Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development

2011 Edition
| Editors: Sam Goldstein, Jack A. Naglieri

Synaptic Pruning

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-79061-9_2856


Synaptic pruning refers to the process by which extra neurons and synaptic connections are eliminated in order to increase the efficiency of neuronal transmissions.


Beginning in the earliest embryonic stage and lasting until approximately 2 years of age, new neurons and synapses are formed at an amazing rate, at times reaching 40,000 new synapses formed per second [2]. By the end of this process individuals are left with far more neurons and synapses than are functionally needed and/or preferred. Synaptic pruning is the process by which these extra synapses are eliminated thereby increasing the efficiency of the neural network. The entire process continues up until approximately 10 years of age by which time nearly 50% of the synapses present at 2 years of age have been eliminated [2]. The pattern and timeline pruning follows varies based on brain region. Again the process is intended to increase the efficiency of the neurological system. In this way, synaptic...

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    Gazzaniga, M., Ivry, R. B., & Mangum, G. R. (2009). Cognitive neuroscience: The biology of the mind (3rd ed.). New York: W.W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
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    Kolb, B., & Whishaw, I. Q. (2003). Fundamentals of human neuropsychology (5th ed.). New York: Worth Publishers.Google Scholar
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    Zillmer, E. A., & Spiers, M. V. (2001). Principles of neuropsychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMiddle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboroUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologySIU School of MedicineSpringfieldUSA