Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Towards a stronger science of human plasticity

People have been told that 'brain training' will make them not only better at playing certain games but smarter in general. However, evidence indicates that brain plasticity is specific to the acquired skill. The search for neural mechanisms of transfer of training-induced benefits needs to build on this evidence.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. Lövdén, M. et al. A theoretical framework for the study of adult cognitive plasticity. Psychol. Bull. 136, 659–676 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Lindenberger, U. Human cognitive aging: corriger la fortune? Science 346, 572–578 (2014).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Simons, D. J. et al. Do “brain-training” programs work? Psychol. Sci. Public Interest 17, 103–186 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Hübener, M. & Bonhoeffer, T. Neuronal plasticity: beyond the critical period. Cell 159, 727–737 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Wenger, E. et al. Repeated structural imaging reveals nonlinear progression of experience-dependent volume changes in human motor cortex. Cereb. Cortex. (2016).

Download references


The authors thank L. Carstensen, J. Delius, S. Kühn, U. Mayr and N. Raz for valuable discussions, and the Max Planck Society for continued support.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ulman Lindenberger.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lindenberger, U., Wenger, E. & Lövdén, M. Towards a stronger science of human plasticity. Nat Rev Neurosci 18, 261–262 (2017).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing