Can you train an old brain new tricks? Research around neuroplasticity and neurogenesis is revealing how the brain learns, remembers, repeats and grows.
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change its structural and functional organization.
- Learning occurs when new information causes synapses to change.
Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factors (BDNF) influence neuron rerganization and growth, important for learning. How can you influence your brain to produce BDFN?
- Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon.
- Physical exercise.
- Intermittent fasting and caloric restrictions.
Neuogenesis is the process of development and growth of neurons.
- Evidence suggests neurons are created during early developmental stages but rates of neurogenesis fall to undetectable levels in adults.
Anatomy of the Brain
- Hippocampus – short-term, log-term and spatial memory.
- Cerebellum – Vision and learning motor-skills.
- Basal Ganglia – Where habits form.
- Prefrontal Cortex – Regulates complex congentive, emotional, and behavioral functioning.
- Occipital lobe – Responsible for processing visual information.
Neurons that fire together, wire together!
LEARN VISUALLY – The Visual Cortex in the occipital lobe is where about 10% of the synapses are continuously regenerated.
FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS – Stimulating neurons in a rapid series of action over a short time resulted in the growth of new synaptic connections.
REPEAT – Practice and repetition promote long term potentiation where signal between the presynaptic and postsynaptic neurons is strengthend.
REMEMBER – Information passes through the short-term memory of the prefrontal cortex several times to the hippocampus, becoming long-term memories.
TIMING – Most people learn most productively in the late morning between 9 and 10 am.
How to Change Your Habits
Habits are encoded in the basal ganglia which is deeply ingrained in the brain’s structure, we execute them seemingly without thought.
Identify Your Habit Loop
- The Cue – What is your trigger?
- The Routine – What is your behavior?
- The Reward – What are the benefits?
Breaking Your Habit Loop: Replace the Routine.
By isolating the cue and experimenting with rewards you can change your habit. Scientists can modify the infralimbic cortex therefore changing habits, but ultimately the habitual memory remains and can easily relapse.
Tips to Strengthen Your Brain
Solve a puzzle – Strategy based cognitive training showed an increase in cognitive function.
read a novel – Subjects in a reading study showed significant increases in connectivity which therefore persisted for several days after finishing a novel.
Workout – Acute bouts of exercise have been found to facilitate neuroplasticity in the motor cortex, which however is the region responsible for motor neurons and movements.
Get some sleep – After learning sleep has been found to facilitate the passage of information across synapses.
Learn a new language – The regions of the brain responsible for naming conventions, word recognition and even various languages include multiple areas of high activity.
As a result you have now learned about the brain and where the bad habits come from. If you enjoyed this article make sure you share it. Want to read more cool articles like How to Retrain the Brain? Check out Starkfeed’s Lifestyle and Science sections.