Friday, January 23, 2009

BYBS: Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity refers to the brain's ability to "rewire" itself in response to training or experience. Up until recently, it was believed that the brain could not change very much after age 5 or so.

It has been known that the brain of a person who was, for example, born blind could change so that portions of the brain that typically were used for vision could instead be used for hearing. Hence the brain of a person born with blindness was physically different from a person with normal vision.

It has also been known that a person who becomes blind later on in life may also acquire more sensitive hearing, but it was thought that the corresponding physical changes to the brain did not occur.

Recent advances in brain imaging, however, indicate that the same basic changes in brain structure are possible in people all throughout life.

While such changes are possible in adults, they are much easier for children. A person who becomes unable to walk after suffering a stroke, for example, may have to work at learning to walk again for hours every day for months before regaining their old ability.

If a person can change something as basic as what part of the brain they use to walk with, then it must be possible and perhaps easier to change other, less fundamental things like behavior. If a blind person can use the "visual part" of their brain to hear, then is it easier for say a shy person to become more gregarious?

While the short answer is "yes," I will leave the rest for my next BYBS entry :-)

6 comments:

SandyCarlson said...

You have broadened my vocabulary and invited me to think of being flexible in new and delightful ways.

PERBS said...

Didn't God do a wonderful job when He created us?

CyberCelt said...

I suffered a neurological trauma when I was in my late teens. I had to learn how to write again. I could feel the connections being made.

The human body and brain is a wondrous work of art.

Tanis said...

Hey you,
Does that mean it's possible for a negative person to become more positive as time goes on?
Tanis

Blue Panther said...

This was an interesting and informative post...waiting for the rest of it!

PERBS said...

Missed a BYB post from you today!