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Contrary to old beliefs, the human brain is dynamic, capable of forming new connections throughout our lifetimes. The ability of this complex organ to rewire itself and change its own landscape as it learns and adapts to new circumstances is called neuroplasticity. Powerful stimuli, both positive and negative, can pave new networks that have physical, mental, social, and psychological effects even after that initial trigger is gone.

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1. Functional Neuroplasticity

Functional neuroplasticity falls into four major categories:

  • Homologous area adaptation occurs when significant damage to one brain hemisphere prompts the undamaged hemisphere to assume the former's cognitive processes.
  • Cross-modal reassignment is when a part of the brain that worked with one kind of sensory input accepts a new kind of input, like when the sense of touch becomes a visual tool for blind people.
  • Map expansion means that the brain’s performance has increased so much that the function region has expanded, as with someone who learns and practices a new language.
  • Finally, compensatory masquerade happens when the brain tries to think of some alternative strategy to accomplish a task.
functional neuroplasticity adaptation koto_feja / Getty Images
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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.