In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan.


Neuroplasticity, also known as neural plasticity or brain plasticity, is a process that involves adaptive structural and functional changes to the brain. A good definition is “the ability of the nervous system to change its activity in response to intrinsic or extrinsic stimuli by reorganizing its structure, functions, or connections.” Clinically, it is the process of brain changes after injury, such as a stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI). These changes can either be beneficial (restoration of function after injury), neutral (no change), or negative (can have pathological consequences).

Neuroplasticity can be broken down into two major mechanisms:

  1. Neuronal regeneration/collateral sprouting: This includes concepts such as synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis.

  2. Functional reorganization: This includes concepts such as equipotentiality, vicariation, and diaschisis

The first mention of the term plasticity in regards to the nervous system was by William James in 1890. However, the term neural plasticity is credited to Jerzy Konorski in 1948 and was popularized by Donald Hebb in 1949.

Publication types

  • Study Guide