CogniFit's Science blog: Do You Know What Brain Plasticity Is?

Do You Know What Brain Plasticity Is?

You may not have heard of brain plasticity before but you should recognize that it is an essential part of how the brain retains new information and develops. It is a mechanism which physically changes the brain in response to certain stimuli. We will explore this further so you better understand your brain.

The brain communicates information and processes it through neural networks. When a baby is born, he/she has largely undeveloped neural networks. But as the child is exposed to new things and must learn to process the information, the brain responds by changing physically and creating new neural networks.

As these networks proliferate, the information is formed on a more permanent basis. So brain plasticity is an essential way in which children can learn new information and keep it available for later use. This is certainly a very essential way in which people learn and develop.

As people age and don’t challenge their brains to new things as often, the neural networks can begin to break down. This is why some people begin to show sign of memory loss or exhibit some degradation in mental processes. However it has been shown that this does not necessarily have to occur like this. It is often very possible to continue to challenge the brain and cause the formation of new neural networks.

So not only it can it shore up the existing networks but it can allow the brain to further develop its capabilities. Another very interesting part of brain plasticity involves stimulating different parts of the brain to handle tasks or functions which it otherwise would not perform. For example if someone suffers some type of brain injury, different functions may be affected.

They may be unable to talk, walk or suffer memory problems. However there are techniques which can be employed to train other parts of the brain which are undamaged to take over the functions which were affected by the injury.

So a person may be able to regain functions and capabilities which were previously lost as a result of the injury. It may be a slow and difficult process but the mechanism of brain plasticity may allow this to occur. Some of the techniques involve physical therapy to help to teach the brain how to move muscles and achieve better posture and balance.

Other techniques can help with higher level cognitive functions. There is great information on brain plasticity available on many sites on the Internet so you are encouraged to investigate this further.