Change Your Brain
We can change our brain. We are electrochemical beings, with specific chemicals that, when stimulated, combine with electrical impulses in our brain to either rewire the connections we have (known as neuroplasticity) or to grow new neuronal tissue (known as neurogenesis).
Neurogenesis (Growing your brain)
One of the major chemicals that is needed for healthy brain function is BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor), which not only prevents death of existing brain cells, but is key to inducing the growth of new neurons and synapses.
Low levels of BDNF have been linked to Alzheimer’s, accelerated ageing, poor neural development, neurotransmitter dysfunction, obesity, depression, and even schizophrenia, and maintaining satisfactory levels results in optimal neurotransmission and potentially prevents a myriad of problems.
We can build new brain all of our lives in certain circumstances that stimulate the needed electro-chemical activity. This App can help you explore the major ways exercise, novelty, sleep, diet, and the various aspects of direct interaction do that.
Neuroplasticity (Rewiring your brain)
The brain keeps developing until your mid 20’s, ‘cooking’ from the back to the front, with the pre-frontal cortex developing last (why we don’t think through consequences or make executive decisions as well until then). All behaviours and experiences we have up until our mid 20’s potentially impact the developing brain. We now know that our brain keeps on being rewired by the way we interact with the environment for our whole lives. Through focusing and paying attention, our brain can increase or reallocate the function of one area if it is required, sometimes termed “what fires together wires together”.
We can do this actively such as changing our behaviour to break a habit (habits are patterns the brain has stored as automatic reactions to a situation or stimulus). We can also create new habits over time without being aware, such as using a certain hand to brush our teeth, write, or open a jar.
One way to keep your brain active is to stimulate willpower which is like a muscle – the more you use it the stronger it gets (e.g. regularly practice using your other hand one activity at a time). Through paying attention and using willpower, we can enable our brain to make more effort when needed to solve problems, remember and learn.