All posts by HaveAGreatDay

Neuroplasticity: can you rewire your brain?

The ‘Freedom to BE’ program  is the Lazy Skunk way to rewire your brain – without the need to go into the story

Neuroplasticity: can you rewire your brain? – ABC Active Memory: Brain Training News    Neuroplasticity is more than just the latest brain-related buzzword. It’s a real concept, grounded in neuroscience research. We take a look at how neuroplasticity works, and consider how it’s possible to re-wire your brain – regardless of your age.

What does the word neuroplasticity actually mean?

Neuroplasticity is an umbrella term, commonly used to mean that the brain and nervous system is plastic (or malleable), and can be remodelled or ‘re-wired’ in response to experiences over a lifetime.

Your brain is made up of 100 billion or so neurons each making up to 10,000 connections, or synapses, with other neurons. Neurons communicate by sending chemical signals across the synapse, with neurotransmitter release determined by patterns of neural impulses.

Neural impulses code your thoughts, actions and experiences. But they’re not simply transmitted along hard-wired pathways in the brain; the same thoughts, actions and experiences continually reorganise the structure and function of pathways enabling your brain to respond efficiently and effectively to the world around you.

Because neuroplasticity research encompasses diverse fields including learning and memory, synaptic physiology, stem cell research, brain injury, psychotherapy, pharmacology, development and ageing, the way the term is used will differ depending on which neuroscientist you speak to, or whose book you read.

How do experiences rewire the brain?

Imagine you’ve started violin lessons. This intense learning experience requires a host of sensory, cognitive, and motor skills including reading music, translating it into sequential movements that in turn depend on auditory feedback, developing fine motor skills coupled with precise timing, memorising long musical passages, and so on. Research shows that musical training can result in neuroplasticity at many levels in the brain. 

When you first pick up the violin, you’re clumsy and make many mistakes. But within a few days of focussed practice, neural circuits in the part of your brain devoted to fingering the strings for example, will begin to fire repeatedly. The more often neurons the specific circuit fire, the stronger the synaptic connections become. This is the basis of the adage ‘neurons that fire together, wire together’. Researchers have documented in detail the electrical, chemical and structural changes that take place at synapses to amplify connection strength during learning.

With continued daily violin practice, you’ll become more proficient. Neurons in the circuits involved in recognising musical tones, for example, will begin proliferating their dendrites (the branched extensions that receive inputs) and extending their axons, interconnecting more distant neurons into rich, well-organised neural networks. Accompanying these brain changes will be more nimble playing, less mistakes and more enjoyment!

Over the course of a many years, you may become a virtuoso. A study of your brain will reveal an enlarged cortical ‘map’ of the fingers of the hand that you’ve used for the complex task of fingering the strings, while your opposite hand, which has the less dexterity-demanding task of bowing the strings, does not show an altered map. An imaging study of your brain will show greater grey matter volume in the auditory region of your cortex. Psychological testing will reveal your spatial, verbal, and mathematical performance, and your general IQ will be higher than non-musicians. And as you age, your brain will be less susceptible to age-related degeneration.

Neuroplasticity over the course of life.

Training induced plasticity (such as violin lessons) is not restricted to childhood. But what differs as a function of age is the ease at which plasticity occurs.  “During early childhood the plasticity switch is always ‘ON’, whereas in adults it’s usually ‘OFF’” explains Michael Merzenich, PhD, Emeritus Professor at the Keck Center for Integrative Neurosciences at the University of California.

Plasticity dials back ‘ON’ in adulthood when specific conditions that enable or trigger plasticity are met. “What recent research has shown is that under the right circumstances, the power of brain plasticity can help adults minds grow. Although certain brain machinery tends to decline with age, there are steps people can take to tap into plasticity and reinvigorate that machinery,” explains Merzenich. These circumstances include focused attention, determination, hard work and maintaining overall brain health.

Professor Tony Hannan, head of the Neural Plasticity group at the Florey Institute in Melbourne, agrees. “Discoveries in the field of neuroplasticity have implications for how each of us may protect our brain from the relentless weathering of ageing and disease. It’s known that lifestyle factors that are good for the body, such as regular physical exercise and a healthy diet, are also beneficial for the brain. And those who keep their brains stimulated with regular complex mental activities may also help delay onset of common brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia”.

Neuroplasticity: can you rewire your brain? – ABC Active Memory: Brain Training News   

 Dr Sarah McKay is an Oxford-educated neuroscientist and science writer. She specialises in communicating neuroscience research in everyday language, and writes a brain and health blog.



Beyond 70 and still reaching for the Stars

Its never to late for DreamsSociety tends to label us according to our age.  We are told that at 18 you are now an adult.  We are told that when we reach 60 we are already winding down and getting ready to move into retirement mode.  Therefore when I reached 70 years it had come with a bit of anxiety that life was incredibly short and that I probably didn’t have many years left on this planet … and yet at the same time I was project managing a new build, doing all the painting inside and out, laying payers, creating gardens, building retaining walls and working like a trogon.  The two parts of me were at odds with each other.  Our conditioning was telling me that I was old and the real me was thinking I feel no different than I did when I was 20 or 50 I still wanted to achieve a successful business.  I still wanted to make a difference in this world.  I still wanted all the juicy aspects of life … in fact I just plain wanted to live brilliantly …

We are what we feel, what our mindset is and how we approach life in general.  There are days I want to shout to the world I AM ALIVE, see me ROAR  and I do 🙂 much to the amazement and perhaps annoyance of my immediate neighbours.  Do I care NO I just want to dance and sing at the top of my voice … so I do.

Indeed like many I have been through my own challenges – some doozies, where my life has been turned upside down. The absolute love of my life walked out of our 18 year marriage without a word, just a letter in the mail telling me our marriage was over and it was not negotiable (his words). To reaching an absolute high in my business and coming home and walking into the most horrendous 2 -1/2 years of intense bizarre bullying.  All due to someone trying to take my elderly (dementia ridden)  neighbour’s home and her money and I was trying to protect her.   I had never experienced such evil intent before, so it was a real challenging learning curve with huge deep healing that needed to occur for me to sell and move from that area at a time when the market was very slow and prices very deflated. At the completion of my healing,  I sold my home in .15 minutes with it not even listed on the market.

I move to the Sunshine coast and began building a new home.  My sweetest moment was my son telling me about his conversation with his father.  “I am helping mum move this weekend.”  Oh is she going into a retirement home (ex) …. ‘Oh NO! Dad she is building a new home.”  Love my son to bits.

Was it easy building a new home when the building industry deems a women on her own is fair game, let alone one who is in her late 60’s … and then building a Goddess Accommodation beside the existing home when she was 70 and not only having it built but actively participating in many aspects of the construction and building – it certainly raised a few eyebrows.  And yes they tried it on, but as I said I have developed a can do attitude to what I can achieve and I go for it – and I wasn’t above telling them to F###K off if they were negative and wouldn’t bring positive solutions to the table.

What I achieved with a secondary building on the same title, has never been done before here, so not only did I need to believe I could do it,  I had to prove (via a lot of research) that it could be done and then find trades who understood it could be done.

The point is that it doesn’t matter what chronological age you are – it is all about your mindset.  I fully intend living my highest potential (and encouraging others to do the same).  Imagine the combined power of HEART-WISDOM that mature people have – what could be achieved to transform our world.  A world who valued the older generation for their vast life experience – you cant buy that shit.  It is golden.

(c) 2016 Jan-Marie Brooke

Brilliant Life