Abstract and Keywords
This article reviews the neuroscience of neuroplasticity in human beings and other mammals. It presents a contemporary neural systems view of brain functional organization, reviews evidence on the importance of sensory input to maintain neuronal viability, and describes studies that demonstrate that the nature of that input influences brain structure and function. The centrality of socially generated stimulation is discussed through citation of the work of Harlow and Mears with infant monkeys, and more recent work in rats identifying epigenetic changes in DNA structure leading to lifelong effects of early maternal behaviors. The article presents brain-imaging studies that analyze the effects of environmentally induced activity on human brain structure and function. The study describes some of the ways established internal structures act on the environment to make it match those structures. The overall goal is to lay the groundwork for broad ranging consideration of the issues raised and their ethics implications.
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