When Was Neuroplasticity Discovered?
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change and adapt in response to experience. It’s a fascinating phenomenon that has only been widely recognized and studied in recent years. But when was neuroplasticity discovered?
Interestingly, the concept of neuroplasticity is not new. In fact, it was first described back in the late 19th century by pioneering neurologist Paul Broca. Broca noticed that patients who had lost the ability to speak following damage to a specific area of the brain still retained some ability to understand language. This led him to conclude that the brain must be capable of reorganizing itself after injury.
However, it wasn’t until the mid-20th century that neuroplasticity began to be taken seriously by the scientific community. In the 1950s, researcher Donald Hebb proposed the theory that neurons that fire together wire together. This idea paved the way for further research into how the brain changes in response to experience.
In the 1980s, researcher Michael Merzenich found that monkeys who were trained to use a joystick to move a cursor on a screen were able to increase the number of neurons dedicated to this task. This was some of the first evidence that showed that adults could actually grow new neurons a process known as neurogenesis.
Since then, there has been a huge surge in interest in neuroplasticity and its potential implications. We now know that the brain is capable of amazing feats of adaptation, even into old age. Neuroplasticity provides hope for those with neurological conditions, and opens up new possibilities for enhancing cognitive performance in healthy individuals.
So when was neuroplasticity discovered? While the concept has been around for over a century, it is only in recent years that we have begun to really understand the mechanisms behind it and harness its power.