Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s natural ability to change and adapt at any age. These changes, which can be for better or worse, play an important role in the brain development and hence shaping our personalities. The notion debunks years’ old myth that the brain develops only during a critical period in early childhood and remains relatively unchanged thereon.
It is Neuroplasticity that allows the brain’s nerve cells to compensate for injury and disease. It is the basis of many clinically proven brain training exercises. Neuroplasticity is also known as brain plasticity, neural plasticity, and rewiring the brain.
Younger people’s brain changes easily as their brain plasticity is high. As an individual age, the brain loses some of its plasticity, which explains why elderly people become more rigid with the way they think, perceive and learn.
How does Neuroplasticity or Brain Plasticity work?
Our brains are shaped by life experiences. From the time the brain opens to development, the connections among the brain cells keep rearranging in response to our changing needs. This means, thoughts, emotions, behaviors and environmental stimulus have potential to cause neuroplastic changes, which has significant implications for learning, memory and recovering from brain damage.
With each new thought or emotion, the brain creates a new neural pathway. Similarly, with every repetition of the same thought or emotion, this neural pathway is reinforced. This justifies how new thoughts or emotions, when repeated frequently enough, can change brain structure and organization. Neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to change and adapt, can be harnessed for the modification of existing neural networks and the creation of new ones. This is why the notion is the basis for many cognitive and physical rehabilitation practices. As a tool of rehabilitation, it aims to rebuild connections among the patient’s nerve cells or neurons.