Scientists once believed that the brain stopped developing after the first few years of life. They thought that connections formed between the brain’s nerve cells during an early “critical period” and then were permanent as we age. Scientists also thought that if a particular area of the adult brain was damaged, the nerve cells could not form new connections, and the functions controlled by that area of the brain would be lost.
Fortunately, new research on animals and humans has completely evolved with data now showing that the adult brain not only is dynamic, but is constantly adapting and reorganizing based on one’s environment and behavioral experiences. The latest advances in neurorehabilitation research have resulted in positive discoveries that can benefit millions living with neurological deficits. Clinical studies now show how the stroke-damaged brain can respond to treatment, even after the crucial early months when most recovery typically occurs.
Neuroplasticity, also known as cortical plasticity, refers to the brain’s remarkable ability to reorganize or rewire itself by forging new neural connections based on individual experiences, lifestyle and environment.