How Life Experience Changes our Brain Plasticity

By Hana Frenette
NeuLine Health

Neuroplasticity, also referred to as brain plasticity, describes the brain’s biological, chemical and physical ability to adapt or change as a response to experiences. 

These brain changes include creating new neurological connections and reorganizing pathways in the brain, which promote long-lasting functional cognitive development. 

How and When Brain Plasticity Occurs

While neuroplasticity is an ongoing process throughout a person’s life, certain types of brain changes occur at specific ages. 

In a person’s first few years of life, their brain is constantly adapting, changing and reorganizing as the person learns their first language or new motor skills. Typically, younger brains are more adaptable or have more plasticity, but research shows adult brains are still capable of the same types of changes. 

Neuroplasticity occurs in the brain under two conditions—during normal brain development as a result of an experience, environmental stimulation, learning new information and new memory formation, or as a result of damage to the brain. 

Several studies have confirmed that new and or continuous experiences cause new neural pathways to strengthen, whereas neural pathways that are used infrequently will weaken and eventually die. This process is called synaptic pruning, and shines a new light on the age old phrase “use it or lose it.”

Benefits of Brain Plasticity 

The benefits of brain plasticity are bountiful and not only help promote continued learning and development, but can also aid in recovery after a traumatic brain injury. Plasticity can also help with:

  • Enhancing your existing cognitive capabilities
  • Promoting and elevating brain health
  • Aiding in the brain’s ability to process and manage trauma
  • Recovering from strokes
  • Strengthening areas of the brain if some functions are lost or decline with age

Improving Brain Plasticity 

There’s a range of activities you can try in order to boost brain plasticity:

  • Change your surroundings and go to a place you’ve never been to before— whether in your current city or a new vacation spot
  • Learn a new language
  • Create art or do a craft project— don’t be afraid to get messy, make mistakes or try something new
  • Learn how to use a new musical instrument or start regularly using one you’re familiar with
  • Take a long walk
  • Read a book you’ve never read before
  • Prioritize your sleep— while sleeping doesn’t result in brain plasticity on its own, proper rest encourages neuron health and strong neurological connections, which in turn aids in plasticity!

Resources:

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