When an individual is learning a new skill, recovering from a brain damage, or participating in an intervention program, plastic changes take place in the brain. However, brain plasticity, intensively studied in animals, is not readily accessible in humans to whom invasive research methods cannot be applied without valid clinical or therapeutic reasons. Animal models, in turn, do not provide information about higher mental functions like language or music. Evoked neural responses have shed new light to the mechanisms underlying learning and recovery, however. Of particular interest are those higher order neural responses that can be recorded even with absence of attention, such as the mismatch negativity (MMN) and N1. They enable one to determine plastic neural changes even in patients who are unable to communicate and in infants learning a language. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
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