The old adage was “practice makes perfect – use it or lose it”. The 21st Century neuroscience version is “neurons that fire together, wire together – neurons that fire apart, wire apart”.

We need to educate everyone how to use their brain for their own benefit. We need to have lessons in schools that teach children how to like themselves and be mentally strong. Start from the earliest age asking children to focus on positive thoughts about themselves. Build up their self esteem early. Strengthen those positive neural pathways. Then, introduce critical thinking in all lessons to further develop their understanding of the world and everything in it.

There is a lot more scientific research being done on how our brains work. Psychology is a relatively new area of science and, even today, some would argue that it is not actually ‘science’. However, whatever our understanding, there are a variety of concepts within the umbrella term Psychology that deal with our emotions and the reasons we behave in the way we do. Does the way we behave affect the way we think or vice verse? Psychology also tries to help us understand how personality is formed via nature or nurture or a combination of both. Psychiatry, although similar to psychology in pursuit of understanding mental issues, requires a qualified practitioner of medicine and tends to use drugs to remedy most mental problems. So a psychiatrist is qualified to prescribe medicine whilst a psychologist is not.

Neuroplasticity may be defined as the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. It allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment.

Brain reorganization takes place by mechanisms such as “axonal sprouting” in which undamaged axons grow new nerve endings to reconnect neurons whose links were injured or severed. Undamaged axons can also sprout nerve endings and connect with other undamaged nerve cells, forming new neural pathways to accomplish a needed function.

For example, if one hemisphere of the brain is damaged, the intact hemisphere may take over some of its functions. The brain compensates for damage in effect by reorganizing and forming new connections between intact neurons. In order to reconnect, the neurons need to be stimulated through activity.

Neuroplasticity sometimes may also contribute to impairment. For example, people who are deaf may suffer from a continual ringing in their ears (tinnitus), the result of the rewiring of brain cells starved for sound. For neurons to form beneficial connections, they must be correctly stimulated.

Neuroplasticity is also called brain plasticity or brain malleability.

Medical Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACRPrivacy & Trust Info

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