This concept of a highly adaptive brain is known as neuroplasticity, and was largely developed by neuroscientist Paul Bach-Y-Rita. This critical understanding of the brain changes our notion of maintaining good health. What we now know is that your neurons are not “hard-wired”, but these cells and their networks evolve in response to your thoughts, emotions, learned skills, practiced movements, injuries, and illnesses.
The following documentary provides an overview of neuroplasticity and the research that provided evidence of the adaptable, ‘plastic’ human brain. It's about an hour long but it is well worth your time!
Understanding this concept is important for maximizing and maintaining your health throughout your lifespan. As exercise physiologists, the phenomenon of neuroplasticity informs what we do in preparing exercise and lifestyle modifications for the long-term treatment of chronic diseases. Living longer with optimal health requires that you are continually challenging your brain with new ideas, new experiences, and new movement skills, to ensure that new neurons are laid down and your ‘circuitry’ continues to evolve – rather than shrink! – as you age.
Written by Brendan Rigby, Accredited Exercise Physiologist.
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