The plastic brain.

Position:LETTERS - Letter to the editor

Thank you for Richard Restak's article in the Winter 2011 SCHOLAR, touching upon some of the more superficial domains of philosophy now being investigated with imaging by neuroscientists, such as time sense and the phenomenon long known as "secondary elaboration."

Though Dr. Restak may not have been taught about the brain's plasticity by his medical school professors, his assertion that brain plasticity is a 10-year-old idea is just patently wrong. Brain plasticity was first conceptually implied in 1957 when a young doctoral candidate, Bernadine Smith, showed that intensive teaching could change a child's abilities as measured by IQ tests.

By 1964, two laboratories had independently proven that brain morphology and chemistry could be altered by experience. Less than two years later, Marian Diamond demonstrated that the brains of animals are altered in mass, density, and volume by stimulation at any age and not--with the notable exception of primary language acquisition--only during certain windows of development as had been previously thought.

The leap to generalizing from these studies in mammals to humans was just a formality, as the...

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