Sunday, May 27, 2012

Is brain plasticity good or bad?


Good.  If you don’t have it, you should want it.

According to an article by Dr. Pascale Michelon on the SharpterBrains website, 

“Neuroplasticity or brain plasticity refers to the brain’s ability to CHANGE through­out life.” And in this case, Dr. Michelon is talking about change for the better.
In addition to genetic factors, the environment in which a person lives, as well as the actions of that per­son, play a role in plasticity.

Neuroplasticity occurs in the brain:
  • At the begin­ning of life: when the imma­ture brain orga­nizes itself.
  • In case of brain injury: to com­pen­sate for lost func­tions or max­i­mize remain­ing functions.
  • Through adulthood: whenever something new is learned and memorized.

So why is this a big deal?

Well, to begin with the article notes that:
“A sur­pris­ing con­se­quence of neu­ro­plas­tic­ity is that the brain activ­ity asso­ci­ated with a given func­tion can move to a dif­fer­ent loca­tion as a con­se­quence of nor­mal expe­ri­ence, brain dam­age or recovery. In his book “The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science, Norman Doidge describes numerous examples of functional shifts.

In one of them, a sur­geon in his 50s suf­fers a stroke. His left arm is par­a­lyzed. During his rehabilitation, his good arm and hand are immobilized, and he is set to cleaning tables. The task is at first impossible. Then slowly the bad arm remembers how to move. He learns to write again, to play tennis again: the functions of the brain areas killed in the stroke have transferred themselves to healthy regions.”


Would like to improve your neuroplasticity? Want to read more?  Here’s a link to the article:  http://www.sharpbrains.com/blog/2008/02/26/brain-plasticity-how-learning-changes-your-brain/
 
And here’s a Doidge’s book: http://www.amazon.com/The-Brain-That-Changes-Itself/dp/0143113100/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1338060843&sr=1-1

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