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Chapter Outline

  1. Starting Out: The Child with Half a Brain

    • -How it is possible for someone to function with only half of a brain

      -What the brain does in order to cope with a smaller amount of available tissue

      -The sensitive period and how this is related to brain development

  2. The Brain Dynamically Reorganizes to Match Its Inputs

    • -How the body is portrayed in the brain

      -The homunculus

      -How and when the brain reorganizes itself

    1. Changes to the Body Plan

      • -How plasticity allows the brain to cope with changes to the body

        -The changes that occur in the brain when an organism loses a limb

        -Phantom sensations


    2. Changes to Sensory Input

      • -What happens if sensory input is artificially blocked

        -Congenitally blind individuals seem to have better senses of hearing and touch


  3. Case Study: Phantom Sensation

  4. Research Methods: Mapping Out the Brain

  5. The Brain Distributes Resources Based on Relevance

    1. The Role of Behavior

      • -Adaptive coding

        -Constraint therapy

    2. The Role of Relevance: Gating Plasticity with Neuromodulation

      • -Gating

        -How attention is related to changes in the brain

        -Neuromodulators and their role in reorganization

        -The difference between tonotopic, somatotopic, and retinotopic maps

  6. Neuroscience of Everyday Life: Pianists and Violinists Have Different Brains

  7. The Brain Uses the Available Tissue

    1. Maps Adjust Themselves to the Available Brain Tissue

      • -Scientists removed half of the optic tectum of a frog

        -Scientists removed half of the retina of a frog

        -Where a neuron’s function comes from

    2. Cortical Reorganization After Brain Damage

      • -Stroke

        -Aphasia and how the brain can overcome the effects of a stroke

  8. Case Study: The Government Worker with the Missing Brain

  9. A Sensitive Period for Plastic Changes

    1. A Window of Time to Make Changes

      • -The sensitive period and what happens after the sensitive period passes

        -The difference between young brains and old brains

    2. The Sensitive Period in Language

      • -The optimal time to learn a new language


        -Are we programmed to learn languages?

    3. Neuromodulation in Young Brains

      • -Why babies’ brains learn many new things easily

        -What happens to our brains as we grow into adults

        -The relationship between efficiency and plasticity

  10. Case Study: Danielle, the Feral Child in the Window

  11. Hardwiring versus World Experience

    1. Aspects of the Brain Are Preprogrammed

      • -Preprogramming versus outside experience

        -Brain development and genetics versus experiences

        -The chemoaffinity hypothesis

    2. Experience Changes the Brain

      • -Neurons in an organism that lives in an enriched, stimulating environment versus a dull, deprived environment

        -The difference in the brains of individuals who attended universities versus those who did not

    3. Brains Rely on Experience to Unpack Their Programs Correctly

      • -The relationship between normal visual development and normal visual activity

        -Held and Hein’s experiment

  12. The Mechanisms of Reorganization

    1. Neurons Compete for Limited Space

      • -What happens to neurons if they do not find a place for themselves

        -What neurons need to function correctly


        -Necrosis and apoptosis

    2. Competition for Neurotrophins

      • -The nerve growth factor

        -Neurotrophins and their role in neural functioning

    3. Rapid Changes: Unmasking Existing Connections

      • -The existence of inhibited existing connections

    4. Slow Changes: Growth of New Connections

      • -When long-term changes occur

  13. Changing the Input Channels

    • -Bionic retinal implant (BRI)

      -The neocortex and sensory substitution devices

      -Types of sensory substitution devices and how they work

  14. Case Study: The Man Who Climbs with His Tongue

  15. The Bigger Picture: Adding New Peripherals

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