Neural Plasticity

Neural plasticity is the capacity of the brain to mold and change itself. The brain never stops growing. The brain is like a computer that can grow new circuits.

References

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWMah7Io4qA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KLPxDtMqe8

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2277220/

http://www.cns.nyu.edu/csh/csh06/PDFs/Dan.pdf

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFzDaBzBlL0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FlV6pgwlrk

A break down of the best and most relevant video courses on Neural Plasticity

The popular youtube channel, SciShow did a quick crash course on how neural plasticity works. Here is a break down and summary of what the video touches on:

Soma is the nucleus of the neuron. (what does the nucleus of neuron look like inside?)

Axons transmit information/signals

Dendrites receive information/signals

Synpses are the bridges between the axon of one neuron and the dendrite of another neuron.

Each neuron can have up to 15,000 synapses. In the average 3 year old child, but by adulthood this number is generally halved

Info that needs to be retained for long periods of time. The Neuron reinforces the existing neurons and can even grow more over time.

Info that isn't that important has fewer synapses.

The process of learning alters the structure of the brain down to the cellular level!

Synaptic Pruning: The human brain of a 3 year old can have up to 15,000 synapses but by adulthood that number can be down to half of that. The synapses shrink up when they are no longer needed, this is called synaptic pruning.

Cells that fire together wire together. Out of sync, lose your link.

-The Brain is a network of 100 billion neurons.
Question: Why are they arranged the way the are? are most brains arranged in the same way?

This video uses the visual system as an example to show how neural plasticity works by Stanford PHD Carla J. Shatz

This video talks on how the visual system changes how the brain wires itself.

Summary: The lower visual layer in the brain of young humans is not as segregated as it is in adults. The process is segregation is seems to be triggered by a certain gene that happens to be tied to the immune system.

Terms: Ocular dominance columns:

LGN (Lateral geniculate nucleus) : A Relay located in the Thalamus that serves the visual pathway coming from the retina.

MHC Class 1 (major histocompatibility complex): These molecules are found on the cell surface. These molecules main function is to display fragments of non self proteins from within the cell to cytotoxic T cells, triggering an immediate immune system response.

On the subject of increasing neuroplasticity

This brain exercise video seems to demonstrate the premise that games do actually work in opening up new neural pathways.

In my case, after stumbling consecutively for the third time, i had realized that I could simply focus on the color at the edge of the first letter while blocking out the rest of the word which in turn created a short cut for my brain to deduce the color of the words, without having to think about the meaning of the words themselves.

Is this a case of suppression of information on will?

Here are 9 tips from Hub pages:

  1. Engage in new challenges
  2. Practice focused attention
  3. Explore with childlike wonder
  4. Exercise 3 to 4 days a week.
  5. Learn to meditate.
  6. Develop stimulating friendships.
  7. Laugh often
  8. Healthy diet and plenty of water.
  9. Practice positive thinking.

On the subject of decreasing neuro plasticity

Ref: http://www.nature.com/npp/journal/v33/n1/full/1301574a.html#close http://hubpages.com/health/Brain-Training-Improve-Your-Neuroplasticity-with-10-Easy-Tips

Mood disorders like depression can have an adverse affect on plasticity, chronic stress can precipitate depression or exacerbate it. Furthermore, chronic stress can not only decrease neuroplasticity but cause real brain damage. Stress releases cortisol and adrenaline, both of these (specially cortisol) have been proven to increase inflamation, (which impedes blood flow and oxygen from reaching the brain) along with : " encourage weight gain, impede neuron development and increase synaptic pruning across all neural pathways. Stress can actually cause brain damage." 1

References:

[1] http://hubpages.com/health/Brain-Training-Improve-Your-Neuroplasticity-with-10-Easy-Tips

https://www.reddit.com/r/Meditation/comments/2ixjf6/meddits_online_recommendations/

https://www.samharris.org/blog/item/taming-the-mind

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/how-to-meditate

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWi9c9neJ3U

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