Plastic fantastic

7 06 2013

Neuroplasticity: the incredible, flexible brain
Your brain has the innate ability to physically change itself when faced with new, challenging experiences. This ability is called neuroplasticity.

Your brain’s billions of neurons — its cellular building blocks — interact with each other in complex ways. Signals travel from one neuron to another down intricate neural pathways whose structures determine your thoughts, impulses, emotions, insights, and more.
82e286270dbd7d085204a944fe240ce7As our brains develop throughout childhood, these neural pathways change: less-used pathways are pruned away while pathways that you use regularly grow stronger. Every task you do relies on a different neural pathway.
Neuroplasticity is your brain’s ability to create new neural pathways and reshape existing ones, even as an adult. Your brain makes these small changes naturally throughout your lifetime. But when neuroplasticity’s potential is thoughtfully and methodically explored, this physical reorganization can make your brain faster and more efficient at performing all manner of tasks — no matter how large or small they may be.

A rich body of resarch on neuroplasticity
The principle of neuroplasticity suggests that anyone can improve their brain, no matter what their age or background. And a growing body of research adds more credence to this concept every day.

Recently, Dr. Florian Schmiedek from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development found that both younger people (in their 20s) and older adults (between 60-80) who completed working memory training showed far-reaching improvements in broad cognitive abilities (Schmiedek, et al., 2010). Working memory is your ability to efficiently hold and manipulate ideas in your head.
A study of over 2,000 elderly adults in 2002 suggests that even older brains have plenty of room to improve and learn (Ball, et al., 2002). After spending 10 hours over 8badc05312854ed310fbba54cb6ee6cathe course of six weeks, 87% of elderly participants who completed speed of processing training gained skills that transferred to real-world abilities: they self-reported experiencing less decline in their ability to perform basic daily activities.
And finally, Lumos Labs collaborated with Stanford and San Francisco State University researchers to publish a groundbreaking study showing that healthy adults benefit from web-based cognitive training (Hardy et al., 2011). Participants in this peer-reviewed controlled trial saw 20% improvements in visual attention and 10% improvements in working memory.

The body of evidence behind neuroplasticity and brain training is constantly growing.

Brain training has the potential to change lives
Neuroplasticity can have wide-ranging applications if properly and carefully explored. Researchers have used brain training to rehabilitate patients with brain trauma, chemofog, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and more.
But healthy people also use brain training to sharpen their daily lives and keep their brains active.
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