Neuroplasticity is basically called brain plasticity, the ability of the brain where it adapts or changes to different conditions and emotions. The neurons and nerve systems in the different parts of our body are attached to the brain. They are attached like string or web. If you feel any change in your body that is only because the nervous system changes to the experience. Neuro refers to neurons, the nerve cells that are the building blocks of the brain and nervous system, and plasticity refers to the brain’s malleability.
“Neurons that fire together wire together.”Donald O. Hebb
The brain adapts/stores information through the nervous system interconnected to neuro cells in our body. The information can be new to us and our brain is constantly adapting that information through changes in the nervous system. The nervous system isn’t set to stone which we may think but that is not the case, in fact, it is plastic.
Our brains renew themselves throughout life to an extent previously thought not possible.
In our life, we continue to learn a new set of information in our class, in our home. those set of information is stored as memories in our brain. the brain receives several pieces of information even within a second and then processes them. like I can say, we in our childhood learn different pieces of information such as alphabets, numbers,etc. store them, process them, and use them as a big set of information.
Not only humans but animals have their brains altered. They also have adaptive changes to new information, sensory stimulation, development, damage, or dysfunction. It was back in 1923, Karl Lashley conducted experiments on rhesus monkeys that demonstrated changes in neuronal pathways, which he concluded were evidence of plasticity.
Michael Merzenich is a neuroscientist who has been one of the pioneers of neuroplasticity for over three decades. He has made some of “the most ambitious claims for the field – that brain exercises may be as useful as drugs to treat diseases as severe as schizophrenia – that plasticity exists from cradle to the grave, and that radical improvements in cognitive functioning – how we learn, think, perceive, and remember are possible even in the elderly. Merzenich’s work was affected by a crucial discovery made by David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel in their work with kittens. The experiment involved sewing one eye shut and recording the cortical brain maps. Hubel and Wiesel saw that the portion of the kitten’s brain associated with the shut-eye was not idle, as expected. Instead, it processed visual information from the open eye. It was “…as though the brain didn’t want to waste any ‘cortical real estate’ and had found a way to rewire itself. So you see, the brain has the ability to adapt to different conditions.
Change is the only constant.
Do you realize or know that young children do learn a second language much more quickly and easily than adults. Because of the brain’s elasticity and rapid neural formation, babies and young children can learn languages at a faster rate. This is sometimes referred to as the “critical period”.This implied neuroplasticity during the critical period. However, Merzenich argued that neuroplasticity could occur beyond the critical period. His first encounter with adult plasticity came when he was engaged in a postdoctoral study with Clinton Woosley. From the discovery of neuroplasticity till now, scientists have studied the brain’s function and structure so well. The study of the brain is called Neurology and Neuroplasticity is the property of that study about how the brain develops and reacts to changes. Scientists have figured out why most of us sleep at night or When the weather changes across the year, Nature changes to it. We change ourselves. If you know what I mean.
If you wanna change your bad habits or learn a new skill, try doing the same thing for 21 days and you will change yourself or learn something. You might have heard that and it’s true and is a case of our neuron cells changing to new information.
In the 21st century, the study related to the brain has been vast. Scientists think if they can study more properties of the brain. Elon Musk, founder of neuralink thinks that he and his team can record the memories of humans and animals. In Japan, they say they could record the dream on a device and play it like a video. Recently, they are testing and still trying to figure out when they can be used by humans. Will that be the future of the human brain? Who knows?; What do you think? but one thing is for sure. The best discovery is yet to come.
Also read: Embracing your emotion: mental health