Our brain continues to change itself throughout our lifetime. This may be a simplistic term and entry to neuroscience, but that’s the basic concept. Retaining all the functions requires a great deal of activity, and that starts at the beginning — a blank slate that has potential and will be formed by all the things around him or her.
As a newborn, most of us have formed a basic brain. A normal brain comes with folds and connectivity from one brain cell to another. The structure is there, but how it is used is formed by our culture — what we learn, what we do, how we speak, and how we react. The connections (plasticity) are created by any activity the baby will do as it grows.
Once the baby is born it is exposed to things that will hit its senses — the bright lights of the delivery room, the voices of the doctor and its parents, the feeling of touch as its parents check it out and the warmth of the blanket wrapped around it. A “switch” has been turned on and now the activity begins. It takes in everything around it, and does not have the understanding or knowledge to filter out what is not needed yet. The environment shapes what it takes in is the beginning of language processing and working memory.
Our culture evolves and our brains evolve as well. As we grow we are acquiring new skills, and when we reach adulthood we utilize the ones we have mastered. An older brain controls its own plasticity. It has spent the previous years mastering skills that the brain is now utilizing. Plasticity only occurs when the brain allows it, and that comes with utilizing our brain for activities. EVERY TIME YOU ACQUIRE A NEW SKILL OR LEARN A NEW LESSON, YOUR BRAIN UNDERGOES CHANGE. At any time and every age, your brain is constantly changing.
If somewhere along the line the brain loses it’s ability to make connections correctly, through mental illness, abnormal development or natural aging, it most often can be corrected, and the connections rerouted or strengthened, through brain rehabilitation, deep brain stimulation and/or medications.
The normal function of the brain, as we have reiterated, is constantly changing. It starts out as an infant in retro speed, slowing down and leveling off in mid-life, and slowing down considerably in older age. Older brains are more error prone, more sensitive to noise and signals, have slower reflexes and processing time, and learn at a slower pace. This is not to say older people are dumber. You have to remember they have many years ahead of you in learning, so although they may be slower at reacting they have a lot more to recall than younger brains. Just like a child struggling in school, most of what they take in doesn’t move on to long-term memory. This doesn’t have to happen be as dire as it sounds.
Brain training, brain games, memory course and other memory techniques can add ten or more years to brain life. This is significant as we age, and we will be able to sustain a quality of life we have come to enjoy, even if we are slowing down a bit.
My name is Ron White, two-time USA Memory Champion. The excellent video above goes into much more detail about memory, the brain and plasticity than an article is able to do. It is a bit long, but well worth the time to watch.
YouTube.com -Think faster, focus better, and remember more- Rewiring our brain to stay younger… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyPrL0cmJRs