Brain Plasticity (Neuroplasticity)

brain plasticityWhat is neuroplasticity? This is the fundamental property of the brain. Neuro means “neuron”, the nerve cells in our brains in the nervous system. Plastic means “changeable, malleable, and modifiable.” We used to believe that the brain could not learn once it reached a certain level. The belief was that that the brain was localized, meaning certain parts of the brain dealt with only certain functioning aspects. Many scientists believed that certain brain areas were so specialized that one area of the brain could never do the work of another area of the brain. If a certain portion of the brain was damaged, then that portion of the brain will was dead with no ability for the brain to relearn.


We now know today that this is false; the brain is more global and holistic than once thought. That’s because of the understanding of “neuroplasticity”. The brain has the ability to perform a “workaround” of the damaged portion of the brain, giving the individual the ability to regain its functionality using a different part of the brain. In shorthand, neuroplasticity means rewiring of the brain.


Studies have shown that people are not always stuck with the mental abilities they are born with; that the damaged brain can often reorganize itself so that if one part fails, another can often substitute; that if brain cells die, they can at times be replaced; that many circuits and even basic reflexes that we think are hardwired, are not. (1)


The brain system is made up of more than 100 billion neurons that communicate in trillions of connections called “synapses”. These neuronal pathways, or neurons are connected to one another and working together. If certain key pathways are blocked, then the brain uses older pathways to go around the blocked pathways.


It is important to realize what goes on with the neurotransmitters and the plasticity nature of the brain. There are two things to remember about the brain and that is “what gets wired together, stays together” and “if you don’t use it, you lose it”. The good news is given the plasticity nature of the brain, it can be retrained (rewired) by way of the neurotransmitters through neurofeedback.


(1) “The Brain That Changes Itself” – Norman Doidge, M.D.