The Plasticity of the Brain: Guiding the Damaged Brain to Recover From Injury and the Healthy Brain to Improve Itself

October 23, 2014 3:17 PM

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The Plasticity of the Brain: Guiding the Damaged Brain to Recover From Injury and the Healthy Brain to Improve Itself

Before 1980, it was widely accepted as fact in neuroscience that the central nervous system is hardwired and fixed. The very strong belief was that after an injury in adults, such as stroke or traumatic brain injury, the brain cannot repair itself. However, over the last 20 to 30 years persuasive evidence has been accumulating rapidly that the brain is plastic throughout a person's lifespan; in effect, the adult brain can not only be rewired, it can also be structurally remodeled.

Another strongly held belief prior to 1990 was that after damage to the brain, recovery of impaired functions -- such as the ability to use the arms and the legs or to speak -- could occur for about one year afterwards, but beyond that further improvement was not possible. Things could get worse, bu...

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