Neural plasticity of development and learning

Authors

  • Adriana Galván

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, Brain Research Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, California
    • Department of Psychology, Brain Research Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, 1285 Franz Hall, Box 951563, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563, USA
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Abstract

Development and learning are powerful agents of change across the lifespan that induce robust structural and functional plasticity in neural systems. An unresolved question in developmental cognitive neuroscience is whether development and learning share the same neural mechanisms associated with experience-related neural plasticity. In this article, I outline the conceptual and practical challenges of this question, review insights gleaned from adult studies, and describe recent strides toward examining this topic across development using neuroimaging methods. I suggest that development and learning are not two completely separate constructs and instead, that they exist on a continuum. While progressive and regressive changes are central to both, the behavioral consequences associated with these changes are closely tied to the existing neural architecture of maturity of the system. Eventually, a deeper, more mechanistic understanding of neural plasticity will shed light on behavioral changes across development and, more broadly, about the underlying neural basis of cognition. Hum Brain Mapp, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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