It has been quite a while since I posted a new blog, and I’ve been scratching my head wondering how summer went by so quickly! Given all the new learning we are gearing up for this fall, I’m sharing a few resources with you on brain development. Neuroplasticity is a quite a buzz word these days and there are a lot of compelling reasons why. The term refers to the capacity of the brain to make structural and functional changes as a result of our experiences, thinking and emotions. When I was in school, we learned that brain development ceased once we reached adulthood. It can feel a bit disheartening to believe that you’ve missed the window on brain development!
Thankfully, research in the last 15-20 years have shown this to be untrue. While we experience dramatic changes in brain development within the first 20-25 years of life, we continue to have the capacity grow and change our brains throughout life. That has far-reaching implications regarding learning and behavior modification as well as in treatment of brain-based diseases. The old adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” simply is not true. Whew, what a relief!
In self-directed neuroplasticity (a term coined by neuroplasticity expert Dr. Jeffrey Swartz) you harness the power of neuroplasticity with your own goal-oriented behavior to purposefully shape brain development. You can choose to make healthy and adaptive choices, knowing that these choices impact your brain functioning and can lead to development of healthier ways of thinking, behaving and responding to your environment. If you have ever been successful in changing a bad habit, you know that while it is initially very difficult to do, it is possible with practice and perseverance.
I’m including a link to one of my favorite videos on neuroplasticity by SENTIS. It’s a great explanation of how neuroplasticity works and it’s an appropriate length and level for kids to watch, too.