What is Neuroplasticity?
Simply put, neuroplasticity is your brain’s ability to learn and adjust its functioning accordingly. Neuroplasticity is the ability for neurons and neural networks to change their connections and functions to adapt to any type of change, such as new information, development, stimulation, or damage. When one’s environment changes, or certain events are experienced repeatedly, neuroplasticity allows your brain to adjust to these changes or repeated experiences.
In repeated experiences, your brain is repeatedly activating the same brain areas and neuronal connections in response to this experience. As a result, the neurons that are communicating strengthen their relationship over time to adapt to this repeated experience. Examples of this form of neuroplasticity include the learning of a new skill, mastering a learned skill, or thinking repetitive thoughts. When the neuronal connections associated with these activities are strengthened, the activities become more readily and easily performed. This is the cellular process of short- and long-term memory consolidation. Similar results have been found in smart phone users who have increased brain activity in the area representing thumb sensory information, directly relating to their amount and intensity of smart phone use. Another example is that of the taxi driver who shows increased gray matter in the anterior hippocampus, a region associated with spatial memory, as a result of his knowledge of navigating the city. However, the taxi driver’s brain structure and volume, rather than the strength of neural connections, is what adapted through repeated use. Neuroplasticity is an amazing process that allows us to grow and adapt, continually throughout our lives.