Monday, June 29, 2015

Guest Blog: Neuroplasticity: Can the brain can rewire itself?

Guest Blog:

Scientists in the past once believed that when a person reaches adulthood, their cognitive abilities became fixed and that injury to the brain was permanent. But beginning in the early twentieth century, that theory has been contested by evidence suggesting that the brains abilities are in fact malleable and plastic.

According to this principle and term; Neuroplasticity, the brain is constantly changing in response to various stimuli and experiences. New behaviors, new habits, new learnings, and even environmental changes or physical injuries may all stimulate the brain to create a new pathway or reorganize existing ones. This appears to be fundamentally altering how information is processed and used in the future.

I am a big fan of the online brain training company called Lumosity. This technology teaches the brain how to create stronger neural connections to keep the brain healthy. The premise is nerves that fire together are wired together .In a recent blog
Neuroplasticity was explained in relation to habit patterns and brain size and function.

Lumosity information:
Mapping changes in taxi driversbrains
One of the most dramatic and early examples of Neuroplasticity comes from a 2000 brain scan study on London taxi drivers (Maguire et al., 2000). In order to earn a license, London taxi drivers typically spend about two years learning to navigate the citys serpentine streets. The studys researchers wondered what mark this long, rigorous period of training had left on taxi driversbrains.

Under the scrutiny of functional MRI scans, 16 male taxi drivers were revealed to have larger hippocampuses than a control group of 50 healthy males. And the longer the time spent as a taxi driver, the larger the hippocampus tended to be. As a brain area involved in memory and navigation, the hippocampus seemed to have changed in response to the taxi driversexperiences.

Most instances of Neuroplasticity-based changes in the brain are much more subtle. But in recent decades, its cases like that of the London taxi drivers that have inspired members of the scientific community to pursue the next logical step in research: rather than passively waiting to see how the brain might respond to circumstances, is it possible to direct that capacity for change, targeting improvements in specific abilities?

The Science of Cognitive Training:

The science of cognitive training seeks to answer the above mentioned question. In 2013 alone, 30 cognitive training studies were registered on the government database Lumosity scientists, with the help of outside collaborators, contribute to this research effort: so far, 7 peer reviewed studies have been published using Lumosity as a cognitive training tool for diverse populations, including healthy adults, cancer survivors, elderly people, and children with a genetic disorder.

Better Brain Tip:

·       Don't get stuck in a rut, do something different every day!
·       Sign up for Lumosity's free brain training program and take a test drive-
·       Take a different route to work so you have to Think about your directions.
·       Prepare and Eat a different vegetable than you are used to eating regularly
·       Perform a different Movement or exercise to challenge new nerve pathways
·       and muscles

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