What does the Guide say?

The development of neural networks through repetition and neural pruning is both genetic and subject to environmental influences. Neural networks can change developmentally, over time
or after injury.

SAQs could use the following terms: neuroplasticity,  neural network, neural pruning, neuron.

Great infographic for the classroom wall:

Amazing clip of a new synapse forming:  credited to the amazing neuroscientist Dr. Lila Landowski.

Long term potentiation:

Brilliant clip of the wonderful Marian Diamond talking about ageing, brains, neuroplasticity and rats:

Danelli Case Study:

Relevant research studies

Draganski’s jugglers – draganski2004

Draganki’s medical students:

Making juggler APFC notes/research rainbow:

picture reference for draganki juggler notes

Evaluating a study GRAVE: grave2 web-grave

Evaluating Draganski; Creating chains of reasoning

Using Draganki to support neuroplasticity: using a study to support a concept or theory

If you wish to use Maguire for this section, you could consider evaluating with this study:

Linking neuroplasticity to Abnormal Option (biological etiology of MDD):

Linking neuroplasticity to the Health Option (e.g. stress): you could look at research that demonstrates the neuroplastic effects of mindfulness, such as Holzel et al. (2011). 

Practice Questions and Model Answers

Please be aware from 2020 SAQs can include the terms neurons, neural networks and neural pruning.


  1. Describe one study of neuroplasticity. (9)
  2. Explain how neural networks are formed with reference to one research study. (9)
  3. Explain the process of neural pruning with reference to one research study. (9)
  • You could include dendritic retraction and the study of Draganski’s jugglers where the mid temporal region decreases in size three months after the juggling group ceased practising.


ERQ model essay (a little long but hopefully helpful): evaluate-research-on-neuroplasticity (1)


Wordmint Bingo cards and clues: Neuroplasticity – WordMint bingo and clues-for-neuroplasticity-bingo

Wordmint – Mix and Match to help with making explicit links in the final part of an SAQ.

Quizizz link here for teachers:


Neuroplasticity (Part 2):

Draganski (plasticity):

Something to watch:

The amazing rehabilitation of Gabbie Giffords using music therapy: