Distance Learning Articles
Neuroplasticity: A Review for Clinicians
1 Continuing Education Credit(s) Available
Neuroplasticity can be defined as the ability of the nervous system to respond to intrinsic or extrinsic stimuli by reorganizing its structure, function and connections. The term neuroplasticity is derived from the Greek word “plastikos” meaning “to form”. Neuroplasticity is the natural tendency of the brain architecture to shift in positive (adaptive) or negative (maladaptive) directions making the brain both malleable and vulnerable towards positive and negative influences.
The idea of neuroplasticity was first proposed in 1892 by Santiago Ramón y Cajal who also proposed the neuron doctrine.1The first person to use the term neural plasticity appears to have been the Polish neuroscientist Jerzy Konorski.2 The belief that as we aged, the brain’s networks become fixed is now obsolete. Adult brains are malleable and even undergo limited neurogenesis, however the extent of the neuroplasticity is less than in children. This is most obvious in language acquisition, and recovery from brain trauma. In the past few decades, an enormous amount of research has revealed that the brain never stops changing and adjusting, suggesting all areas of the brain are plastic even after childhood.3
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