Wednesday, July 17, 2019

What is brain plasticity and why does it matter?

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It’s been a while since scientists first noted that the brain is plastic. This doesn’t mean it’s made of plastic. Instead, neuroplasticity – or brain plasticity – is the ability of the complex organ to change throughout life. The central nervous system can adapt or change after some external stimulation, or the same principle used for restoring brain damaged areas and to heal from injury, according to neuroengineer Dr. Curtis Cripe.

Brain plasticity occurs at the beginning of life, a time when the young brain begins to organize itself. It also takes place during brain injury to compensate for lost functions or help remaining ones, and through your adult years whenever you learn or memorize something new. The scientific consensus is that the brain never stops changing via learning.

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Studies of neural connections also indicate that many damaged cells can lead to new connections based on a process known as synaptic reorganization, forming the basis for brain plasticity. Dr. Curtis Cripe noted that these concepts require the brain as well as the nervous system to be externally stimulated to make development or recovery – such as from trauma or addiction – to occur.

This emerges as a very important process in light of scientific findings that under the right circumstances, neuroplasticity can help an adult mind grow. While specific brain machinery can break down with age, people can still tap into plasticity and refresh this machinery. This can be done through targeted brain exercises as well as retraining the brain back to health at the onset of a cognitive condition such as schizophrenia and dementia.

Dr. Curtis Cripe is a neuroengineer with diverse multidisciplinary background that includes software development, bioengineering, addiction recovery, psychophysiology, psychology, brain injury, and child neurodevelopment. For similar reads, visit this page.