More on Adult Brain Plasticity

Researchers are getting closer to inducing the adult brain to reconfigure and repair itself in response to damage: "The [study] identified a set of proteins - calpain and cortactin, which regulate and control the sprouting of neurons - a mechanism known as neural plasticity. ... During development, growing neurons are relatively plastic and can sprout new connections, however their plasticity levels drop rapidly as they mature and become integrated into neuronal networks. ... as a consequence, the central nervous system is unable to reorganize itself in response to injury or disease. ... This discovery is exciting because we now know that neurons haven't lost their capacity to re-grow connections, but instead are under constant repression by the protein calpain. If we can target therapies that block this mechanism, then neurons should be able to sprout new connections, therefore stimulating the brain's ability to repair its wiring network. ... The next step is to find a way to enhance neural plasticity without interfering with the good connections that are already in place."