Plasticity and reorganization of the uninjured brain

Top Stroke Rehabil. 2005 Summer;12(3):1-10. doi: 10.1310/A422-G91U-Q4HB-86XC.


Brain capacity is dependent not so much on the number of neurons but on the number of synaptic connections with functional connections that develop over a lifetime of genetic programming and life experiences. In the uninjured human brain, cortical reorganization that occurs in response to learning and experience is referred to as brain plasticity. Motor learning and complex environments result in a greater number of synapses and an increase in dendritic branching, whereas repetitive movements alone, in the absence of motor learning, do not. Learning and experience lead to an expansion of cortical representation, while failure to maintain training results in a contraction of cortical representation. In animals, loss of sensory peripheral afferent input results in an expansion of the forelimb representation of the intact adjacent cortex. Prolonged periods of peripheral nerve stimulation in both animals and humans can lead to reorganization of related sensorimotor cortical maps.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Dendritic Cells / physiology*
  • Environment
  • Forelimb / innervation
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Motor Skills
  • Neuronal Plasticity*