Prime Your Gray Cells

Wiring your brain for happiness and success

Plastic Is Fantastic . . . for Your Brain

For centuries, scientists believed that the human brain and its connections were formed during gestation and infancy, and remained pretty much unchanged after childhood. In the last decade, however, researchers have found significant evidence that something called neuroplasticity continues throughout our lives. Read More

The first sentence of the

The first sentence of the article is clearly false, so I won't read on.

Well, the first sentence is

Well, the first sentence is false, save for the detail 'humans are the only animals who understand they have brains...' (on Earth)... the rest doesn't quite wash.

I'm sorry you find the first

I'm sorry you find the first sentence to be false:

"Humans are the only species known to have consciousness, awareness that we have brains and bodies capable of adaptability, that we can affect the course our lives take, that we can make choices along the way that vastly affect the quality of our lives-biologically, intellectually, environmentally, and spiritually."

If you're referring to animals having consciousness and a knowledge of their own adaptability (which I am assuming, please forgive or correct me if I am wrong), I believe this field is hotly debated. Self-awareness according to the "mirror test" in which an animal seems to recognize itself in a mirror has been shown in chimpanzees, other great apes, one elephant, and dolphins, and magpies, I believe. Some animals seem to also perform rudimentary arithmetic. However, I do not believe that anyone has said or proved conclusively that animals have consciousness in the exact same manner or depth as human beings, thus the assertion in the sentence.

neuroplasticity, easy vs. hard vs. negative

For stroke survivors this is incredibly important.
Standard dogma in brain exercise is that the more you use an area more neurons are recruited from adjacent areas to strengthen your ability to do those tasks. Ie. braille readers increase the area of the sensory cortex mapped to finger tips. This brings up the conundrum in stroke rehabilitation, we have lost millions of neurons and have damaged millions more. If we make the assumption that neurogenesis and stem cells will not be able to help us we are led down three possible paths of complete recovery. I actually believe in neurogenesis.
1. Neurons can do double duty, control toe function and finger sensation.
2. Single neurons are enough to control functions. This is described here;
http://oc1dean.blogspot.com/2011/04/single-neuron-power.html Meaning that we take an area that used to use 1000 neurons to control a function and reduce control to 1 neuron, thus freeing up 999 neurons for other uses. I'm sure it would take a lot of research to even prove if this is possible. Negative neuroplasticity may be more important than regular neuroplasticity.
3. An area of the brain is selected for takeover, cleaned of its old functions and replaced with more agressive needs. Ie. toe function is lost and replaced with finger function. In this case you hope your cognitive functions are strong enough to resist being taken over.

Never mind me, my stroke-addled brain is trying too hard to figure out the brain.

I'm glad you found the

I'm glad you found the article informative! I agree that the issue of neuroplasticity (and its many forms) is an incredibly detailed topic that I did not delve into here. Stroke survivors are one of the best examples of neuroplasticity in the world, as they are re-learning functions from basic to complex.

Thanks so much for your comment and the details you provide.

In Addition to Medication?

What's wrong with people with a chemical imbalance using these in addition to medication? Some people may need extra help from medication but that doesn't mean they won't benefit at all from these techniques.

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Teresa Aubele, Ph.D., is a coauthor of Train Your Brain to Get Happy. She conducts neuroscientific research at Florida State University.

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