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Memory: How Practice Makes Permanent

Understanding their brain’s neuroplasticity motivates kids to build brainpower.

Quasar/Wikimedia Commons
Source: Quasar/Wikimedia Commons

Neuroplasticity is the brain's limitless power to learn, remember and create.

Neuroplasticity is the process through which thoughts, experiences, and actions transform the brain. This ability of the brain to change evolves across our entire lifetimes. The way it works is that each time a memory circuit activates (used, remembered, applied), electric impulses travel through it. These impulses generate more expansive and stronger connections (synapses, dendrites, myelin coating axons) among the brain cells (neurons) of that memory circuit. The newly enhanced information becomes more durable, more readily retrieved, and more easily applied to new applications.

Explain to your children that “Genius is more than genes.”

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Source: Fotosearch Royalty Free Images

Motivate and empower your children to generate enhanced knowledge and memory networks by making them aware that each time they practice, the neural wiring strengthens. The phrase, “Genius is more than genes,” reflects the power of neuroplasticity. Regardless of the brain with which we are born, every brain is capable of neuroplasticity. This means that with practice and effort we can build the brains we want. Children benefit from the understanding of the endless potential for growth that neuroplasticity bestows. When they know it is within their power to build stronger memories and skills through repeated activation of their memory circuits, (just as exercise builds their muscles), they become more willing to practice.

Fotosearch Royalty Free Images
Source: Fotosearch Royalty Free Images

Even those children whose past unsuccessful performances have shattered their confidence in their abilities to build knowledge or skills, can succeed by understanding their own super power of neuroplasticity. Because neuroscience research provides evidence that neuroplasticity has no limits (repetitively using a brain circuit continues to make it more durable and faster), children can regain their confidence and perseverance when they understand that genius is not limited by genes. They can take control and activate those brain circuits, memories and skills they want to strengthen. They will get stronger!

Source: Flickr

You wake up every morning with a new brain.

Explain that because of neuroplasticity, they awaken every morning with a new brain. There, as yet, seems to be no limit in terms of the strength or amount of information one can hold in the neural networks constructed through neuroplasticity. Guide them to understand that their brains are constantly changing in response to their experiences and brain circuits they choose to activate. Practice makes permanent. Each time they review or use information while learning or practicing a skill, the stronger and more powerful it becomes. Allow them to feel the optimism of a new day.

More from Judy Willis M.D., M.Ed.
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