CogniFit's Science blog: What Is Brain Plasticity Or Neuroplasticity?

What Is Brain Plasticity Or Neuroplasticity?

Brain plasticity or neuroplasticity as it is also referred to is the brain’s ability to change for better or worse. It can occur at any age and it plays an important role in how the development of our brain helps to shape our own unique personalities.

Brain plasticity is a physical process. The grey matter which makes up our brains can shrink or thicken. In addition neural connections can change as well. For example each time we learn something new, our brains change. New neural pathways can be created and old ones severed.

So in this case we can learn a new song but then forget a person’s name. The changes in our brain are continuous and reflect new skills and other cognitive abilities.

It used to be that scientists believed that as children, the brain grew through the novelty of learning and exposure to new experiences. Then as we aged, the brain experienced cognitive decline which resulted in us becoming more forgetful and less inclined to seek new experiences. The feeling was that as people aged, they became more set in their ways.

But what modern research indicates is that the brain is always changing and its plasticity can enable people of all ages to adapt and grow in many ways. For example certain functions of the brain which were affected by damage to the brain can sometimes be overcome by relearning things and have them handled by other parts of the brain.

There are even ways for patients who suffer from a variety of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia can retrain their brains to overcome some of the symptoms. There are also many brain plasticity exercises which can be implemented to affect important long term changes in the brain.

The resiliency and plasticity of the brain is what allows us to develop. As said earlier, it can be how we learn and remember new tasks or forget old ones. We can also teach our brains to think differently and develop areas which were previously not as developed and refined.

Therefore we can use the brain plasticity to keep our minds fresh and alive and able to undertake new tasks. But we must always keep our minds challenged or occupied. New neural bonds can be established we must think in a different manner. Otherwise the same pathways will be used and that can lead to deterioration.

So challenge yourself always and remember that your brain is up to the challenge. It is good for you and your mind.