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Our Brains Are Built for Change

Tuesday April 28, 2009

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

Our brains are built for change. We are born with crude perception abilities, no cognitive activity and little control of our physical movements. Our brains evolve over a lifetime building a repertoire of skills and abilities unique to each of us.

In Michael Merzenich’s talk he discusses the early exposure to sounds and the attempt by the developing brain to make sense of auditory input. By observing brain function with auditory input in a variety of species scientists have discovered the natural processor, our brain, goes to work making sense of sounds. In the first year of life the brain evolves quickly in response to its environment.

Even as an adult your brain is changing and morphing to adjust to skill building and new information. We all know that children go through profound changes but we often underestimate the changes we are experiencing. As we learn new skills our brain processors rise to the challenge and adapt to the new demands.

Technology offers constant change and challenge. In an interesting article from SEED MAGAZINE This is your Brain on Facebook

“Everything you do changes your brain,” says Daphne Bavelier, associate professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester. “When reading was invented, it also made huge changes to the kind of thinking we do and carried changes to the visual system.”

The study of adult brain plasticity, how the brain continues to dramatically change its wiring and function long after early development, has picked up speed in recent years as scientists realize that the brain is not static, but truly never stops reorganizing itself in response to the world. While in-depth examinations of what changes on a cellular and molecular scale remain very difficult in humans, indirect measures of brain changes, such as fMRI images, have strongly suggested that the adult brain is a highly malleable organ.

There is even evidence to indicate that video games may actually improve one’s attention. But just like with everything, practice was the key ingredient to improvement. Practice leads to plasticity or in other words … you can teach a dog new tricks.


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