The plastic human brain cortex


Merabet LB, Fregni F, Amedi A, Pascual-Leone A. The plastic human brain cortex. Annual review of neuroscience. 2005;28 :377-401. Copy at


Plasticity is an intrinsic property of the human brain and represents evolution's invention to enable the nervous system to escape the restrictions of its own genome and thus adapt to environmental pressures, physiologic changes, and experiences. Dynamic shifts in the strength of preexisting connections across distributed neural networks, changes in task-related cortico-cortical and cortico-subcortical coherence and modifications of the mapping between behavior and neural activity take place in response to changes in afferent input or efferent demand. Such rapid, ongoing changes may be followed by the establishment of new connections through dendritic growth and arborization. However, they harbor the danger that the evolving pattern of neural activation may in itself lead to abnormal behavior. Plasticity is the mechanism for development and learning, as much as a cause of pathology. The challenge we face is to learn enough about the mechanisms of plasticity to modulate them to achieve the best behavioral outcome for a given subject.


Pascual-Leone, AlvaroAmedi, AmirFregni, FelipeMerabet, Lotfi BK23 EY 016131-01/EY/NEI NIH HHS/K24 RR 018875/RR/NCRR NIH HHS/K30 HL 004095-03/HL/NHLBI NIH HHS/R01 DC 05672/DC/NIDCD NIH HHS/R01 EB 005047/EB/NIBIB NIH HHS/R01 EY 12091/EY/NEI NIH HHS/R01 NS 20068/NS/NINDS NIH HHS/R01 NS 47754/NS/NINDS NIH HHS/Annu Rev Neurosci. 2005;28:377-401.