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The human brain is not static, but is shape-shifting, upgrading, maintaining and housekeeping itself all the time.
The constant rewiring, adapting and upgrading is happening not just in our formative years, but through the course of our lifetime. This neuroplasticity of the brain can be nurtured and stimulated for further development.
While neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to form fresh connections and to rewire itself, neurogenesis is the brain’s ability to grow new neurons.
Experiments in the 1960s discovered that traumatic events, stress and anxiety are detrimental to the neuron cells of the brain. This led to new understandings about the brain being a regenerative organ, where cells can regrow and replenish, also known as neurogenesis.
Neuroplasticity has two broad types:
Just like medications and chemicals change our brain, neuroplasticity has the potential to reinvent oneself and get over the traumatic events of the past. It has the power to dissolve our hardwired memories which are fear-based.
When the brain learns new things, it connects neuron cells and creates new pathways. Learning new facts may not be very useful, but if one learns a new language, skill or a musical instrument, the neuron magic starts to happen and the rewiring begins.
If we have a growth mindset, where our skills and abilities can be consciously developed, the magic of the brain’s neuroplasticity starts to happen.
Apart from forming new pathways and connections, neuroplasticity can also:
One can boost or enhance neuroplasticity by:
Patients with severe brain damage are able to rapidly heal themselves, practically remodelling the brain a few days or weeks after the trauma.
What’s weird is that a brain injury is a great time to take advantage of the rapid reorganization, recovery and other significant changes that a brain can perform on itself. During stroke recovery, learning something new or even re-learning something can result in significant gains.
Psychiatric disorders, stress, anxiety and depression are by itself neuroplasticity, but in a negative, destruction-oriented way.
The damage caused to the brain by these mental disorders encourages unhealthy and dangerous pathways.
Breathing exercises, body awareness, changing thought patterns using meditation and memory exercises can help with the reversal of the negative neuroplasticity caused by mental disorders.
Depression and anxiety can be regulated and reversed by certain exercises:
These techniques can also be used for treating ADHD, OCD and autism. Online games and apps work more or less the same if the other aspects like learning and exercising are also engaged with.
Neurons are by themselves responsible for the experience of pain. The brain can adapt and manage chronic pain by:
Apart from these, there are some regular things that we can do to treat chronic pain: exercising, avoiding junk food, quitting smoking, keeping the mind engaged and practising mindfulness.
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Our minds are not static, but dynamic. The Brain has the capability to modify itself, change its structure, and to alter its biochemistry, at any age.
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You can improve your grey matter by learning a new, complex skill like juggling.
The simple act of juggling has recently been linked with better brain function. A new study reveals that learning to juggle may cause certain areas of your brain to grow.
Even if it is just for 10 minutes before going to bed, you should be learning new stuff every day, a new skill, a new word, a new kind of idea or philosophy. Expose your brain to new frontiers.
Living longer creates more complexity in our relationships. What should we be doing for the next few decades?
Accept the complexity of an increased life span as a wonderful challenge.
Even though our bodies deteriorate and impede our abilities with age, our brains continue to function well. The brain continues to form new connections and create new cells. It is our self-imposed limits that hold us back, not the capacity of our brain.
A study revealed that a positive attitude had a greater impact on survival. Positive people outlived negative people by an average of seven and a half years.
Any kind of exercise, be it aerobic, walking or Yoga, changes the brain's composition, structure and the way it operates. The changes that happen to the brain:
The brain's electric impulses change, and the Beta waves increase during and after exercise, putting it in a better, more alert state.
Exercise makes our senses sharper and clearer, and we are more perceptive and have better sensitivity to our surroundings.