The concept of brain plasticity--Paillard's systemic analysis and emphasis on structure and function (followed by the translation of a seminal paper by Paillard on plasticity)

Behav Brain Res. 2008 Sep 1;192(1):2-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2007.11.030. Epub 2008 Jan 25.


Although rejected for the most part of the 20th Century, the idea of brain plasticity began to receive wide acceptance from the 1970s. Yet there has been relatively little theoretical comment on the definition and use of "plasticity" in the field of neurobiology. An early exception to this lack of critical reflection on neural plasticity was provided by Jacques Paillard in a seminal paper that he published in 1976 [Paillard J. Réflexions sur l'usage du concept de plasticité en neurobiology. J Psychol 1976;1:33-47]. As this valuable contribution was published in French, the present authors provide an English adaptation to help convey his ideas to an international audience, together with a contemporary commentary on this paper. Paillard's definition of the term "plasticity" is probably as pertinent today as it was 30 years ago, especially in terms of its relevance to multiple levels of analysis of brain function (molecular, cellular, systemic). Sadly, Jacques Paillard died in 2006; our comments therefore also include a brief biographical tribute to this outstanding neuroscientist.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Brain / physiology*
  • France
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurosciences / history*
  • Periodicals as Topic / history

Personal name as subject

  • Jacques Paillard