A conceptual framework for plasticity in the developing brain

Fatima Y. Ismail, Milos R. Ljubisavljevic, Michael V. Johnston

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this chapter, we highlight the various definitions of early brain plasticity commonly used in the scientific literature. We then present a conceptual framework of early brain plasticity that focuses on plasticity at the level of the synapse (synaptic plasticity) and the level of the network (connectivity). The proposed framework is organized around three main domains through which current theories and principles of early brain plasticity can be integrated: (1) the mechanisms of plasticity and constraints at the synaptic level and network connectivity, (2) the importance of temporal considerations related to the development of the immature brain, and (3) the functions early brain plasticity serve. We then apply this framework to discuss some clinical disorders caused by and/or associated with impaired plasticity mechanisms. We propose that a careful examination of the relationship between mechanisms, constraints, and functions of early brain plasticity in health and disease may provide an integrative understanding of the current theories and principles generated by experimental and observational studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Clinical Neurology
PublisherElsevier B.V.
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NameHandbook of Clinical Neurology
ISSN (Print)0072-9752
ISSN (Electronic)2212-4152


  • Compensation
  • Connectivity
  • Critical period
  • Development
  • Homeostasis
  • Maturation
  • Network
  • Plasticity
  • Reorganization
  • Repair
  • Synapses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'A conceptual framework for plasticity in the developing brain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this