Send to

Choose Destination
Cortex. 2010 Sep;46(8):1043-59. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2009.10.008. Epub 2009 Oct 29.

Margaret Kennard (1899-1975): not a 'principle' of brain plasticity but a founding mother of developmental neuropsychology.

Author information

Program in Neurosciences and Mental Health, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada.


According to the 'Kennard Principle', there is a negative linear relation between age at brain injury and functional outcome. Other things being equal, the younger the lesioned organism, the better the outcome. But the 'Kennard Principle' is neither Kennard's nor a principle. In her work, Kennard sought to explain the factors that predicted functional outcome (age, to be sure, but also staging, laterality, location, and number of brain lesions, and outcome domain) and the neural mechanisms that altered the lesioned brain's functionality. This paper discusses Kennard's life and years at Yale (1931-1943); considers the genesis and scope of her work on early-onset brain lesions, which represents an empirical and theoretical foundation for current developmental neuropsychology; offers an historical explanation of why the 'Kennard Principle' emerged in the context of early 1970s work on brain plasticity; shows why uncritical belief in the 'Kennard Principle' continues to shape current research and practice; and reviews the continuing importance of her work.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center