Current research reveals that the adult brain, in fact even the damaged adult brain, is capable of constructing new brain cells.
In an Salk Institute Press Release, researchers; studies revealed that, after exercise, mice revealed “larger and more mature neurons than their youthful counterparts, with thick forests of complex dendrites indistinguishable from other mature neurons.
From Neuroplasticity 101
“Previous beliefs about our brain and how it works have been proven false. Some beliefs that have been debunked include claims that adult brains can not create new neurons (shown to be false by Berkeley scientists Marian Diamond and Mark Rosenzweig, and Salk Institute’s Fred Gage), notions that working memory has a maximum limit of 6 or 7 items (debunked by Karolinska Institute’s Torkel Klingberg), and assumptions that the brain’s basic processes can not be reorganized by repeated practice (UCSF’s Drs. Paula Tallal and Michael Merzenich). The “mental muscles” we can train include attention, stress and emotional management, memory, visual/ spatial, auditory processes and language, motor coordination and executive functions like planning and problem-solving.
Mental stimulation is important if done in the right supportive and engaging environment. Stanford’s Robert Sapolsky has proven that chronic stress and cortical inhibition, which may be aggravated due to imposed mental stimulation, may prove counterproductive. Having the right motivation is essential.
A surprising and promising area of scientific inquiry is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). An increasing number of neuroscientists (such as University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Richard Davidson) are investigating the ability of trained meditators to develop and sustain attention and visualizations and to work positively with powerful emotional states and stress through the directed mental processes of meditation practices.”
A primer on how the brain changes and what parts change more readily
Steps to a Nimble Mind (Nov. 08)
The brain — containing 100 billion neurons, 900 billion glial cells, 100 trillion branches and 1,000 trillion receptors — reacts to stimuli in a series of electrical bursts, spanning a complex map of connections. Whether calculating an algorithmic equation or learning the tango, our brain continuously changes in response to our ideas, actions and activities.
Each time a dance step is learned, for instance, new pathways are formed …