Neuroplascity

Neuroplasticity is the secret to our success on this earth. Other animals are stronger, faster, more dangerous, can see/smell and hear better, etc yet we humans have dominated the earth.

What does neuroplasticity mean? Simply the ability of our nervous system to adapt. This extraordinary ability has enabled us to live in all corners of the earth. What other complex creature do you know which can claim the same feat?

From an evolutionary perspective it gives us the edge, because our wiring [of our nervous system] modifies with each year and varies greatly with each generation. Thus we are evolving weekly without having to wait for the rare occurrence of gene mutations. Other species like insects work on the basis of numbers. Their life spans are short and their families large. Therefore they will go through a thousand or more generations for every one of ours. However they are relying on a gene mutation to occur somewhere along the linage which gives them an edge. But if that mutation does not occur then they change very little. Hence why the common flies behaviour has changed very little since humans have evolved from cooking on an open fire to landing on a moving comet!

So how does neuroplasticity work? Well it essentially means that there is no stringent plan for the wiring of our brain and body. The complexity and number of nerve cells {i.e. Billions – trillions} means that there are hundreds of ways to perform a given task. This is why we see stroke patients recover their ability to walk or use their left arm to open a door. The original path has been permanently damaged however with time, practice and the right rehabilitation they are able to rewire a new pathway which performs exactly the same outcome.

This process of rewiring applies to all aspects of our lives. If you more from a hot climate to a cold, after a few months the rewiring of your temperature control will change, the metabolism rate and absorption rate of your food will alter, etc. Thus giving you the greatest chance of survival in that altered climate. In a negative sense this also applies. It our emotions (e.g. fear, depression, anxiousness) forces us to limit our exposure, our bodies will start to break down those learn pathways because they are not being used and thus a waste of valuable energy to keep them functional. This then makes it harder to do those activities (whatever they are) because our wiring has changed. However, these activities can be wired again but that takes the courage to return to those ceased activities. .

The conclusion to this article is a positive one, we have the greatest gift in the world; our ability to adapt and learn. The more we use it, the greater we and our next generations become.