Plasticity in early alzheimer disease

Nikki L. Hill, Ann M. Kolanowski, David J. Gill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The scientific evidence of plasticity, or the brain's dynamic ability to alter its organization and activation throughout one's lifetime, has increased significantly over the last decade. This analytic review evaluates selected evidence regarding the persistence of plasticity in people with early-stage Alzheimer disease (AD). Functional neuroimaging provides persuasive evidence of plasticity throughout aging as well as the early stages of dementia, including the possibility of a heightened response during the prodromal period of AD. Behavioral outcomes research demonstrates the ability of people with early-stage AD to relearn previously forgotten information or otherwise improve cognitive abilities after a cognition-focused intervention. Both of these bodies of evidence support the existence of compensatory processes at work, even in the presence of dementiarelated pathology. This retained ability of the brain to adapt to neurodegenerative disease in an attempt to maintain function may provide a valuable opportunity for intervention, particularly in the prodromal or earliest stages of AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-267
Number of pages11
JournalTopics in Geriatric Rehabilitation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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