While Neurogenesis refers to the ‘birth’ of new neurons, Neuroplasticity stands for the brain’s ability to change and adapt in response to environmental stimuli. Our brains may be aging, but they are also continuing to develop (Neurogenesis) and change (Neuroplasticity). Both notions challenge the previously thought view that the brain develops only during a critical period in early childhood and remains fairly unchanged since then.
While Neurogenesis and Neuroplasticity may refer to two different concepts, they co-work in a synergistic manner in some contexts. For instance, throughout our adult lives, new neurons are ‘born’ in special parts of the brain, which contribute to learning (a response of neuroplasticity).
Ideally, our brain cells (or neurons) should maintain a constant equilibrium. This means neurons should be replenished at the same rate that they die. However, the rate of neurons generation depends on a number of factors, including age, neural activity, stress level, diet, the presence of neurotoxins, etc. This explains neurogenesis’ functions for the brain’s maintenance, while brain plasticity is for improving and adapting the brain by creating new and destroying old neural pathways and connections.
Two concepts, alone or together are used to treat brain injuries. Through enhancing Neuroplasticity, it is made sure that neuronal cells survive and compensate through brain reorganization and rewiring of neuronal cells. Alternatively, with Neuroplasticity, Neurogenesis is used to regenerate neuronal cells in a damaged brain.