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Neural Plasticity Across the Lifespan

This article is from Wiley Online Library and is part of a “special collection on developmental systems designed to explore the powerful array of forces shaping the individual development of brains, bodies, and behavior. The collection was created and edited by Mark S. Blumberg (University of Iowa), John P. Spencer (University of East Anglia), and David Shenk (Author, The Genius in All of Us), in conjunction with the DeLTA Center at The University of Iowa. View the full collection: How We Develop – Developmental Systems and the Emergence of Complex Behaviors.”

We have surveyed several ways in which the brain is plastic, beginning with mechanisms that are operating this very second to encode your present experience, tracing back to critical periods that are important in the first months and years of postnatal life, and then mentioning mechanisms that operate very early in development. The history of neural plasticity research is one of surprises. Decades ago, large-scale reorganization of the adult brain was considered impossible. We now know differently. Similarly, it was also long thought that no new neurons were born in an adult brain. We now know that in at least some areas of the human brain, new neurons are born. Progress in the creation and manipulation of neural stem cells, in combination with advances in molecular biology, may mean that developmental plasticity once thought to be confined to early development may in the future have relevance for adulthood, senescence, and perhaps some disease states. 

Full article on “how current patterns of neural activity (e.g., as you read this essay) come to impact future patterns of activity (e.g., your memory of this essay).”

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Gif: Courtesy of Global Wellness Blog 

– Keri Kukral