Definition: Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to create additional capacity at any age. It combines the words “neuron” (or neural) and “plasticity” (plastic-like).
The term is typically used to contrast with the older beliefs that the brain reaches is maximum capacity and then declines for the rest of one’s life. Neuroplasticity is seen as natural and occurring in functioning brains.
Simple explanation: The brain consists of parts that are connected to store ideas and memories. Via neuroplasticity, the brain creates new connections, and also strengthens connections.
A simple example is that you can remember this sentence, or to remember what you ate for breakfast, because you have neuroplasticity. Why? Well, these memories requires your brain to create these new memories, by making new brain connections (even if temporarily).
Why all the fuss? Because, if neuroplasticity is part of the normal functioning of the human brain, then understanding of how to use neuroplasticity to improve any brain is one of the new frontiers of brain research. There is much more detail on the Wikipedia neuroplasticity page.
For most people, using neuroplasticity means doing brain exercises to improve overall ability. These brain exercises include playing games, learning a language, solving puzzles, and learning crafts.
Does the term fit? The term neuroplasticity describes brain development. But, broken into it’s parts “neuron” and “plasticity” it does not seem to adequately describe itself. This is because plasticity generally describes a fixed substance that can change shape, and the brain actually creates new memory circuits using new material. Moving the brain or stretching it would actually create damage. But the term includes the plasticity of capability… of thought… which is what happens to the mind when the brain improves.