Saturday, January 14, 2012

Understanding Neuroplasticity

Understanding Neuroplasticity
Change The Brain
Change The Mind
One of the concepts that I have begun to learn over the past few years, is just how much our brain and mind is wired through what we allow our self to consciously connect to in our life.  Neuroplasticity is all about how the neurons fire together and wire together.

The following video lecture of Rick Hanson, author of "Buddha's Brain" is on how neuroplasticity impacts our life through the firing and wiring of the neurons.  The following information I have written, is excerpts from this 7 minute video that explains a lot about neuroplasticity and the mind body connection.

Through the MRI and other research, we can see more clearly that as the brain changes, so does the mind.  In other words, what is fed into the brain, the mind focuses on in those moments.  The left part of the prefrontal cortex is responsible for controlling negative emotions.  The more it slows down the negative emotions, the more positive our thoughts become.

Chronic stress often increases the production of cortisol (the stress hormone) and it becomes like an acid bath that just eats away at the brain.  In people who have went through Chronic stress or even traumatic stress, researchers have found that there is a 25% reduction in the hippocampus.  The reduction in the hippocampus makes it more difficult for these people to form new memories and add positive thoughts into their life.  In essence, the brain changes and when that happens, the mind changes temporarily or also in lasting ways.

As the neurons fire together in patterns from the flow of information they are receiving in the nervous system, the neural structure of the brain is changed.  Busy regions of the brain get more blood supply and through that blood supply they develop and grow.  In addition, there is a greater expression of genes.  Take for instance that if you practice relaxation, this part of a gene will be exercised more and it will help the brain control the stress response and be more resilient in times of stress.  Busy regions of the brain help form neural synapses with each other and as a result, they get stronger, more sensitive and build out synapse networks.

Through the controlled use of your attention, you can practice self directed neuorplasticity.  This helps you rewire the neurons that fire together outside of normal awareness and consciousness.  If we focus on the rough spots in life, we will build that part of our brain and mind.  If we focus on the good things in life such as gratitude, then we will build that neuro structure in our brain.

Of course, in connection to the controlled use of our attention, when we connect to our physical body, we enhance and magnify the effects of self directed neuroplasticity.   Connected the mind and body together with this controlled use of our attention is a major spark in changing how neurons are wired together and how they fire together.

Related Blog Posts:
1)  Prefrontal Cortex Functions (Dec 24, 2010)

1)  Neuroplasticity - Rick Hanson (YouTube)

1)  Buddha's Brain by Rick Hanson (Amazon)

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