Can you change your brain?
So, what is neuroplasticity?
In short, when you change your thinking and experience new things, this can change the structure and function of your brain; this is a simple explanation of neuroplasticity.
Old dogs cannot learn new tricks, as the old saying goes.
But, unfortunately, people have used it for years to demonstrate how human beings become set in their ways and are difficult to change.
Well, today, that statement no longer holds water. Today you can teach old brains new tricks.
Your brain is far more flexible than you could ever imagine.
It constantly reorganises itself, moving cognitive abilities from one lobe to another, like a computer hard disk being defragmented and reorganised to create more efficient operation.
Research has shown that the brain of stroke victims allocates functions to undamaged areas of the brain.
Your brain’s ability to carry out these kinds of allocations and changes opens up a whole new world for those serious about therapeutic and cognitive changes.
London Taxi Drivers
The hippocampus (the part of the brain that holds spatial representation) of the London taxi driver is significantly larger than that of the London bus driver.
The Bus driver doesn’t need to exercise that part of his brain, as he drives the same route every day.
On the other hand, the London taxi driver relies on it constantly to navigate the city.
The Moken or Sea Gypsies are a People off the coast of Thailand.
They spend a great deal of time diving to great depths in search of shellfish.
The Moken divers do this without scuba gear.
The result of this is their vision is twice as good as the Europeans.
They do this by restricting their pupils by 22 per cent. Neuroscientists say that anyone can learn to do this; it isn’t genetics.
You see, the brain will command the body to adapt to any situation should the need arise.
If you were to restrict a certain sense, your body would make a similar adaption.
Your amazing brain will rewire itself to open new neural pathways to heighten the power of your other senses and so prevent you from drowning, falling or losing your way.
So you see, you can teach your old brain new tricks, just like physical exercise benefits your body, so mindfulness and brain exercise trains your brain.
What is Neuroplasticity Really?
The commonly held belief was that the brain was a physiologically static network of neurons, and once programmed, it was tough to change or reprogram after childhood.
Today this belief has been rapidly replaced with an understanding that the brain is plastic and malleable.
Neuroplasticity (also known as cortical re-mapping) refers to the human brain’s ability to change due to one’s experience.
The brain’s ability to change is good news for us as human beings.
As a result, it means we can change and replace ideas, thoughts and beliefs that no longer serve us.
No longer are we stuck in a place we don’t want to be.
We no longer have to live a life that is below our potential.
Instead, through our experiences, we can create new connections within the brain that help us achieve our goals.
These changes help us defeat disease, break bad habits, and live a fuller, healthier life.
A fundamental principle of neuroplasticity is that connections within the brain are constantly pruned and recreated.
As the aphorism goes, neurons that fire together, wire together, and neurons that fire apart, wire apart.
Today the role of neuroplasticity is widely recognised in learning, as well as recovery from brain damage.
Neuroplasticity significantly increases memory, fitness and exercise as well as helps in the treatment of learning difficulties.
Many years of research have found that substantial changes occur in the lowest neocortical processing areas.
Furthermore, these changes can significantly alter the pattern of neural activation in response to experience.
Thus, the experience can change the brain’s physical structure (anatomy) and functional organisation (physiology) from top to bottom.
Resource: Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroplasticity#Fitness_and_exercise