News FocusMysteries of the Brain

Can We Make Our Brains More Plastic?

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Science  05 Oct 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6103, pp. 36-39
DOI: 10.1126/science.338.6103.36

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Our brains become less flexible as they mature for good reasons: A developing brain gives up some of its plasticity in favor of efficiency and stability. Too much plasticity may also play a role in some neurological disorders, including epilepsy and schizophrenia. In certain situations, however, more plasticity could be helpful, making it easier for patients to recover after a stroke or spinal cord injury, for example, or to pick up the intricacies of Russian grammar. So, will we one day be able to turn on—and control—our brain plasticity at will? Neuroscientists have begun to understand a few of the factors that govern the flexibility of certain parts of the maturing brain. (Read about more "Mysteries of the Brain.")