Brain plasticity refers to the capacity of the physical brain and the neuropathways within it to keep on learning, adapting and changing throughout our lives.
Extraordinarily, even though the theory of brain plasticity was advanced more than 100 years ago, it was firmly rejected at the time. In keeping with medical science, the proponents were ridiculed and banished from academic institutions.
Yet, during the last 10-15 years researchers (mainly neuroscientists) fully confirmed the existence and scale of neuroplasticity.
Most of the talk is connected to people with various brain injuries, whereby different regions of the brain can adapt their ordinary function and take over other functions. But this is only one small part of brain plasticity.
The functioning of the brain and the Central Nervous System, which in turn runs our thinking and physiology, is dependent upon a network of some 100 billion brain cells which are organised into neuro- pathways.
And here is the interesting bit. Whilst it is understood that those brain cells generate our thinking, it is also understood now that in turn, our thoughts can change the neuro pathways. More and more neuroscientists are discovering how to do this. For example, Rick Hanson, author of Buddha’s Brain has explained how the brain has a priority for negative information (for survival purposes). Consequently, to get positive information to change our brains requires more than just positive thinking. It is necessary to use specific mindfulness and focusing techniques to get positive frameworks to “stick”.
This is also where NeurOptimal ® neurofeedback / brain training gets interesting: When our brains are optimised and in harmony, they will naturally run positive programmes and reduce stressful ones. If on the other hand, are brain’s natural order has been disrupted through stress, trauma or the ups and downs of life, they will start to get stuck in negative thinking and feeling loops. NeurOptimal as the only non linear dynamical system of neurofeedback identifies when the brain is generating “turbulent levels of electrical activity”in real time. This may signal the onset of non-useful or non-efficient brain activity. NeurOptimal provides the brain with feedback about this and potentially interrupts it (the brain chooses).
The result is that learning takes place in the brain and certain electrical connections are strengthened with weaker connections being plugged into stronger ones. In this way, negative thinking and behaviours fall away, and positive changes become apparent.
So whether we use our thinking and visualisation processes according to the findings of neuroscience, or whether we use an advanced technology such as NeurOptimal, the point is that whatever problems or weaknesses we have, are not fixed! We are capable of and can make powerful and long lasting changes. Almost regardless of the problems we have.
Director of Neurofeedback UK Ltd and Neurofeedback Ireland