Neuroplasticity 101

Until recently, scientists believed that brain development came to a halt during adulthood. But experts now know that our brains change constantly throughout our lives, forming new pathways to adjust to changes in our environment, actions, thinking and emotions.

Understanding Brain Plasticity

The brain creates new neural pathways and modifies existing ones in response to behavioral, environmental, and neural changes. This process of neuroplasticity, also known as brain plasticity, continues throughout our lives, involves many processes and is influenced by new experiences.

Until recently, scientists believed that brain development came to a halt during adulthood. But experts now know that our brains change constantly throughout our lives, forming new pathways to adjust to changes in our environment, actions, thinking and emotions. For example, neuroplasticity allows the brain to compensate for injury and disease.

Understanding how brain plasticity works can help us attain our own cognitive goals as well as improve the ways experts treat and support people with neurological and behavioral health problems. Breakthroughs in understanding of brain plasticity have spurred new directions in neuroscience research, producing a wide range of practical applications including:

  • games, apps, and computer-assisted learning
  • magnetic and electrical medical devices
  • mindfulness practice
  • diet and exercise
  • new medication and therapies

At the BrainFutures Conference, Dr. Bruce Wexler, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Senior Research Scientist at Yale School of Medicine discussed the principles of neuroplasticity. Watch video below.