Last update: September 10, 2022
By BrainMatters

Plasticity in the context of brains simply means that change is possible. We used to assume that very little plasticity could take place in the brain. Now we know that this is not correct. When brain areas are damaged, either by a stroke or an accident, patients often suffer greatly at first. Certain behavioral functions or cognitive skills can be severely limited, because those brain areas were important for them. But over time, especially with guidance and practice, many patients can regain some functions. This is sometimes due to recovery of damaged areas, but sometimes also because other brain areas - which are still intact - can take over some functions. That's plasticity of the brain!

Often the term plasticity is also used more broadly. For example, when it comes to individual neurons, it can refer to changes in connections between neurons. In short, probably the best we can conclude is that 'plasticity' equals 'change' in the brain.

Author: Tom de Graaf (translated by Melanie Smekal)

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