last updated:

March 16, 2021

[Brain Image]    

PSY/BSC 340 Brain and Behavior

Class 16:  Plasticity after Brain Damage


Plasticity After Brain Damage: How does the brain get damaged and long-term outcomes 
Plastic => Latin, plasticus ="of molding," from Greek plastikos, from plassein = "to mold, form"
How much can the brain be molded or formed (or changed or adapt) after it has been damage?

I. Brain Damage and Short-term Recovery

A. How is the brain damaged?


B. Specific Types of Damage

  1. Closed Head Injury = sharp blow to the head which does not puncture the brain

This is the most common type of head injury in younger people. Caused by car & motor cycle accidents, falls, etc. While 80-85% of closed head injuries are mild, about 5-10% are quite severe and lead to long-term problems.

Normal Brain vs. Advanced CTE

Aaron Hernandez CTE

  2. Stroke (cerebrovascular accident [CVA]) = temporary or permanent loss of blood flow to a brain area.

   A. Two Types of Strokes

 B. Reducing Harm from a Stroke

II. Later Mechanisms of Recovery

A. Increased Brain Stimulation

Diaschisis (Greek, = "shocked throughout") -> decreased activity of surviving neurons throughout the brain after damage to other neurons.

  • More distant neurons (not damaged) may no longer receive stimulation from areas of damage. This leads to overall decreased activity in nervous system.
  • Recovery from stroke often requires increased stimulation from the contralateral side of the body.
  • Tranquilizers impair recovery

Paralysis following spinal cord injuryB. Regrowth of Axons

[Collateral sprouting]C. Axon Sprouting

D. Denervation Supersensitivity

E. Reorganized Sensory Representations and the Phantom Limb

[Homunculus & Phantom Limb

F. Learned Adjustments in Behavior

If you find the material for this class particularly interesting, you should know that some of it comes from a field called "clinical neuropsychology" -- the study of the behavior of brains that are damaged. I will probably next teach my PSY 448 course on this topic in the 2020-2021 academic year
Students who might want to study clinical neuropsychology as graduate students can check out the webpages of the American Psychological Association's Division 40 Clinical Neuropsychology for information on graduate programs, etc.



Ge, Y., et al (2020) NMDARs in cell survival and death: Implications in stroke pathogenesis and treatment. Trends in Molecular Medicine, 26(6).. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molmed.2020.03.001

This page was first posted February 18, 2005.