The human brain contains about 100 billion nerve cells – neurons. Since every nerve cell has at least 1000 synapses, we come to the astonishing number that the human brain generates at least 1000 trillion connections.
Creating brain circles is an active process that takes place with experience and under the influence of the environment. Connections we use are strengthened and become permanent, and those we don’t use are weak and degrade over time.
Everything we see, hear, feel, taste and smell shape our brain circles.
The question that is being asked is whether the adult brain can be altered? Does it have an attribute of neuroplasticity inherent in the age of childhood?
Neuroplasticity is the ability of nerve cells to create new connections and new brain functions. It is the ability of the brain to change and adapt itself through life.
It was proved for the first time in the seventies on the primates, and later on humans who suffered a stroke and whose brain was altered by itself.
Violinist Martha Curtis suffered from seizures. The large part of the right temporal lobe of her brain had to be surgically removed. After such a procedure, a person may stay paralyzed or even die. However, neuroplasticity has allowed Martha’s brain to adapt to damage, recover and continue musical processes in other parts of the brain.
You can see Martha Curtis in this video:
The girl Alexandria Moody had severe damage of the entire left half of the brain. Doctors proposed removing the entire left hemisphere of her brain. At that time this was the best solution for children who had suffered from uncontrolled and life-threatening attacks.
After the surgery, the girl recovered, seizures stopped and she was able to live a “normal” life. The neuroplasticity of the brain allowed her to perform the tasks she would otherwise do.
Thus, one characteristic of neuroplasticity is that a certain brain activity associated with a certain function (movements, music …) can be transmitted to another part of the brain. This is most commonly occurring when recovering from brain injury.
At these two girls, other parts of the brain and the creation of new connections have enabled them “normal functioning”.
At this time, it was believed only child’s brain has an attribute of neuroplasticity, but today it is known an adult brain can also adapt and be altered.
It is interesting that new neural connections are created not only by the influence of the environment but also by the influence of our behavior, thoughts and emotions. That’s why we often hear of importance to be active all the time and to learn something new to keep our brain’s agility.
Meditation has a strong influence on the density of gray matter in the brain and a positive effect on it.
Fitness and exercise also change the brain in a positive way.
If the human brain has an attribute of neuroplasticity, what does it mean for all of us?
That means we need to be aware of the fact that we can change the functioning of our brain.
That means we can change our thoughts and emotions if we are not happy with them or we have been negatively programmed in childhood or during life.
That means we can change our behavior that does not serve us and keep us in the place where we are.
That means we can improve some of the brain functions that are less developed.
Having the knowledge that our brain possesses the capacity of neuroplasticity means to have the BELIEF that we are not sentenced to status quo in any sense of the word.