Contrary to what was previously believed about the brain and cognition, all humans without damage to the brain or significant developmental delay have the capacity to learn throughout the lifespan. This capacity to learn new things has a neurological basis: “As we learn the brain changes”. The brain becomes what it does. Thus our brains are shaped by experiences. Everything that we do has an impact on the brain structure. The ability of the brain to change and adapt to new information is implicated by the brain’s plasticity. This has been scientifically termed as NEUROPLASTICITY.
The vehicle for neuroplasticity is the neuron which is the smallest functional unit of the brain. The brain consists of billions of neurons whose responsibility is to transmit information through the brain to different parts of the body. These nerve cells which are in charge of passing information in electrical and chemical forms in the nervous system comprise of 3 basic parts:
- The dendrites,
- The cell body and
- The axon.
The several billions of neurons are all connected via dendrites with which they pass information among them. These neural connections form networks, which are constantly being strengthened when the same set of neurons fire together when performing a specific task. A law that supports this is called Hebb’ law which states that:
“Neurons that fire together, wire together”
Each experience and learning process that occurs which include our feelings, thoughts, sensations, and muscle actions gets embedded in the network of neurons, that produce that experience. Each time that task or thought is repeated, the neural connections are strengthened.
Learning capacity or neuroplasticity is known to vary as we age and is particularly of great importance when learning a new skill or information. In a young child, learning takes place without any effort, whereas learning a second language when older is a possibility as result of neuroplasticity but may take a longer time. All humans have this neurological capacity to change, which we call learning. And although it’s easier when we’re young, the brain can grow, adapt and learn at any age.
Through brain training strategies, therapies and exercises, neuroplasticity of the brain emerges!
A damaged brain aspect can be trained to function better!
Novel skills can be learnt!
Cognitive ability can improve with increasing age!
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