Posted tagged ‘nueronal plasticity’

Plastic Rats

June 28, 2013

plastic rats[originally published in KCN, May 2008]

The word “Plastic” means different things to different people.   We all probably relate to the countless plastic products and materials that we have come to rely on.  Everything from drinking cups to dashboards — rain gear to baby toys — traffic cones to sunglasses.  Still others might reach for their wallets to show off their “plastic.”  And sometimes  plastic is the perfect word  to describe something that is fake or artificial.  But ask a scientist, engineer, or artist to define the word plastic, and you just might be in for an answer that you have never heard before.  For these professional fields have definitions of plastic that revolve around a material’s ability to change in shape — much like plastic does when it is heated.  Specifically however, when “plastic” is used in the biological sciences it refers to an organism’s ability to “exhibit adaptability to change or variety in the environment.”

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