Harnessing neuroplasticity: modern approaches and clinical future

Int J Neurosci. 2018 Nov;128(11):1061-1077. doi: 10.1080/00207454.2018.1466781. Epub 2018 May 4.


Background and purpose: Neurological diseases and injuries to the nervous system may cause inadvertent damage to neuronal and synaptic structures. Such phenomenon would lead to the development of neurological and neurodegenerative disorders which might affect memory, cognition and motoric functions. The body has various negative feedback systems which can induce beneficial neuroplastic changes in mediating some neuronal damage; however, such efforts are often not enough to ameliorate the derogatory changes. Materials and methods: Articles discussing studies to induce beneficial neuroplastic changes were retrieved from the databases, National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and MEDLINE, and reviewed. Results: This review highlights the significance of neuroplasticity in restoring neuronal functions and current advances in research to employ this positive cellular event by inducing synaptogenesis, neurogenesis, clearance of toxic amyloid beta (Aβ) and tau protein aggregates, or by providing neuroprotection. Compounds ranging from natural products (e.g. bilobalides, curcumin) to novel vaccines (e.g. AADvac1, RG7345) have been reported to induce long-lasting neuroplasticity in vitro and in vitro. Activity-dependent neuroplasticity is also inducible by regimens of exercises and therapies with instances in human studies proving major successes. Lastly, mechanical stimulation of brain regions through therapeutic hypothermia or deep brain stimulation has given insight on the larger scale of neuroplasticity within the nervous system. Conclusion: Harnessing neuroplasticity may not only offer an arm in the vast arsenal of approaches being taken to tackle neurological disorders, such as neurodegenerative diseases, but from ample evidence, it also has major implications in neuropsychological disorders.

Keywords: Neuroplasticity; neurogenesis; neurorestoration; physical exercise; synaptogenesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis
  • Nervous System Diseases / metabolism*
  • Nervous System Diseases / therapy*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use


  • Neuroprotective Agents