If you are at a certain age with a few decades under your belt, one of the things that can drive you quite bonkers is trying to figure out how to master everything you need to know to maintain and protect your cognitive functions.
For example, recently Dr. Norman Doidge wrote a book, now a bestseller, called The Brain That Changes Itself. In this book Dr. Doidge popularizes the amazing concept of neuro-plasticity. "It is a plastic, living organ that can actually change its own structure and function, even into old age." Arguably the most important breakthrough in neuroscience since scientists first sketched out the brain's basic anatomy, this revolutionary discovery, called neuroplasticity, promises to overthrow The centuries-old notice that the adult brain is fixed and unchanging. "
All very interesting, but what does this mean? More importantly, how can you take advantage of it?
Well, get ready to celebrate, because I am about to reveal an explanation so simple it will answer your questions once and for all. And more than that, you will be able to take concrete action steps that will use neuroplasticity to your advantage.
Right now I'm looking at my blue Tupperware bowl. You can learn a couple of key points about plasticity from this bowl. But do not get me wrong. Tupperware and brains, on the whole, are vastly different!
Would you agree that this bowl has certain characteristics? It holds its shape and is quite durable. In its current form it does its job and holds a salad well.
One day, not so long ago, I accidently sat the bowl near the hot element on the stove for the exact amount of time to turn one side of the bowl into a clear window. I was amazed at how quickly it happened! But that is the nature of plasticity! Now I still have a salad bowl but it has a clear window on one side. The plastic nature of the material allowed it to continue to do its job, even in a different form.
The point of Dr. Doidge's investigation was to reveal that the brain is VERY changeable. If the brain is stimulated in exactly the right way, the brain is ready, willing, and able to reconcile itself to meet the challenge. If the brain is injured for some reason, the brain is ready, willing, and able to reconcile itself to meet this challenge too.
Would not it be great if the brain could change itself, for example, rerouting the wiring around a stroke to keep functions operational?
I'm interested in mending, enhancing and protecting the brain, as you are, so I surprised what the EXACT CIRCUMSTANCES are that stimulate the brain to use its plastic nature and make changes for the best.
After looking at some scientific research I collated a list of 17 actions that stimulate the brain. The NUMBER ONE BRAIN FITNESS ACTIVITY that is exactly right to stimulate the brain to use its plastic nature is NEW LEARNING. (The other 16 may you will not find so obvious.)
With this knowledge of the 17 specific actions that stimulate the brain to improve itself, IT'S NOW UP TO YOU TO TAKE ACTION. Look at the activities in your daily affairs. Analyze how much new learning you actually do each day. If new learning is rare, add more. That's what all those classes are for!
So take a deep breath. I really want you to get this: Working harder is NOT the solution to keeping your brain fit. Working smarter counts. Now that you know what neuroplasticity is, you will KNOW WHY ITS SMART TO INCLUDE as many of these17 actions in your daily life as possible. You will be on your way, easily taking the first steps to keep your brain fit.