In contrast to most cell types, neurons cannot divide or proliferate. However, the neural progenitor cells have this capability. They are able to take over neural tasks. During that process new contacts are being linked with each other. This is how learning shapes the brains structure. The cells, which are being used, build stronger links, whereas the not demanded cells wither.
The functional and structural adaptation of the nervous system to special requirements is known as neuroplasticity. The tremendous versatility of the brain remains intact for a lifetime, which trials with adult piano beginners have verified. After only a 20-minute practice new nerve links can be proven in aspiring pianists: Cerebral areas for sensory perception and movement link in an intensified way. Playing the piano helps to practice coordination and concentration and develops an emotionally stimulating effect. Therefore we are not born with a finished neuronal network. Our brain has a huge potential for development. Take advantage of your “neurogenic Reserve“.
Text from Prof. Dr. Dr. rer. nat. Dieter Lütjohann; translated into English by Johannes Paqué