Our brains are the hardest working parts of our body, even harder than our heart. This 3-pound muscle never stops working, and it changes and adapts throughout our life — from the minute we are conceived until the second we pass on. It is a never-ending process, and the connections it makes forms that we are.
Neuroscience is the scientific study of the brain and how it works. Scientists, philosophers and wise men have been trying for generations to understand what takes place in our brains to explain human behavior. They all have their theories — but until recently there have been no direct facts to back these theories up. They have pondered the controversial subject of nature versus nurture, and if our behavior is wired into our brains before we are born, or if the environment is the dominant force in what makes us do the things we do, and how we learn.
What is interesting is that all of the above is true — nature and genetics play key roles on the forming of each of us, and even in sets of twins there will be variations. How does that work?
Our brain plasticity, or in scientific terms – Neuroplasticity, is the ability for our brains to organize neural pathways, and adjust these pathways in order to make room for new experiences in our lives. This plasticity forms the basis for our personality, our behaviors, our emotions, our creativity and our whole life in general.
As we experience things in our life the information is taken into our brains and encoded. The codes are then sent on to be processed and routed to where it needs to go in order to continue to be added to our life’s internal journal.
Neuroscientists are certain the connections (plasticity) in the brain are due to a continuous growth of cell connections, redirection, and pruning out of old connections. This process continues to change our brain’s structure. As we continue to grow, learn and evolve the connections get stronger.
We learn new skills and information, through experience or education. As we learn our brains are accommodating all the information we take in. It then memorized and files this information away for another time. This process utilizes many different brain cells types, including neurons, glia and vascular cells. At various times some are more prominent than others.
To show what actually happens in our brains as data is being processed, take a coin and press t into clay. The clay has to move in order for the coin to make an impression. This is what happens within our brain during plasticity as the brain reorganizes to accommodate to the changes taking place.
Two primary conditions produce neuroplasticity:
- Developmental plasticity — when the brains starts to form in the embryo stage and the immature brain cells start to process learning and memory — on to adulthood.
- When the brain compensates for damage or loss of function.
As we have already learned, evolution plays a part in plasticity. The people around us and the situations that exist within our home and community all influence us. Those who grow up in a peaceful and loving environment will be more relaxed and trusting, while those growing up in a combative environment will be less trusting and even violent. Our life experiences are all a part of our overall being, and our brain takes this all in and compartmentalizes it for form the person we are.
About the author:
Ron White is a two-time U.S.A. Memory Champion and memory training expert. As a memory keynote speaker he travels the world to speak before large groups or small company seminars, demonstrating his memory skills and teaching others how to improve their memory, and how important a good memory is in all phases of your life. His CDs and memory products are also available online at BrainAthlete.com.
Brain Connection — The brain plasticity revolution: http://brainconnection.positscience.com/offsite/?offsite_url=http://merzenich.positscience.com/
Washington University — Brain Plasticity, What Is It? http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/plast.html