Unraveling the mysteries of brain plasticity

Published: 13 March 2023

Have you ever wondered what happens inside someone’s brain when they’re learning how to play a musical instrument or how to ride a bike?

Headshot of Aparna Suvrathan

One of the brain’s most fundamental and amazing functions is the ability to adapt to and learn from new experiences, environments and stimuli through a process called brain plasticity.

Brain plasticity occurs at the level of synapses, which are the points of communication between neurons—a specialized type of cell that is the basic building block of our nervous system. Changes in synapses lead to changes in how corresponding neural circuits function in the brain, and in turn, lead to changes in our behaviour. However, there is still much that researchers don’t understand about how the brain encodes these new circuits for these new behaviours to persist and become part of our brain’s normal operation.

HBHL-funded researcher Aparna Suvrathan—Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology & Neurosurgery at McGill—is working with her team to bridge this gap in our understanding by investigating the underlying principles of neuronal plasticity during learning.

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