Neural Plasticity in Human Brain Connectivity: The Effects of Deep Brain Stimulation
van Hartevelt TJ., Fernandes HM., Stevner ABA., Deco G., Kringelbach ML.
© 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Neural plasticity in adult humans is no longer believed to be impossible. The adult brain shows neuronal regeneration and plasticity in a number of domains. We know that certain disorders or accidents can change the brain in a malicious way. However, in more recent years we have come to learn that formation of new neurons also occurs in adults and that, for example, learning tasks can affect the structure of the brain and reorganize the brain network. The best example of this happens on the microscale with task repetition leading to strengthened neural connections. This mechanism is often referred to as Hebbian learning although other mechanisms could also be at play. Recent studies have shown that these changes in the brain can occur on a macroscale following deep brain stimulation (DBS). Following constant DBS (analogous to repetition in learning), some connections between the brain areas are strengthened resulting in long-term structural changes in the brain on the macroscale.