viz., ownership of the means of production and control of the labor of others.

    He defines modern society as having three distinct classes. The first is the capitalist or bourgeoisie, who own the means of production and purchase the labor of others. The second class is workers or proletariat who do not own any means of production or the ability to purchase the labor of others. The revolution of 1974 in Ethiopia did not stop in articulating class relationships; it rather tried to dismantle the various class hierarchies.

    When the Derg took power in 1974, with its Marxist-Leninist ideology backed by the student movement, its priority was to eradicate this “feudal” class of “landlords” by one of the most radical agricultural reforms ever undertaken: “land to the tiller.” Land thus became public property. Nevertheless, the state maintained a sort of crown right over its administration, beginning with granting use rights to peasants over a parcel of land roughly proportional to the size of their family.


    When the incumbent regime came to power in 1991, it did not touch the 1974 agrarian reform. The thread running through history remained unbroken- land rights continued rather it became an instrument to define relations of power between the state and smallholders and their communities.

    However, many criticize the two regimes’ "land policy" which reduced peasants into tenants or another form of "feudalism." Especially with this regime, the leasing of vast land to foreign investors is highly criticized as a form of "feudalism". This might show the relationship between the ruling class and the peasants in a bigger picture. After all these class struggles, some of the things seem to be unchanged. Still, most of the songs, films and literature highlight the rudimentary definition of the class relationship of poor versus rich. Traces of feudalism can still be detected in the daily lives of urban dwellers where some, like domestic servants, are treated not with kid gloves.

    One of those places is among house cleaners, guards, construction workers and other segments of society that are engaged in manual labor.

    Alem Gebre, 14, a babysitter from the Sheno area, joined a certain household two years ago to serve as a babysitter. In addition to babysitting, she also runs errands, washes dishes and helps in washing clothes of the family.

    Tsige Moges, her employer, is a very religious woman, but does not show her piety when it comes to Alem. Alem is not allowed to sit on the couch or use utensils of the family; rather some utensils are especially reserved for her. “She is a maid and she has to know her place,” Tsige declared.

    Alem actually knows her place in society; does not speak in a raised voice, or play with neighborhood children. It is not only Alem but many maids are also treated badly, punished physically and are not given daily breaks.

    The Reporter approached Tsige to ask if it was ok for maids to have intimate relationship with other people or a hypothetical scenario with her son. Her response was preceded by a loud laughter: "I do not think it is ok in my house. I do not care if they do it in other places," Tsige said, and went on: "I want my son to get married to a daughter of honorable parents."

    According to Marx,  property relations determine class and not income, or status and this seems to work in the current class structure. There are people who escaped poverty and made it to a higher income bracket. Nevertheless, within the current class relationship, people still expect their background to be a passport for membership in the "honorable group”.

    The dismantling of the class system might not sound important; but people still use it to create artificial hierarchies among each other, for marriage, for honor, among other things. Many still bow to people who are considered “honorable”. Various institutions work in their favor; for instance, media outlets seem to be concerned about their lifestyle, business, and what not. Within the current social class system, being affluent is a determinant of joining the higher class and one can become a shaper of the economic and political situation of the country.

    With the dismantling of the feudal system, during this regime, there is a creation of a new class of the rich, which Yeraswork Admassie, a sociologist at Addis Ababa University, called nouveau riche (newly rich). This group of people replaced familial inheritance.

    Thanks to  Tibebeselassie…  and Read Detail at Reporter.

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  • Aida Muluneh expressing history through body painting

    “We exist between the anxiety of the unknown future and the nostalgia of the familiar past,” Aida said. “We bear the burden of our duality.”

    She is among the artists in “Afriques Capitales,” which is on view from March 29 to May 28 in Paris, before it travels to Lille, near the French border with Belgium. The show — a subset of the “100 percent Afriques” festival — is a sampler of the continent’s contemporary artists, from Akinbode Akinbiyi to Hassan Hajjaj to William Kentridge. The works are exhibited within the iron-and-glass cultural center in the Parc de la Villette — once the site of a slaughterhouse — and outside, in the park itself.

    Aida was born in in Ethiopia in 1974, but her mother soon took them out of the country after the ouster of Emperor Haile Selassie. They moved often in search of a better place to live to provide a good education for Aida. At 18 years of age, Aida moved to the US to study film at Howard University and, later, worked at The Washington Post. She moved to Addis Ababa a decade ago – fulfilling a wish of her mother’s – and led the biennial Addis Foto Fest in 2010. She is currently the managing director at Developing and Educating Society Through Art for Africa, which fosters cultural partnerships.

    “It took me a long time to understand that culture is soft power,” she said. “Looking at activities in my city, the same issues that we deal with here echo across the continent, and at times across the world.”

    Her past has influenced her current artistic process. “Most of my studio work is based on the daily experiences that I have documented through my journalistic work,” she said.

    The prevalence of decorative body painting in her images — stark whites, vibrant reds, azure blues, monochromes sometimes delicately dotted with black — are rooted in Ethiopian tradition and custom. Against a backdrop of globalization, this waning tradition is revived and celebrated as a form of a contemporary self-expression. Her models, which include local fashion designers and make-up artists, provide a canvas for what she wants to express, but remain open-minded participants in the process. “I am often drawn to not just the beauty but also the imperfections of this life,” she said.

    Her choice of materials also has an important role in her work. Some of her photos are printed on archival rag paper. Within the frame, she features folds of beautiful fabric or woven baskets — like in her image “City Life” — integrating local craftsmanship into her visual palette. “In a sense, I have added certain codes,” she said, in order to “provoke the familiarity within a contemporary context for an Ethiopian audience, while for the foreign audience, it evokes curiosity.”

    Thanks to Contributor and Read Detail at Reporter.


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  • Chapter 2 for the all-female band



    Founded in 2013 to tackle issues including domestic violence and forced marriage through songs and online videos Yegna primary aim was to have an impact on the culture of the country by highlighting important social issues in the Ethiopian society. Its members Rahel Getu, Zebiba Girma, Eyerusalem Kelemework, Lemlem Haile Michael, and Teref Kassahun adopted stage names: Lemlem, Emuye, Sara, Mimi and Melat. The initial reception was, to a larger extent good; however, things started to get a bit shaky for the band, dubbed "Ethiopia's Spice Girls".

    It was the victim of a long-running campaign by The Daily Mail, which claimed grants to the group were a waste of money eventually leading the British government to withdraw its support. Now, things are looking up once again for the band having received new funding writes Samuel Getachew. 

    When Prime Minister Theresa May appointed Priti Patel, the right-wing parliamentarian as the face of British aid in 2016 following a poor electoral result that reduced the Tory party to that of minority status and was forced to appease the influential blue voice within caucus, Patel wanted to change the narrative of British aid as one that held “core Tory values”.

    Thanks and Detail @ Reporter ( Just in-case Click Again the SKIP at Top ! )



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  • Ethiopia Very Likely To Be A Top 5 Gold Producer ......

    Liam Bullock was previously an employee of GP Resource Mining Ltd.

    He recently wrote an article describing his research and experience with Ethiopian gold mining. Judging by his widely circulated work he seems fascinated by Ethiopian 6000-year-old history as a ‘key source of gold’. In addition, he presents scientific findings which make an optimistic case for Ethiopia’s under-explored mining resources. He focuses mainly on the Asosa region of Bienshangul Gumuz. Significantly, he was posted in this region during a one year stay in Ethiopia (2015-2016).

    Liam does not think it is unlikely that Ethiopia soon becomes a top performer in the world’s lucrative gold trade.  According to the abstract of his recently published research “historical workings and anomalous gold concentrations in rock, soil and stream sediments point to a potentially significant untapped gold resource in the Asosa region of western Ethiopia.”

    Now a research fellow at the University of Aberdeen, Liam Bullock published his findings this month inGeology Today. Gold panning in the Tumet River of Asosa in Western Ethiopia has been a common practice for ages. Recently, numerous mining interests have been seeking concessions in the area. Other regions also show great promise. In 2016 the National Bank of Ethiopia announced that it received close to 5 billion (ETB) during a five year period from the Tigray region alone.             

    Related: NBE Receives 4.9 Billion Br Worth in Gold from Tigray

    Gold Exports Make Up 13% of Ethiopia’s 2017 Export Earnings (CIA Factbook)

    Last month a Canadian miner asked Ministry of Mines and Petroleum & Natural gas for two concessions in Dam Taburk and Meta Bula. Midroc Gold Mine Plc, a major mining company in Ethiopia also expanded its activities in 2017 and has interested in Lege Dembi and other regions.  A news reportindicates that last year there were only four companies that were active in mining in the country. Interestingly, 80 companies were in the initial stages of exploration as of early last year. This is indicative that many of them share the optimism of this recent study. Ethiopia exported close to six tons in the 2016/2017 fiscal year with the lion’s share being handled by Midroc Gold. Read Liam Bullock’s Article in The Conversation (UK) See Also: Ethiopia  Mines Set to Generate Millions (Diretube).

    Main Source: DireTube.

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  • Ethiopia leading space endeavor in the Horn


     Ethiopia has built an astronomical observatory, taking the first step towards creating a fully-fledged national space agency. With this, Ethiopia joins a handful of other African nations, including Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt, that have their own space programs, and the government hopes the move will boost the local agriculture and communication industries, writes Wagaye Berhanu.

    Ethiopia’s fledgling space science program has been beset by perception problems among some members of the public. “We are not into deep-space science, probing for signs of life on Mars, or for the presence of precious minerals on asteroids, etc.,” Alemiye Mamo, the acting director of the Public and International Relations Directorate with the Entoto Observatory and Research Center (EORC), said. In an exclusive interview he gave to The Reporter the previous Wednesday, Alemiye noted that creating awareness of the community in the field of space science and technology is one of the strategic goals of EORC.

    Speaking to perception problems on space science and technology development in Ethiopia, the acting director said some people would go so far as suggesting that the country’s meager resources be better directed towards such crucial programs as food security. There are still others keen on comparing funds earmarked for the space program with those for other sectors of the economy, he noted, and added that science is a sine qua non for economic development of a country, and space science is an integral part of that. In fact, one of the rationales for the launching of Ethiopia’s space program, according to a March 2016 publication by EORC is “…to maximize the application of space-driven technologies for sustainable development to alleviate poverty and ignorance. Space science and technology-driven products can be used for modernization of agriculture, enhance food security and early warning, disaster management, …”

    Alemiye said that even though it had been written off as being overly ambitious at its inception, Ethiopia’s nascent space program had registered quite a few achievements. Among these were the hosting of regional and international exhibitions and workshops in the past and, along that line, he mentioned two upcoming space science-related events to be held in Ethiopia.

    According to information posted on EORC’S website, the first one is the 39th International School for Young Astronomers (ISYA) 2017 slated to take place in Addis Ababa between May 8 and 19, 2017. Jointly organized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (NASL) and local partners, close to 40 college students are expected to attend the two-week-long series of lectures on astronomy and astrophysics.

    The other is the Fourth Middle East and Africa Regional IAU Meeting (MEARIM IV) that will be held from May 22 to 25, 2017 with the theme, “Exploring Our Universe for the Benefit of Humankind”. MEARIM is convened triennially, and the purpose of the Addis Ababa meeting would be to bring stakeholders together, “and openly discuss their experiences, existing and future challenges, and opportunities of astronomy in driving socio-economic development of the region, inspiring young professionals… promote R&D in astronomy to benefit humankind,” according to a booklet prepared for the occasion. Some 400 participants are going to attend the conference organized by the East Africa Regional Office of Astronomy for Development (ROAD), and local partners, viz., EORC and the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI).

    It has indeed come a long way. According to acting director Alemiye, it all started as a pastime by a group of amateur space enthusiasts who used to get together at Jan Meda (a large meadow in the vicinity of 6 Kilo) to do telescope-aided observation of the nocturnal sky. In 2004, they agreed to set up the Ethiopian Space Science Society (ESSS), the pioneering body in the field of space science in Ethiopia, with members drawn from government agencies as well as academic and business interests.

    In January 2013, EORC was officially established as an independent research and training center owned and run by ESST as well as 33 universities, one of them a private one. Fully financed by Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi, twin one-meter diameter state-of-the-art telescopes were installed in December 2014 at Entoto, the site of its observatory atop the escarpment on the northern outskirts of Addis Ababa. Works are also under way to install a second telescope facility at Lalibela, Alemiye said.

    With the launching of the Entoto Observatory (the first one of its kind in east Africa), Ethiopia has joined the family of African nations actively engaged in aerospace science. An article which appeared on the CNN website on December 12, 2013, under the heading, “Africa’s super telescopes ‘will inspire science boom’,” has the following to say about Africa’s space endeavor:

    “While South Africa boasts the best resources on the continent, …observatories of all shapes and sizes are scattered all over Africa…in Burkina Faso, Namibia, Nigeria,

    Egypt to name a few. Other countries are focusing on training the next generation of astronomers, with the University of Nairobi in Kenya, for example, offering an undergraduate course in astrophysics….”

    Himself a PhD candidate in astronomy and astrophysics with the hope of pursuing a career in observational astronomy, Alemiye noted that lack of local expertise in the field was one of the challenges at the outset, and developing the necessary capacity as well as conducting research in the field of space science is among the core missions of EORC. Along this line, Alemiye pointed out that following development and validation of curricula, EORC had started offering post-graduate degrees in various space science-related fields of study to Ethiopian students (representing well over 90 percent of the student body) as well as those drawn from the east Africa region.

    Accordingly, there are 43 PhD candidates pursuing studies in astronomy and astrophysics; space science; remote sensing; and geodesy, the acting director said, and added that two students in astronomy and astrophysics as well as four students in remote sensing fields of study had already graduated from EORC’s MSc program. He also noted that as the only institution in the region with a one-meter diameter telescope, EORC serves as a center of excellence in astronomy and astrophysics, and also in space science research in east Africa.

    Underscoring the fact that building regional, continental and international partnerships is one of EORC’s missions, Alemiye said that scientists engaged in astronomy and astrophysics, and drawn from Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda had set up the East African Astronomical Research Network. Exchange of students is going on in that spirit of partnership, and one student each from Uganda and Rwanda are pursuing PhD studies at EORC while an Ethiopian recently completed her studies in Uganda. On the other hand, while every effort is made to recruit its faculty locally, EORC is still heavily dependent on an expatriate teaching staff, with professors coming from institutions in Asia, Europe and the U.S., the acting director noted.

    Alemiye said that many institutions are (interested in) collaborating with EORC, and scientific bodies in South Korea, the U.S. (EORC/NASA exchange of visits are worth noting here), France, Russia and China were just some of the entities that ties have already been forged with.

    As promoting space science is one of its core missions, EORC has been offering educational outreach and community services. In this regard, acting director Alemiye said over 9,000 visitors had already attended site tours at the Entoto Observatory. One of the desired outcomes of the tours is to inspire young children and students, and help them develop a passion for science in general, and space science in particular. Alemiye further noted that tours are currently organized during weekdays, with plans for expanding the program to weekends as well as during nighttime. (Information on tours is available on EORC’s website:

    By way of listing more of the achievements registered so far by EORC, Alemiye cited 59 students currently pursuing post-graduate studies in various disciplines related to space science as well as 30 research papers published in noted academic journals. There is also a satellite program, with plans to launch one as a medium-term goal. Under the heading “Ongoing Projects,” the March 2016 publication specifically mentions the satellite project: “…to develop a launch-ready satellite with remote sensing capability. The plan is to develop satellite infrastructure in Ethiopia by Ethiopians through learning-by-doing approach to address the most pressing socio-economic and environmental issues….”

    Thanks to contributor and Read Detail at Reporter.


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  • Biography of Afan Oromo Singer Ali Birra’s to be Released Soon

    Biography of Ali Birra has been written in English by Dr. Surafel Gelgilo and would be printed soon. The book has also benn translated into Amharic and Afan Oromo.

    Click the Link to watch the video !

    Dr. Surafel, a lecturer at Addis Ababa University, stated that he has been preparing the biography for the past three years. Singer Ali Birra, which has been awarded an honorary Doctorate a couple of years ago is a sensation of Afan Oromo music lovers. He has been singing for over 40 years.

    In a press conference held to announce the release of his biography, it has been noted that Ali Birra’s biography has been published two times other authors but both lack the detail and proper description of the singer.
    The tri-lingual biography of Ali Birra would be published in thousands to be distributed in the country and abroad, it was disclosed. Fund raising program would also be held to cover the cost of the publication.

    Ali Birra was born 1950 in Lagahare Village in the city of Dire Dawa. In addition to his magnificent voice, he is very popular as a composer, poet and nationalist.

    Ali Birra’s pick time was the 1960th when he was singing in Amharic, Harari, Arabic and Somali in addition to Afan Oromo.

    Ali Birra meaning Ali the spring was named after his first song on stage, which was called “ Birra dha Barie “
    Ali produced his first album in 1971, the first in the history of Oromo Music. He continued to release popular albums such as “Hin Yaadin”, “Asabalee “, “Amalellee” etc.


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  • Stroke: Can the brain ‘rewire’ itself to aid recovery?

    Temporary sensory deprivation may improve recovery following a stroke by making space for the brain to rewire itself, suggests new research by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO. Sensory deprivation could help with stroke recovery.

    A report published in Science Translational Medicine explains how the scientists came to this conclusion after observing stroke recovery in mice that had had their whiskers clipped.

    The team revealed that mice were more likely to recover use of a front paw after a stroke if they had their whiskers trimmed.

    A rodent’s whiskers are an important sensory organ with a rich nerve supply.

    The animal can move its whiskers forwards and backwards to explore stationary objects and can keep them still to explore moving objects, all the while sending sensory information to the brain.

    The researchers suggest that clipping a mouse’s whiskers stops the brain from receiving sensory signals, leaving the affected area more “plastic” and able to rewire itself to perform other tasks.

    Implications for stroke rehabilitation

    A stroke occurs when either a clot or rupture in a blood vessel in the brain blocks the blood supply and stops the affected area from receiving the oxygen and nutrients that it needs to keep cells alive and working.

    Most strokes are caused by clots, and these are known as ischemic strokes. A temporary clot that clears itself is known as a transient ischemic attack, which is also referred to as a mini-stroke.

    When the affected area of the brain stops receiving the blood that it needs, brain cells die and the corresponding part of the body stops working properly or fails to work at all.

    Often, the approach to rehabilitation therapy that individuals receive following a stroke focuses on helping them to compensate for the disability. The researchers propose that their study points to an alternative approach.

    “Our findings,” says senior study author Jin-Moo Lee, a professor of neurology, “suggest that we may be able to stimulate [stroke] recovery by temporarily vacating some brain real estate and making that region of the brain more plastic.”

    “One way to do that might be by immobilizing a healthy limb,” he adds.

    Every year, around 140,000 people die from stroke in the United States, where it accounts for 1 out of every 20 deaths. The estimated cost of stroke — including medical care, drugs, and missed work days — is around $34 billion per year.

    Brain remaps functions to nearby areas

    There are more than 6.5 million stroke survivors in the U.S. Thanks to the brain’s plasticity, or ability to adapt, many survivors naturally recover some amount of function. An example is a survivor who cannot move an arm at first but finds that a few days later, they can start to wiggle their fingers.

    Research using brain imaging shows that in such cases, the brain has rewired control of the fingers to a “neighbouring undamaged area.”

    The extent of recovery is closely linked to how well the brain remaps sensory and control functions from the damaged to the undamaged area.

    However, the cost of this plasticity is that the brain is constantly trying to free up “real estate” on which to build the new circuits. One way that unused real estate becomes available is when signaling to and from an area stops — for example, when a limb is amputated.

    Prof. Lee and his colleagues wondered whether sensory deprivation might be a way to free up real estate near a stroke-injured area, and if the brain would use this opportunity to remap the disabled functions to that area.

    Mice with trimmed whiskers healed quicker

    To test this idea, they induced stroke in two groups of mice such that it impaired their ability to control their right forepaw.

    Following the stroke, they trimmed off the whiskers of one group of mice and left them intact in the other group. Then, they observed the animals’ recovery and their use of the forepaws.

    By week 4 after the stroke, the mice with trimmed whiskers had started to use the right forepaw again, and by week 8, they were using them as well as the left forepaw.

    However, the mice with intact whiskers recovered much more slowly; by week 4, they were still not using their right forepaw and had only partly recovered use of it by week 8.

    Scans of the mice’s brains showed marked differences in both the stroke-affected and neighboring areas. In the brains of the mice with the trimmed whiskers, the activity associated with forepaw use had moved to the area that is normally associated with use of whiskers.

    However, in the mice with intact whiskers, the forepaw activity moved to any of several areas next to the injured site.

    The following short video from the Washington University School of Medicine sums up the results in the mice:

    Whisker-use activity returned to former area

    The team allowed the mice with trimmed whiskers to grow them back after they had recovered full use of their right forepaw.

    Scans of the animals’ brains taken 4 weeks later showed that whisker-use activity had returned to its former place in the brain. Also, forepaw control stayed in its new place with the mice continuing to show full use of both paws.

    The study did not investigate whether the mice that had had their whiskers trimmed lost some ability to use their whiskers.

    But the researchers say that there is evidence that when a brain function moves into another part of the brain, it does not impede the function associated with that area.

    Prof. Lee gives the examples of musicians and taxi drivers: in musicians, the part of the brain that controls finger movement is unusually large, as is the part that controls navigation in taxi drivers.

    “Developing those skills doesn’t cause musicians and taxi drivers to lose any other abilities. They are probably just using their brains more efficiently,” he explains.

    He says that their findings show that it may be possible to improve outcomes following stroke by “enhancing plasticity in targeted regions of the brain.”


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