Functional Plasticity

Course video 35 of 60

This module discusses "Neurons as plastic/changing devices". Probably the most unique aspect of the nervous tissue is its amazing capability to constantly and adaptively change in response to a challenging environment; this capability enables us to learn and to store memories. We start by a short discussion about the notion of learning in the brain and then highlight various mechanisms that support learning and memory – introducing the term ‘neuronal plasticity”. In particular “functional plasticity”, whereby the efficacy of existing synapses is changed as well as “structural plasticity”, whereby learning/memory processes are associated with anatomical changes - the formation of new synaptic connections and with neurogenesis – the birth of new nerve cells (yes, also in the adult brain). A mathematical model that captures some aspects of functional plasticity will also be introduced together with several new exciting experimental finding related to “neuronal plasticity”.

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