One of the most common terms regarding the brain that tends to be misunderstood is neuroplasticity. The brain is an ever-changing organ made up of nerve cells and nerve fibers. It plays a vital role in each and every one of our daily functions – and this is where neuroplasticity comes in.
Neuroplasticity is defined as the ability of the brain to constantly evolve – to form and reorganize connections, especially in response to learning or experience, or following an injury. As the name alludes, neuroplasticity also refers to the brain’s ability to be continuously molded (like plastic) by behavior, environmental stimuli, thoughts and emotions throughout one’s life.
Neuroplasticity allows the brain to adapt and rewire itself as needed and as you grow from infancy to adulthood. The brain serves as your body’s processor – “it processes sensory and motor signals in parallel,” and it has numerous neural pathways that replicate one another’s function should error arise or should damage occur (Banks, 2016). With neuroplasticity, errors or damage can be corrected by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Our brains can be improved by employing healthy habits into our daily lives. Exercising your brain might seem intimidating, but “simply by cultivating healthy habits, we can change our brain for the better,” (Power of Positivity, 2019). Healthy brain habits include eating whole, healthy foods, staying properly hydrated, sleeping enough (and not too much!), physical activity, and exercising your brain. The best practices for exercising your brain include doing puzzles, drawing things straight from your memory (try your childhood home or your favorite meal!), and learning a new skill.
There are numerous ways you can exercise your brain to maximize its neuroplasticity. Staying diligent about your brain’s health is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. For many years, the brain was believed to have fixed cognitive ability and intelligence, but fortunately, neuroscience research has shown that the brain can change, even in aging individuals, (Power of Positivity, 2019). So, go ahead and add another resolution to your 2020 list – to invest more in your brain’s health and harness the power of neuroplasticity.
Banks, D. (2016, April 12). What Is Brain Plasticity and Why Is It So Important?: SciTech Connect. Retrieved January 16, 2020, from http://scitechconnect.elsevier.com/what-is-brain-plasticity-why-so-important/
Michelon, P. (2018, April 9). Brain Plasticity: How learning changes your brain. Retrieved January 16, 2020, from https://sharpbrains.com/blog/2008/02/26/brain-plasticity-how-learning-changes-your-brain/
Power of Positivity. (2019, September 28). Researchers Explain 5 Habits That Can Damage Your Brain. Retrieved January 16, 2020, from https://www.powerofpositivity.com/habits-that-damage-brain/