Note — Mostly we write actionable pieces that are short form. Sometimes the allure of science makes us delve deeper.
The brain has the ability to change itself through neuronal rewiring in response to the needs and requirements of the body.
Countless studies have been done in which scientist have learned that the brain is much more plastic than previously thought. This concept contrasts the traditional thinking of the brain as an unchangeable “machine” in which its structures correspond to specific tasks. The traditional thinking behind this structural design is based on motor brain maps that are topographical, where areas in the brain function parallel to adjacent parts of the body.
However, work from Norman Doidge in his book, The Brain That Changes Itself, proves this to be inaccurate. We can change the structures of our brain through focused thinking and effort.
Surely on of the most extraordinary discoveries of the twentieth century: Scientist showed that thinking, learning, and acting can turn our genes on or off, thus shaping our brain anatomy and behavior. – Norman Doidge
LEARNING ADJUSTS GENES= CHANGES IN BEHAVIOR
Additionally, research is indicating that a damaged brain can correlate to several known and observable psychosocial issues. Dr. Daniel Amen, by using a form of brain imaging called SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography), has been able to further confirm the relationship between a damaged brain with psychological issues such as anxiety, depression, obsessiveness, lack of focus, anger, and even memory problems.
Read More: Change Your Brain, Change Your Life (Amazon)
SPECT gives medical professionals the ability to compare normal brains to those that have been damaged from either physical trauma or an exposure to infection. Dr. Amen uses these images to help guide potential solutions to abnormal behavior and his scans of thousands of brains have given him insight into which parts of the brains correlate to human behavior.
After a quarter century and more than one hundred thousand SPECT scans, the single most important lesson my colleagues and I have learned is this: you can literally change people’s brains, and when you do you can change their lives. You are not stuck with the brain you have; you can make it better, and we can prove it. – Dr. Daniel Amen
Dr. Norman Doidge has done intensive research into the process in which the brain shapes behavior. He is proving that thinking and learning can activate or deactivate our genes, thus altering our brain anatomy and influencing our behavior. Doidge is advocate of intensive brain training to help alter our genetic makeup, using strategies of repetition to rewire the structure of our brain.
He suggests that the advent of neuroplasticity will change how people come to view human nature, since all facets of life are connected to the brain.
Dr. Amen strongly supports the idea of delaying cognitive decline by preserving a person’s “brain reserve,” or additional layers of brain matter that help fight against depression, anxiety, brain fog, and memory problems. A person’s day-to-day activity and commitment to the protection of their brain allows that person to either increase or decrease their brain’s reserves. In addition to age related degeneration, a person’s lifestyle must also be considered as a potentiating factor for additional damage to these reserves.
Barbara Arrowsmith is an educator that grew with up with a hosts of brain issues that were “asymmetrical,” where over and underdeveloped parts of her brain diverged. Her primary issue was understanding the relationships between symbols, which made her struggle to grasp basic concepts in math, grammar, logic and the subtle link between cause and effect.
Through years of independent study and self-experimentation, she connected brain exercises to corresponding parts of the brain. Arrowsmith realized that “weak links” in the brain can be strengthened through brain-based programs, giving people access to skills and abilities that were previously blocked by inherent developmental issues.
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change both its physical structure and its functional organization in response to training and experience- to grow dendrites (the branch like structures on the cell body of the neuron which receive signals coming from other neurons), to form new neural connections, to strengthen existing connections, to grow new neurons, to increase neurotransmitters- all of which fundamentally change the brain’s capacity to learn and to function, and this can happen throughout the lifespan. – Barbara Arrowsmith
Weak links in the brain can be identified and strengthened, thus helping to eliminating issues with speaking, reading, writing- or addressing those that are labeled as “hysterical” or “antisocial.”
THE POTENTIAL FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT IS LIMITLESS
The brain is the source in which we understand the world: change your brain, change your life.
- The Brain That Changes Itself by Dr. Norman Doidge
- Change Your Brain, Change Your Life by Dr. Daniel Amen
- The Arrowsmith School: Strengthening Learning Capacities
- TEDx Video: The Woman Who Change Her Brain
- Full Documentary: The Brain That Changes Itself
- Inside Quest: Change Your Mind with Dr. Norman Doidge
For a more complete experience, consider taking a class through Udemy. Master your brain: Neuroscience for Personal Development is a complete course on how to maximize the potential of neuroplasticity.