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Encyclopedia of Gerontology and Population Aging


Brain development; Brain plasticity; Nerve regeneration; Neurogenesis; Plasticity; Synaptic plasticity; Synaptogenesis


Neuroplasticity, commonly referred to as plasticity, is the ability of the nervous system to change or modify in response to external signals (Maddox 2001). Plastic changes include alterations to neuronal networks, changes in neuronal and synaptic connectivity, generation of new neurons, and other neurobiochemical changes which occur in response to our experiences (Gutchess 2014). The ability of the nervous system to make plastic changes underlies the brain’s ability to learn and adapt across the lifespan.


In the early 1900s, Santiago Ramón Y Cajal demonstrated the regenerative capacities of the nervous system and used the term “plasticity” to describe the regeneration of cells (Ramón et al. 2012; Stahnisch and Nitsch 2002). Research in psychology and neuroscience over the next century further elucidated the plastic properties of the...

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Correspondence to Emanuel M. Boutzoukas .

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Boutzoukas, E.M., Woods, A.J. (2021). Neuroplasticity. In: Gu, D., Dupre, M.E. (eds) Encyclopedia of Gerontology and Population Aging. Springer, Cham.

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