The Science Behind Neuro Plasticity

Neuro plasticity is one of the latest buzzwords in the field of neuroscience. Put simply it refers to the ability of the human brain to reorganize itself. This has many positive implications for humanity. In effect it means we can train our brains, and mold them to our requirements.

It is believed that the brain reorganizes itself by forging new neural pathways in response to changing circumstances and environments. If an experience is encountered repeatedly the pathway that processes that experience becomes more deeply etched upon the mind. This enables people to respond quickly and appropriately in given situations. A simple example of this would be a musician improving their piano skills through repeated practice.

This may seem obvious, and of course for many years it has been the accepted model of how the very young learn and develop. Rather sadly, however, it was also thought that the brain lost its plastic qualities as people grew older. It was believed that people were ‘hard wired’, that their thinking processes and capabilities were fixed. Recent research undermines these old assumptions.

It would appear that at any given point in a person’s life the brain is capable of rewiring itself. This has been evidenced, for example, by stroke victims regaining lost functions once governed by an irreversibly damaged cortex. They can do this by developing new pathways in another region of the brain, which gradually learn take over the functioning of the damaged area.

Scientists reasoned that given the right stimuli people could elect to rewire their brains voluntarily. Studies revealed that Buddhist monks could, for instance, increase their natural capacity for happiness simply through a particular form of meditation. The monks did not have to do anything as such. They just had to think in a certain way.

The ramifications of this are far reaching. Certainly it offers hope to the victims of brain damage. Early trials suggest that brain training techniques can also help those who suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, as well as those with depression. Destructive thought processes can be replaced with positive thinking habits.

The concept of mind over matter is an ancient one, but it would appear that conventional science now supports the idea that people can change their realities via positive thought processes. Neuro plasticity is a good thing for everybody. People need not accept the perceived limitations placed upon their abilities. It is never too late to start learning how to play the piano, or indeed to learn anything else.


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