Neuroplasticity is the amazing power of the brain to change itself. Up until recently, it was thought that the brain was ‘hardwired’, unable to change. It is now well known that this is not the case. The brain is constantly reacting and adapting to the way we use it; the thoughts we think, the things we do and the experiences we have. It is growing new brain cells and forming new connections between cells with everything that we do.
These processes continue all throughout our lives, well beyond the end of childhood as was previously thought. In fact, the brain continues to evolve and change well into later life. The way we use our brain really does shape it. And we can use this incredible feature of the human body to our advantage. In fact, it has wonderful implications for a lot of things.
Everyone can implement neuroplasticity in their day to day lives by doing really simple things. The thing that is so beautiful about it, is that everyone has access to it. And by doing so, can live a happier and healthier life.
Our brains are constantly growing new brain cells. In fact, on average, our brains are growing 5000 new brain cells each day! This is incredible, given that it has been taught for over 100 years that the adult brain doesn’t grow new brain cells. This process is called ‘neurogenesis’, and it’s one of the biggest revolutions in neuroscience.
Another change that happens continuously, as part of neuroplasticity, is that our brains grow new connections between cells. There are about 100 billion neurons, or brain cells, in our brains, but even more connections. Each brain cell has up to 10 000 connections with other cells. So in total, we all have about 1000 TRILLION connections in our brains!
These are constantly reforming and new connections are being made, based on what we do. In fact, by changing the way we use our brains, we can even increase the number of connections in some parts of the brain by 200-300%! This is important, because some neuroscientists believe that our thoughts and consciousness exist in the connections between cells, rather than in the cells themselves. The connections are called ‘synapses’, and as such creating new ones, is called ‘synaptogenesis’.
Both of these processes, neurogenesis and synaptogenesis, form just part of the whole cascade of events that make up neuroplasticity. They happen automatically on a day to day basis, but what is even more extraordinary is that we can accelerate these processes with more positive and healthy use of our brains. Head to our Strategies pages to find out how!