To what extent are human beings capable of changing their physical characteristics and behavioural patterns over the course of their lives? This question has engaged scientists for decades: the fundamental issue is plasticity. In this wide-ranging book, Richard Lerner explores the relevant theory and empirical evidence in a variety of disciplines: molecular genetics, neuroanatomy, neurochemistry, evolutionary biology, anthropology, comparative and developmental psychology, and sociology. The processes studied by each of these disciplines show evidence of plasticity. Conclusions about plasticity have important implications for interventions aimed at enhancing human life, as well as for future research agendas. On the Nature of Human Plasticity will be a valuable resource for all those scientists concerned with human development at biological and social levels and for their students.
Foreword Paul Baltes; Preface; 1. Perspectives on plasticity; 2. The life-span view of human development: philosophical, historical and substantive bases; 3. Gene making, recombinant DNA technology and gene transfer: toward true gene therapy; 4. Neuroanatomical bases of human plasticity; 5. Human neurochemistry and the role of neurotransmitters; 6. Evolutionary biology and hominid evolution; 7. Comparative-developmental psychological bases of plasticity; 8. Individual and group interdependencies; 9. Toward future multidisciplinary efforts; 10. Conclusions: on the limits of plasticity and the plasticity of limits; References; Indexes.