Purpose of review: Neural plasticity represents a crucial mechanism of the human brain to adapt to environmental changes in the developing and adult human central nervous system. This property of the central nervous system contributes to learning and functional recovery from neurological diseases such as stroke. Novel interventional approaches have been proposed and are under investigation to modulate neural plasticity, enhance it when it plays an adaptive role and downregulate it when it is considered maladaptive.
Recent findings: One of the purposes of research in neurorehabilitation has been to develop interventional approaches to enhance the beneficial effects of training. Procedures like cortical stimulation, administration of central nervous system active drugs and modulation of afferent input have been evaluated as drivers of neural plasticity in healthy subjects and in small groups of patients with stroke. So far, these studies have shown promising results and translation into the clinic is under investigation.
Summary: Cortical stimulation and purposeful changes in afferent input that modulate neural plasticity impact on behavioral markers of performance, learning and functional recovery and represent promising tools in neurorehabilitation.