Review of brain plasticity


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This PowerPoint presentation will help review what we have learned during the semester.

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Review of brain plasticity

  1. 1. Brain Plasticity A look at what we have learned this semester
  2. 2. 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 the neurons  Activities must be rigorous and engaging  Types of activities include music, taking challenging classes and learning a new skill
  3. 3. 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 any age!
  4. 4. 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
  5. 5. What is negative brain plasticity?  Negative brain plasticity occurs when you practice behaviors which are not healthy for your brain  Examples include:  Disuse (relying on subtitles instead of trying to focus on the words)  Sedentary lifestyle (less connections because of less stimulation)  Negative learning (looking for easy solutions instead of striving to learn more)
  6. 6. To improve brain plasticity  Activities that will improve your brain plasticity are:     Novel Engaging Rewarding Meaningful  These activities will increase neuronal connections, increase neuromodulator release and thereby improve brain plasticity!
  7. 7. 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!
  8. 8. 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
  9. 9. 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
  10. 10. Brain HQ and brain plasticity  Brain HQ activities release neurotransmitters which will affect plasticity  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 plasticity  People skills activities require paying attention (releasing acetycholine)  Intelligence activities encourage building memory skills to develop mental control skills, increasing neuronal network
  11. 11. Improving brain 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.