Neuroplasticity: Can You Really Teach and Old Dog New Tricks?

In recent years, the field of neuroscience has exploded as we continue to better understand the intricacies of brain function.  Neuroplasticity refers to changes in neural pathways and synapses which are due to changes in behavior, environment and neural processes; as well as changes resulting from bodily injury. Neuroplasticity has replaced the formerly-held position that the brain is a physiologically static organ, and explores how, and in which ways, the brain changes throughout life.  Although damaged brain tissue does not itself heal after injury the brain responds and adapts by creating new neural pathways.   For example, if one hemisphere of the brain is damaged, the intact hemisphere may take over some of its functions. The brain compensates for damage in effect by reorganizing and forming new connections between intact neurons. In order to reconnect, the neurons need to be stimulated through activity. Neuroscientific research indicates that experience or activity can actually change both the brains physical structure (anatomy) as well as functional organization (physiology)

For year, this type of brain reorganization had been widely utilized and accepted for brain injury, learning, development and memory. More recent research demonstrates the value of Neuroplasticity in treating neurological or psychological conditions such as poor vison, learning difficulty, depression/anxiety, phantom limb pain and chronic pain.   Activities such as meditation, fitness, physical and mental exercise are therapeutic activities that contribute to the creation of these neural pathways and improved brain function.