Photo: Getty Images
Research on the brain is overturning some long-held beliefs and assumptions about the brain's ability to adapt and change its game plan. Let me introduce the amazing neuroplasticity of the brain.
Neurologists at the University of Maryland looked at neuron (nerve cell) activity in the auditory cortex and discovered that the brain is more flexible than any of us realized.
Neurons in the auditory cortex were found to be far more individualistic than expected in their responses to the same input.
Individual neurons can in effect select a response, and shift from their former function to one more favorable to the brain and body. Neurons may even be able to pick and choose which inputs to respond to and which ones to bypass.
This is a different picture from what's found in the visual cortex. Here, neurons work together, performing the same function.
Continued research in this area could lead to advances for prevention and treatment for diseases caused by early brain injury, like epilepsy and cerebral palsy. These findings were published in the January 31, 2011 edition of Nature Neuroscience online.
According to a study by the Mayo Clinic, while our brains stop growing during our twenties, deliberate efforts on our part can keep our brains responding to new learning. It is possible to increase our capacity for memory retention and clarity of thought.
The November, 2009 edition of the Archives of Neurology reported on new research that indicated a correlation between cognitive fitness and muscle fitness. Participants in the top 10 percent of muscle strength also were less prone to cognitive loss. The stronger the individual, the less likely experience of cognitive decline.
Research from the University of Wisconsin performed brain scans on Tibetan monks. Monks who were veterans at meditation had significant activation of brain areas dealing with emotions and attention.
Guy McCormack, clinical professor and chair of the occupational therapy and occupational science department at the MU School of Health Professions has concluded that stroke survivors may be able to regain more of their previous abilities than was thought in the past.