Neuroplasticity is one of science’s most simple yet significant concepts. Decades of research has shown us that the brain forms and reorganises synaptic connections in response to learning or injury. This finding indicates that we are capable of learning throughout our lives and that our brain development does not stop once we reach adulthood, as previously believed.
Neuroplasticity works at two levels: structural plasticity involves changes in the brain’s physical structure in response to learning or the formation of memories; functional plasticity refers to the brain’s ability to adapt to brain injury by transferring all or part of the functions performed by a damaged region to a different area. Changes in the brain occur mainly between the connections of nerve cells, known as neurons.
The Role Of Neurons
Neurons are specialised cells that send information throughout the body. Each is connected to around a thousand others, creating an incredibly intricate network of communication. If a neuron receives a large number of inputs from those it is connected to, it exceeds a particular threshold, becoming electrically charged and signalling other neurons.
Although nerve cells are connected to one another, they do not physically touch. The gaps between neurons are known as synapses. Here, electric signals or chemicals known as neurotransmitters are released to transfer information to the next cell. The more synapses are used, the stronger neural pathways become, however, if they do not remain active, our brains dispose of the connections in a process known as synaptic pruning.
Neuroplasticity Following Injury
When the brain experiences injury, our functions, such as concentration or speech, may become impaired. Through spontaneous recovery, it is theorised that cortical reorganisation allows the brain to recruit new areas to carry out the same functions that were affected by tissue loss or damage. For example, if the left-sided language area was injured, a right-sided equivalent may be developed.
Therapy, involving neuromuscular activity and targeted exercises, can promote neuroplasticity in the affected neural network. With guided memory challenges, motor skills training, or multi-step problem solving, the brain is able to restore connections.
How Can I Benefit From Neuroplasticity?
You don’t have to have suffered an injury to rewire your brain. Neuroplasticity allows us to reshape our brains at any age, meaning that we are all capable of learning new skills. A now-famous study carried out by Eleanor McGuire and colleagues, revealed structural differences between the brains of taxi drivers and control subjects. A brain region involved in spatial navigation and the consolidation of information from short-term to long-term memory, known as the hippocampus, was found to be enlarged in taxi drivers. This is a clear demonstration of how the brain adapts to learning and experience.
The plastic nature of the brain and its extraordinary ability to discard and create neural pathways, gives us scope to change any aspect of our brain function. This includes thoughts and beliefs that shape the way in which we view the world, commonly known as ‘mindset’. With the right guidance and daily exercises, we are able to take authority over our thought patterns and replace negativity with optimism.
Dr. Jan’s BrainTuning® System
If you want to make a change to your outlook on life, your ability to achieve your goals, or your general level of happiness, coaching with Dr. Jan is a good place to start. His 5-Step BrainTuning® System allows you to systematically rewire your brain by achieving conscious awareness through structured thought exercises.
During weekly one-to-one sessions, you will broaden your self-understanding and learn to identify the automatisms within your mind that cause you to think irrationally and behave poorly. By increasing your awareness of your existing mindset, you are better able to replace negative thought patterns with positive alternatives. Through the process of neuroplasticity, new neural connections will eventually strengthen this optimistic way of thinking.
Book A Discovery Call
To discover more about Dr. Jan’s 5-Step BrainTuning® System, book a Discovery Call with the man behind the concept. During your complimentary 20-minute call, Dr. Jan will explain the process of mindset training and gain insight into your current outlook. Together, you can discuss a plan for future sessions, ultimately resulting in your future happiness.