The human brain has been made in such a way that it is capable of altering with experiences. Every experience it gathers can help it change the way it functions. This ability of the brain is known as brain plasticity. Dr. Curtis Cripe the managing director of the NTL group Inc in the United States, along with his colleagues has been learning about this phenomenon and therefore shares his insights on it.
Studies have revealed that this unique capacity of the brain helps face new challenges and learn new things during the lifetime of an individual. There are mainly two types of plasticity in the brain. They are neuroplasticity and cognitive plasticity. It is fascinating to know that the brain can shapeshift in a way. The ability of the brain to make changes in its structure and function accordingly is known as neuroplasticity. This happens throughout the life span of an individual, particularly when they are in the growing stages of life.
When the brain can learn new experiences and reactions, on the other hand, it is known as cognitive plasticity in medical terms. It learns new skills and rewires itself or so to say, makes new neural connections that help the body react according to those signals. This type of plasticity is said to be good for the healthy functioning of the brain.
Dr. Curtis Cripe who holds expertise in several disciplines including neurodevelopment, informs that though this ability of the brain is being studied to understand the phenomenon better; at a preliminary stage, it is safe to say that there are a few factors that influence this occurrence. They are primarily, the lifestyle of an individual, the environment they live in and the genes they have inherited.
Since this is a very helpful functionality of the brain, just like there is a need to do activities that help improve the condition of the muscles in the body, there is a need to employ ways to improve the health of the brain as well. There are a few ways in which this can be done as mentioned:
- Stimulation of cognitive abilities – just like some individuals function when they are faced with challenges, so does the brain. It needs new challenges to perform better and grow new neural connections. Attempting to solve puzzles or learning a new hobby put the brain through such challenges and helps it develop further.
- Physical activity – the blood flow to the brain is increased and thereby nourishes and protects the brain cells. New nerve cells are said to grow and thereby new connections as well.
- Nutrition – properly balanced diet is always the basis of a healthy lifestyle which includes the health of the brain
- Stress management– Dr. Curtis Cripe knows the bad effects of stress on the brain, therefore he recommends that when the brain is kept free of stress it is stimulated to grow.
Sleep – the most important factor to keep the brain functioning optimally by regenerating and repairing cells is giving it rest by sleeping well.