Principles of plasticity in the developing brain

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2017 Dec;59(12):1218-1223. doi: 10.1111/dmcn.13546. Epub 2017 Sep 13.


The developing brain is especially sensitive to a wide range of experiences, showing a remarkable capacity for plastic changes that influence behavioural outcomes throughout the lifetime. We review the principles that regulate this plasticity in development and consider the factors that modulate the developing brain. These include early sensory, motor, and language experience, early stress, caregiver interactions, peer interactions, psychoactive drugs, diet, microbiome, and the immune system. Emphasis is given to changes in behaviour, epigenetics, and neuronal morphology.

What this paper adds: A discussion of the surprising range of factors influencing brain development Life experiences interact resulting in a phenomenon called metaplasticity.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Child
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*