The plastic human brain cortex

Annu Rev Neurosci. 2005;28:377-401. doi: 10.1146/annurev.neuro.27.070203.144216.

Abstract

Plasticity is an intrinsic property of the human brain and represents evolution's invention to enable the nervous system to escape the restrictions of its own genome and thus adapt to environmental pressures, physiologic changes, and experiences. Dynamic shifts in the strength of preexisting connections across distributed neural networks, changes in task-related cortico-cortical and cortico-subcortical coherence and modifications of the mapping between behavior and neural activity take place in response to changes in afferent input or efferent demand. Such rapid, ongoing changes may be followed by the establishment of new connections through dendritic growth and arborization. However, they harbor the danger that the evolving pattern of neural activation may in itself lead to abnormal behavior. Plasticity is the mechanism for development and learning, as much as a cause of pathology. The challenge we face is to learn enough about the mechanisms of plasticity to modulate them to achieve the best behavioral outcome for a given subject.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blindness / pathology
  • Blindness / physiopathology
  • Brain Injuries / pathology
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Time Factors