Neuroplasticity–Changing the Brain

By on October 4, 2016

 

The Brain Can Change Itself—Neuroplasticity

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For over four hundred years mainstream medicine and science believed that the brain anatomy was fixed.

The prevailing belief and wisdom was that after childhood the brain changed only when it began the long process of decline due to aging.

It was thought that when brain cells failed to develop properly, or were injured, or died, they could not be replaced.

It was felt no way could the brain alter its structure and find a new way tofunction if part of it was damaged.

The theory of the unchanging brain decreed that the people who were born with brain or mental limitations, or who sustained brain damage, would be limited or damaged for life.

Scientists, who wondered if the brain might be improved or preserved through physical activity or mental exercise, were told not to waste their time.

The brain was referred to as a “glorious machine”, and while machines can do many extraordinary things, they don’t change and grow. When patients did not progress psychologically or physiologically as much as hoped, often the conventional wisdom was that their problems were deeply “hardwired” into an unchangeable brain.

“Hardwiring” was another machine metaphor comparing the brain to computer hardware, with permanently connected circuits, each designed to perform a specific, unchangeable function.

I always found this very suspicious, and became more so when my therapy clients were showing continual progress in reacquiring physical skills when they had been told that this would not be possible.

For twenty-seven years and counting, I have trained, coached, and rehabbed many such people with excellent results—including myself.

I have always subscribed to the belief that if certain “parts” failed, then other parts could sometimes take over. The machine metaphor, of the brain as an organ with specialized parts, could not full account for changes we were seeing—and scientists were beginning to see the same.

In fact, they began to call this fundamental brain property “neuroplasticity”.

Neuro is for “neuron”, the nerve cells in our brain and nervous systems

Plastic is for “changeable, malleable, modifiable”.

Call it what you may, but my clients and I call it success!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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