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Eur J Paediatr Neurol. 2003;7(3):105-13.

Brain plasticity in paediatric neurology.

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Department of Neurology and Developmental Medicine, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Plasticity includes the brain's capacity to be shaped or moulded by experience, the capacity to learn and remember, and the ability to reorganize and recover after injury. Mechanisms for plasticity include activity-dependent refinement of neuronal connections and synaptic plasticity as a substrate for learning and memory. The molecular mechanisms for these processes utilize signalling cascades that relay messages from synaptic receptors to the nucleus and the cytoskeleton to control the structure of axons and dendrites. Several paediatric neurological disorders such as neurofibromatosis-1, Fragile X syndrome, Rett syndrome, and other syndromic and non-specific forms of mental retardation involve lesions in these signalling pathways. Acquired disorders such as hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy, lead poisoning and epilepsy also involve signalling pathways including excitatory glutamate receptors. Information about these 'plasticity pathways' is useful for understanding their pathophysiology and potential therapy.

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