Activity-dependent plasticity of long-range sensorimotor connectivity


  • Prof Heidi Johansen-Berg

    University of Oxford

Project summary

Brain plasticity refers to the brain’s capacity to change due to changes in behaviour, experience or the environment. It is a core biological process that plays a key role in learning, development and recovery from injury. Although plasticity has been studied for decades, research has concentrated on focal changes in the individual connection points between brain cells. However, the brain also operates via long-range connecting pathways, which allow different brain regions to communicate with each other. The possibility that these long-range connections can alter their structure and function has been recognised only recently and there are many unanswered questions about this phenomenon.

We will examine how experience shapes the adult brain. We will test how quickly long-range connections can be altered by learning or changes in activity. We will also test whether changes in long-range connections reflect changes in myelin, the insulation around the fibres.

We will use our findings to test new approaches to help people rehabilitate after stroke.