Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize neural pathways over time. It is a measurement of how resilient the brain is to the effects of aging, stress, injury, disease, and environmental factors, and how well the brain can hold onto new information.
A human’s ability to learn new things, remember new information, and form new neural connections is neuroplasticity. Find out more about how neuroplasticity works and the benefits you can get from it.
How Does Neuroplasticity Work?
Each time we learn something new – how to walk, a quote in a book, the way something smells – a neural connection is formed in the brain. A synapse is formed that allows a neurotransmitter to pass nerve impulses from one neuron to another.
The new connection in the brain helps us remember that information and recall it at a later date. This process happens rapidly during infancy and childhood as the brain is developing.
When injured, stressed, or going through the natural process of aging, the brain can reorganize these neural pathways to protect the body’s core functions.
After recovery, the return of those pathways and the ability to create new ones is a marker of neuroplasticity.
Until recently, it was thought that as we grow older neural pathways become fixed and we become unable to form new ones. As it turns out, this is far from true!
Our brains can reorganize existing connections and build new ones throughout the lifespan. Like a gardener pruning a tree, our brains regularly clear out weaker or unused synapses to make room for stronger more practical ones.
By stimulating and challenging the mind in different ways, neuroplasticity can be maximized by helping the brain retain and grow new neural pathways.
Benefits of Neuroplasticity
Neuroplasticity is a necessity for learning, growth, and development. Aside from the developmental importance of neuroplasticity, fascinating new research has shown that the brain’s ability to forge new pathways can help overcome traumatic events, anxiety, and stress.
You can use neuroplasticity to your advantage to help the prevention of diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Dementia. In day-to-day life, neuroplasticity is beneficial because it can be used to expand your mind and it can keep you feeling sharp and engaged. Training your brain is a great way to use neuroplasticity to help grow our brains and become smarter.
How to Boost Neuroplasticity?
Regular moderate to vigorous physical activity is one of the most effective ways to build new neural pathways in the brain. This is especially true of cardiovascular exercise. Regular social interaction has also been shown to preserve plasticity in the brain.
Good lifestyle habits such as not smoking and eating a healthy diet have been shown to help neural pathways in the brain flexible and functional. Some “brain-friendly” vitamins like Magnesium and Choline are thought to be particularly good for brain function. Make sure you get plenty of Omega-3’s and getting enough sleep is essential.
It allows your brain to go through its pruning process daily, clearing the way for new connections. Managing stress levels can also help keep your mind supple.
Learning is another way to support neuroplasticity. Try reading a book on an interesting new subject, or learning a new language.
If you want to use brain training to expand cognitive function. It’s important that you use the correct brain training methods to get the best results.
For an even bigger boost, try learning a new skill like playing an instrument or dancing. Even learning to cook something new can stimulate your brain in a positive way. Staying active, social, and curious will help your mind remain fit at every age.