Brain plasticity

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  • Plasticity
    • The brain's tendency to change and adapt as a result of experience and learning
      • Functional recovery- form of plasticity following damage through trauma, brain can redirect functions performed by damaged areas to non-damaged areas.
        • This is common in stroke victims as it allows the brain to compensate for the damaged areas
    • In infancy lots of synaptic connections are made (15'000 by age 2-3), which is twice of what we have in adulthood.
      • This is because of synaptic pruning where rarely used connections are deleted and frequently used ones are strengthened
        • This doesn't stop at any age as our brain continues to change and develop for our whole lives
    • Maguire et al.(2000) found in the brains of taxi drivers the hippo-campus was more developed.
      • They also had to do a knowledge test and it was found that this learning of routes altered the structure of their brain
    • During recovery there are a number of structural changes that occur to help aid the recovery process.
      • Axonal sprouting- growth of new nerve endings to connect with undamaged nerve cells to form new neural pathways
      • Reformation of blood vessels
      • Recruitment of homologous- similar areas on the opposite side of the brain can perform specific tasks while the damaged area takes time to recover.

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