Brain Plasticity simply refers to the capacity of the Central Nervous System (CNS) to adapt or change after environmental stimulation. This is the same principle the brain uses in order to restore brain damaged areas and to heal from an injury or brain trauma.
Behavioral Plasticity and Recovery of Function
Adults can recover from loss of function due to injuries, traumas, or substance abuse if the individual undergoes a neurofunctional recovery and/or development training program. This training program takes into account the brain’s ability to recover based on the brain’s ‘plastic’ nature. The program also focuses on developing ‘lost ground’in cognitive functional abilities, centering on the ability to self-regulate and exercise self-control. Recovery for adults should be viewed as a return to previously developed function in combination with developing strengths in areas that may have been weak in the past.
For a child’s developing brain there exists critical periods in which the effects of brain trauma will often cause delays or impaired development. This can impact the child’s’ natural self-regulation abilities that can be exhibited or manifested as behavior issues, self-control issues or learning disabilities.
Recovery from these situations is possible if the child undergoes a neurodevelopment training program. Helping the child’s brain get back on it’s normal developmental timeline requires a neurodevelopment training program. The program takes into account the plastic nature of the brain’s ability to recover. The program also focuses on developing lost ground in cognitive functional abilities.
Studies of neural connections indicate that many damaged cells can produce new connections based upon a process called synaptic reorganization. This discovery forms the bases for brain plasticity (Brauth,et al 1991; Gazzaniga,et al, 1979).
Several forms of synaptic reorganization have been observed:
Sprouting – of new axons increases the number of terminals in the normal dendrite area
Spreading – is the development of terminals in the new target area and
Extension – refers to the termination of afferents on cells that are not the normal target areas
Denervation – supersensitivity states that after damage the remaining fibers may become overly sensitive to neurotransmitters and activate pathways that will result in the return of function.
These concepts require the brain and supporting nervous system to be externally stimulated in order for development or recovery to occur.