NNL.20.002 – The resilient brain – mechanisms of cognitive plasticity over a lifetime

Route: NeuroLabNL: the ultimate living lab for brain, cognition and behavioural research

Cluster question: 139 How does our brain process and retain information, and what role do plasticity and networks play at different microscopic and macroscopic levels?

Modern society places many challenges on keeping the brain cognitively flexible. During childhood the direct interaction with the environment is of utmost important to shape the brain. Typically, we are flexible and open to learning. At this stage, early life stressors may affect plasticity and impact on how we do later in life. As adults we become more exposed to stress of social environment or specific (traumatic) events, which requires coping skills and cognitive plasticity. When growing older we find that coping with a changing environment may not be such an easy task anymore. For some at old age plasticity processes are still easily accessed, for others this becomes harder.
In this project we investigate the mechanisms of cognitive plasticity that are acting during different phases of life, how these depend on each other, and on stress, nutrition, physical activity, and learning. Also, we investigate the efficacy of non-invasive neuromodulatory technologies to maintain a healthy brain. We do so in humans and preclinical models. Understanding plasticity processes of the brain during life brings the promise of evidence-based therapies that are key to successfully adapt to future challenges and a healthy society.


brain, cognition, memory mechanisms, neuromodulation, plasticity

Other organisations

Amsterdam University Medical Center (Amsterdam UMC), Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), Hogeschool Utrecht, Leiden Universitair Medisch Centrum (LUMC), Nemo, Universitair Medisch Centrum Groningen (UMCG), Universiteit van Amsterdam


Organisation Vrije Universiteit (VU)
Name Prof.dr. A.B. (Guus) Smit
E-mail guus.smit@vu.nl
Website cncr.nl