A look at what we have learned this semester
Definition of Brain Plasticity
Brain plasticity is the capacity of the brain to
change with learning.
To change, there needs to be stimulating activity in
Activities must be rigorous and engaging
Types of activities include music, taking challenging
classes and learning a new skill
Why is it important to us?
Brain plasticity tells us that we do have control over
how we age, and that we can build new neurons at
Real life examples of brain plasticity
(as shown in our readings)
London Cab drivers have a larger hippocampus (site
of memory storage) from having to negotiate
constantly changing routes
Learning a musical instrument demonstrated
increased brain size
Bilingual speakers have a larger parietal cortex
Learning a musical instrument before age 7 had
lasting benefits on brain plasticity
What is negative brain plasticity?
Negative brain plasticity occurs when you practice
behaviors which are not healthy for your brain
Disuse (relying on subtitles instead of trying to focus on
Sedentary lifestyle (less connections because of less
Negative learning (looking for easy solutions instead of
striving to learn more)
To improve brain plasticity
Activities that will improve your brain plasticity are:
These activities will increase neuronal connections,
increase neuromodulator release and thereby
improve brain plasticity!
Cognitive Reserve and brain plasticity
Cognitive reserve is a theory that suggests the more
learning will result in brain growth.
It is a positive theory that suggests that you have
control over your brain plasticity
It is contrasted with another theory (brain reserve)
which suggests that you have a maximum capacity
over which there can be no improvement
RESEARCH SUGGESTS THAT COGNITIVE RESERVE IS A
VERY REAL POSSIBILITY!
Physical activity and brain plasticity
Research is pretty much agreed that physical activity
can increase plasticity in the brain
Area which is directly influenced by exercise is
hippocampus (memory center)
Dancing is especially beneficial because it requires
both body and brain!
Even modest exercise (walking at an easy pace) has
been shown to improve cognition
Music and brain plasticity
Listening to music creates pleasure, often because of
the anticipation of what notes will follow, and then a
surprise when the notes vary from what is expected
Each of these behaviors release neuromodulators,
which positively affect brain plasticity
Brain HQ and brain plasticity
Brain HQ activities release neurotransmitters which will affect
Memory activities release dopamine
Attention activities release acetycholine
Activities improve processing speed by improving neuronal
network, increasing brain plasticity
Activities also improve efficiency, which also increases brain
People skills activities require paying attention (releasing
Intelligence activities encourage building memory skills to
develop mental control skills, increasing neuronal network
plasticity is up to you!
Choose activities that are rewarding,
novel, engaging and meaningful.
Avoid disuse, negative learning and
the sedentary lifestyle. Participate in
brain fitness activities to further
enhance your brain plasticity.