Not that long ago scientists believed that the brain could only create new connections and develop during childhood and once you reach adulthood, you are basically stuck with what you got. An old adage bears testimony to this fact – “ You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.

You have the power to change your brain

Well, turns out you can! You have the power over your brain more than you think you do. Your brain has the capacity to create new neurons throughout your life until you die. Also, you have the capacity to rewire your brain by discarding old connections and forging new ones. The scientific term for this wonderful phenomenon of the brain is called as neuroplasticity. And, it means that no matter what we are, who we are, it’s never too late to change, learn new skills and improve our lives.

Your brain is not a static organ but is super dynamic and plastic with the ability to change itself and it is in your hands to give the right direction to the brain to rewire itself. In this article, we will look at ways you can rewire your brain and take control of your life no matter what your age is.

Neuroplasticity and its Effect on Brain

Let’s take a look at the story of a person named Cameron Mott. Cameron was diagnosed with an ailment called Rasmussen’s encephalitis, and the only treatment for this was a hemispherectomy -cutting out half of her brain. Just four-weeks post-operation, she walked out of the hospital with a bit of hemiplegia and peripheral loss of vision. However, she was cognitively active and it’s just amazing.

Just imagine with only 50% of her brain what happened was that remaining part of her brain was able to sense the massive loss of neural tissues. And, it physically just rewired and reorganized itself to take the onus and handle the activities of the other half.

Now, this is the power of the brain and its innate ability to change itself and be dynamic.

How Neuroplasticity can Help?

1. Cure learning and memory Disorders

In general, we don’t make full use of our brain. In children with autism and learning disabilities like ADD, it is possible to create new neuronal pathways in the brain through sustained learning and experience and, thus, reduce learning disabilities.

Also, it can prevent progressive cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s, Dementia and others.

2. Treat Depression and Various Psychiatric Disorders

The neurotransmitters drugs prescribed for depression do not help in the long runs as they reduce the ability of the body to naturally produce them. Neuroplasticity, instead,  can be used as a potent treatment for depression, by inducing natural rewiring of the brain. The impact of hurtful memories can be reduced and the brain can be trained to view life more positively.

3. Rehabilitate Stroke

It was believed till recently that a function undertaken by one part of the brain could not be taken over by some other part of the brain. However, the latest research has studied that brain pathways can indeed be re-built and stroke victims can be trained to use different parts of the brain to take over the functions performed by the damaged part. Constraint-induced movement therapy (CIPT) developed by Dr. Edward Taub proves the positive effect of neuroplasticity.

In CIPT, the rehabilitation involves rigorous practice with the stroke-affected side.

What you Can do to Rewire your Brain?

1. Realize that You are the Architect of your Brain

Just as physical exercises build your muscles, when you learn new things, your brain too grows with mental exercise and the neurons develop great connectivity. As you learn from your experiences and build positive thoughts, these thoughts carve out new pathways inside your brain.

Repetition and practice strengthen these new pathways and reinforce them leading to the formation of new habits. Then as when practice makes you perfect, old pathways become obsolete and wither away.

2. Recognize and Avoid Triggers that Deteriorate Brain Function

Habits play an integral role in your overall health and wellbeing, It is essential to understand the routines that are harmful and break those routines in order to adopt healthier habits and lifestyle choices. You have the choice to make it or break it.

Stop Caffeine, Hybridized Wheat, Refined Sugars, Mercury, Alcohol, Tobacco, MSG or Mono-Sodium Glutamate, Chemicals and Certain Drugs. All of these triggers cause a compromise on your brain function.

3. Train your Brain

If you don’t explore and learn new skills, you are not engaging the brain’s plasticity. Highly focused activities keep the brain in good shape. Learning a new language, logistical puzzles, new environments, physical exercises are some stimulants that will engage your brain’s plasticity.

4. Be Mindful

You should strive to become aware of your thoughts and decisions. Don’t let emotions control you, instead, control your emotions by observing inner experiences as if they were happening to someone else.

According to David Smith, co-author of the book Unchain your Brain, mindfulness, and meditation are essential for the brain to create new pathways. Just think about it, without reacting automatically, simply increase your awareness to focus on uncomfortable states and challenging situations and then come up with solutions.

5. Count to 10

As simple as it sounds, whenever you are under stressful situations, de-stress yourself by focusing your attention on breathing and counting to ten. This will restore your mind to clarity and peace in the present moment.

6. Begin and End your Day Positively

A positive thought encourages your neurons while negative thinking or panicking will only create thorns in the pathways of your brain. Always be positive and grateful for what you have and achieved in your life.

By focusing on the constructive and good at all times, your brain will automatically be re-programmed to scan for joyful and positive things.

7. Laugh

Laughter is the best medicine. An International research team, led by the University of Oxford, found out that the physical exertion, which accompanies laughter makes the brain trigger endorphins, which in turn, promotes happiness and manages pain.

When you practice laughter exercise regularly, the brain gets re-organized and will start looking for more of happiness and less of pain.

8. Exercise

Studies have proven that exercise not only helps the body but also the mind by leading to the growth of newer neurons and neurogenesis. You can exercise your way to better brain health and rewire your brain to perform better.

9. Fasting

Fasting also does good things to your brain. Firstly, it is a challenge to the brain and the brain responds to it by developing stress response pathways which in turn promotes the growth of neurons, reinforcing its connections and strength. It also stimulates the production of ketones which are an energy source for neurons.

10. Don’t over-rely on Gadgets

The more you rely on devices to recall information, the more you need them. A study found that this results in cognitive offloading.

Hack your Brain to Stay Fit and Active

The power of the brain’s neuroplasticity promises a great deal to keep your brain healthy and active even in old age. It’s never too late, with small changes and acceptance, you can rewire your brain and take control of your life to stay healthy and wise.

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