Intelligence, Learning, and Plasticity (ILP)

A stylized, colorful cross section of human brain

Recent innovations in the psychological and brain sciences have advanced our understanding of human intelligence.

Group Leader: Aron K. Barbey

Rather than engaging a single brain structure or operating at a fixed level of performance throughout adulthood, emerging evidence indicates that intelligence is mediated by a distributed neural system whose functions can be significantly enhanced by specific types of intervention.

Early discoveries in the neurosciences revealed that experience can modify brain structure long after brain development is complete, but we are only now beginning to establish methods to enhance the function of specific brain systems and to optimize core facets of intellectual ability. It is now clear that experience alters the synaptic organization of the brain and that such changes reflect adaptive mechanisms for human learning and memory.

The Intelligence, Learning, and Plasticity initiative endeavors to bring together research on, and researchers interested in, eliciting, measuring, and modeling learning and brain plasticity. It encourages multidisciplinary studies of response to various types of behavioral and cognitive neuroscience-directed interventions (including cognitive training, non-invasive brain stimulation, physical fitness training, mindfulness meditation, and nutritional intervention), as well as in efforts to mitigate or reverse the effects of cognitive aging, memory loss, executive dysfunction, brain injury, and disease.