What is Neuroplasticity?

4 min read  |  January 31, 2024  | 

Your brain is constantly changing. As you learn new things and experience life events, neurons form new connections, establish new pathways, and, in essence, make new things possible. This understanding of how the brain works is known as neuroplasticity. 

It’s a phenomenon that we’re just starting to understand, but it may have long-term implications for preventing and even treating certain medical conditions as our knowledge about neuroplasticity grows over time. 

“Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize and adapt itself structurally and functionally in response to experiences and learning,” says Miguel A. Perez-Pinzon, Ph.D., director of the Peritz Scheinberg Cerebral Vascular Disease Research Laboratories for the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “This process includes the growth of new neurons, changes in neural connections, and the brain’s capability to transfer functions from damaged to undamaged areas. Ongoing animal research continues to shed light on this complex and dynamic aspect of brain function, highlighting its importance in understanding learning processes and rehabilitation strategies.” 

Think of the brain as a muscle. 

For muscles to grow stronger as you age, you must subject them to stress and hard work through weightlifting and other activities. 

Your brain is the same way. If you don’t challenge yourself with new ideas, knowledge, and experiences, then the neurons in your brain don’t have an opportunity to forge new pathways. But if you are constantly learning, changing, evolving, and challenging yourself, your brain may become wired to be more flexible and adaptable. 

“Essentially, every time we learn, adapt or overcome challenges, our brain’s neural pathways are being modified and strengthened, demonstrating the continuous and dynamic nature of neuroplasticity in our daily lives,” says Dr. Perez-Pinzon. 

In some areas, the promise of neuroplasticity is already being explored as a potential medical treatment. 

For example, a 2020 review article in the journal Frontiers in Neurology highlighted the promise of neuroplasticity-based treatments in helping people recover in the aftermath of a stroke. Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are two other neurodegenerative disorders for which the promise of neuroplasticity-based treatments is being explored. 

“In stroke rehabilitation, therapies leverage the brain’s ability to reorganize itself, focusing on exercises to regain control of affected limbs and improve motor functions,” says Dr. Perez-Pinzon. “Techniques such as constraint-induced movement therapy encourage the brain to rewire and recover movement in the affected areas. For Alzheimer’s disease, exploiting neuroplasticity provides insights into potentially slowing the disease’s progression.” 

Add neuroplasticity to your daily life.

Regularly challenging your brain with new knowledge, ideas, and experiences may prevent illness as you age. At the least, they can make you a more well-rounded individual and adaptable to changing circumstances. Dr. Perez-Pinzon notes that he sees cognitive activities as part of the puzzle, along with regular physical activity, as the two keys to keeping the brain strong and limber as you age. 

“By engaging in regular physical exercise and cognitive activities, individuals can stimulate their brain’s plasticity, leading to improved cognitive function, memory and overall brain health,” he says. “Cognitive tasks like learning new skills, engaging in puzzles, reading, or even learning a new language can also strengthen neural pathways. By combining physical and cognitive exercises, individuals can foster a more resilient and adaptable brain, enhancing their ability to learn, remember and adapt to new challenges throughout their lives.” 

Wyatt Myers is a contributor to UHealth’s news service.


1) Neuroplasticity, GoodTherapy, 2019,

2) Interview with Miguel A. Perez-Pinzon, Ph.D. director of the Peritz Scheinberg Cerebral Vascular Disease Research Laboratories for the University of Miami Heath System.

3) Brainwork: The Power of Neuroplasticity, Cleveland Clinic, 2024,

4) Enhancing Brain Plasticity to Promote Stroke Recovery, Frontiers in Neurology, 2020,

5) Targeting neuroplasticity in patients with neurodegenerative diseases using brain stimulation techniques, Translational Neurodegeneration, 2020,

Tags: academic medicine, Dr. Miguel A. Perez-Pinzon, neurology care in Miami, neurology research

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