Clinical disorders of brain plasticity.

Mark McIntosh,'s picture
PubMed URL:
Johnston MV
Author List: 
Brain Dev
PubMed ID: 
Clinical disorders of brain plasticity are common in the practice of child neurology. Children have an enhanced capacity for brain plasticity compared to adults as demonstrated by their superior ability to learn a second language or their capacity to recover from brain injuries or radical surgery such as hemispherectomy for epilepsy. Basic mechanisms that support plasticity during development include persistence of neurogenesis in some parts of the brain, elimination of neurons through apoptosis or programmed cell death, postnatal proliferation and pruning of synapses, and activity-dependent refinement of neuronal connections. Brain plasticity in children can be divided into four types: adaptive plasticity that enhances skill development or recovery from brain injury; impaired plasticity associated with cognitive impairment; excessive plasticity leading to maladaptive brain circuits; and plasticity that becomes the brain's 'Achilles' Heel' because makes it vulnerable to injury. A broad group of pediatric neurologic disorders can be understood in terms of their impact on fundamental mechanisms for brain plasticity. These include neurofibromatosis, tuberous sclerosis, Fragile X syndrome, other inherited forms of mental retardation, cretinism, Coffin-Lowry syndrome, lead poisoning, Rett syndrome, epilepsy, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and cerebral palsy.
Published Date: 
March, 2004

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