Clinical disorders of brain plasticity

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

183 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-80
Number of pages8
JournalBrain and Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2004


  • Glutamate
  • Learning and memory
  • Plasticity
  • Rett syndrome
  • Signaling
  • Transcription

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Clinical disorders of brain plasticity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this