Your Elastic Brain
Can a new science show us how to fix our brains? How we can learn more than we think?
Can the effects of a poor education be put right?
Can stroke victims learn how to move, how to remember, how to regain the use of “paralysed limbs?
The development of modern scans and super microscopes has made it possible to see what is really happening in the brain and we are learning some incredible things about it.
In fact, a lot of beliefs we have had for hundreds of years are being disproved and we are having to change what we can expect of our minds.
Let us look at two remarkable examples which have shocked the world of neuroscience.
London Cab Drivers Big Brains
London Cabbies have to learn the Knowledge which means for 2 to 3 years they work their way back and forth across London, learning the best way to get from point A to B. They have to be able to go from one point to another as directly as possible and quickly. Learning that knowledge physically enlarges the posterior hippocampus in their brains. In simple terms the brain has changed its physical shape as a result of learning new knowledge.
Since then, MRI and other new scans have proved that the brain can build new memory connections and physically adapt. This goes against the old concept of the brain losing cells as we age and our memories getting worse. Our brains are more plastic than we thought.
People who had learnt Braille were scanned to see which parts of the brain were working and the scientists were surprised to see that parts of the brain associated with vision were being used. This was in people who had always been blind.
The new discoveries mean we do not know exactly which parts of the brain will be used for specific tasks. The brain adapts in wonderful ways. The brain can adapt to different challenges in different ways. It is not fixed in one way of functioning.
Our brains can physically change and also use different parts to do different things. It is elastic and plastic. “Dr. Szwed said: “We are all capable of re-tuning our brains if we are prepared to put the work in,”.
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So, we are not stuck with how are brains are at the moment. We can change how our brains work. We can learn more and new things and even compensate for major problems we have.
N.L.P. experts have told us for 40 years that we can learn much more and change the way we think and what we believe in order to improve our lives. Now, in the last 10 years, the proof is coming out.
Changing The Brain
Now we know we can change our brains, how do we do it?
We change our brains by changing our behaviour, by doing something different and repeating it.
Is it really that easy? Well yes. In order to change what we do, we have to think about it, plan it and have an intention to do it.
Then we have to practice the new behaviour many times.
Using new parts of the brain gets that part “excited,” and that begins changes and development in the neural pathways. The more difficult the new behaviour is, the more the brain grows and builds new pathways to accommodate it.
There is no drug to replace practice. The more we practice the new behaviour, the stronger the new links are made in our brains. To quote Richard Branson: “Screw it and Do it!”
Everyone learns in slightly different ways so it is a good idea to think about how you learn best yourself. What kind of things do you find easy to learn? Then you can apply that model of how you learn and apply it to learning the new behaviours you have chosen.
How Do You Think?
Some people think in pictures, some in sounds and others in feelings. Often we use two of these strongly and one weakly. Remember something that happened to you yesterday and see how you remember it. Are there pictures? Can you remember what people said or the background sounds or perhaps you have strong feelings you associate with your memory?
Just remember that the more difficult the learning is, the more your brain changes to adapt. You need to practice more difficult things more often.
Brain’s Drug Factory
The brain causes the body to release chemicals which affect our levels of excitement, happiness and tiredness. It does this quite regularly and these spurts of drugs into our system help us to learn and remember things.
Bodybuilding The Brain
Just like keeping fit in a gym, or bodybuilding, we can keep our brains fit or even change their shape. We do this by learning and practicing, by stretching our abilities. Above all we can think more and remember more if we push our brains to do it more often.
Our brains can get excited and have new experiences and become stronger and more powerful. They are plastic. We call this “Neuroplasticity. You can train your brain to do more by reading by learning new things by Doing more with it.