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« Back to articles from category "Medical Business"

The following article was published in our article directory on April 12, 2013.
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The Awesome, Incredible Plastic Brain

Article Category: Medical Business

Author Name: Nancy Swayzee

There is significant interest rates in the brain these days, brought on by the discovery of the phenomenon of neuroplasticity that made headlines several years ago. Books, articles, programs, games and systems, have all been developed to enhance the newly discovered ability of the brain to generate and preserve cells ... the stuff of life. The brain is the newest news producer!

Certainly, the brain has always been "plastic" in its capability to adapt, regulate, re-organize and re-assign its functions to changing situations. We just didn't know it. As we humans often do, in our misguided feeling of intellectual reasoning, we assumed that what we were born with (in terms of the physical body), was all there was. After all, you were born with two eyes, and if you lost one through an accident, you didn't grow another one. If you lost a limb, unlike the gecko, who can rise a new tail, you made do with what was left.

Of course, all this was before the arrival of transplants and prosthetics. These days, even an entire face can be transplanted from one individual to another. Heart transplants, livers, kidneys ... these are all frequent place procedures, with all their risks, pain and sacrifice; they can be done successfully.

We have even explored the amazing ability of the body to re-assign function, if the normal body part is not available - for instance, visualize the patience, dedication, practice and just plain grit it takes, for an aspiring artist to create beauty with a paintbrush held between his toes ... or his teeth! There is probably no more motivating example of re-inventing how to do something than Steven Hawking, who with help from other sparkling brains, has developed a method of interacting through a computer program that permits him to speak by pressing a button that chooses words, that are then spoken through a speech synthesizer. Amazing stuff!

Investigation into the "plastic" nature of the brain has been occurring since the early 1900's, although even William James, the father of psychology, used the word plasticity in his famous essay "Principles of Psychology" in 1890. But, the bottom line for those in the fields of brain science held fast to the notion that brain cells did not regenerate like the other cells within the body. Weight-bearing exercise causes the replenishment of lost bone cells and increased resistance strengthening results in beefed-up and new muscle cells ... even our skin sluffs off and reveal new cells, cuts close and heal; we knew that just doing more "thinking" didn't create new brain cells to accommodate the bigger ideas.

It's the brain! None of these amazing, innovative, creative ways of solving troubles could be done without the brain. The new news that has everyone talking, is the discovery that within the brain, re-assignment of function goes on all the time.

Now this is more clever and creative than you might think. It doesn't mean that specific operations are restored literally. If you lose your sight in an explosion, your ears are not going to "see"... but your brain instructs your visual cortex (the part of the brain that processes images taken in through the eyes), to assist the auditory cortex (your ears), in locating direction and distance of sound, with so much more precision, you can practically see where the audio is coming from.

The brain tells the body to be so sensitive to vibration and changes in air pressure, you can tell when you are coming close to a solid object, or where other people are in relationship to you. Probably the most fantastic example is the young blind teenager, who uses "clicks" with his tongue, to navigate his way around. He had attended high school for some time before other learners realized he was blind. He even roller-blades!

As important and fabulous as all this is, why is the news of the brains plasticity so newsworthy? Well, primarily because one of the mis-conceptions we have held all these years, has been that the brain cells you were born with, was all you got. Period. Worse than that, we believed that as you aged, you systematically lost those brain cells. Now, don't get me wrong, we do lose brain cells, or better said, neuro-cells die off, as do all the cells in the body. It's just that we didn't know there was an on-going replacement system happening all along.

They released the news that in 1995, America's foremost brain researchers had gathered in Chicago to examine the link between movement and learning. What they found, according to this article, was that exercise not only strengthens and creates bone, builds muscle mass and improves strength; raises the basal metabolic rate, controls weight and manages disease ... It also strengthens the basal ganglia, cerebellum and corpus callosum of the brain. In addition, they discovered that the hippocampus, a part of the brain deep in the Limbic system (our emotional center), actually created about 60,000 new brain cells every day.

The reason for the creation of these new brain cells appeared to be sustaining aerobic level exercise for a long enough period of time (they initially said an hour at a time), to stimulate the creation of the new cells. It seemed the exercise stimulated the production of neurotrophins, natural substances that stimulate the growth of nerve cells and increase the number of neural connections in the brain".

Exercise creates something called BDNF's, (brain-derived neurotopic factors), that literally create the production of new brain cells, make the "wiring" thicker and stronger, speed up the transmission of signals and a bunch of other miraculous things ... so much so, that John Rately, MD, in his ground-breaking book "Spark, The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain", labeled BDNF's, Miracle-Gro for the brain! A common factor mentioned in all of these studies was the increased blood flow and oxygen that exercise promoted to the brain.

"As I Live and Breathe ...".

It takes oxygen to break down our food into energy that is used to sustain both body and brain function. Within minutes of the cessation of breath, both the brain and the body will die. It takes oxygen to sustain the life of brain tissue, and it requires movement to provide the necessary amount.

Tragically, our nursing homes and extended care facilities are full of old people trapped in a trance-like state of inertia, due to the lack of physical movement necessary to keep their brains alive.

We need to move in order to think, and Dr. Rately proved that the more we move, the better we think. Just think (ha-ha), about it ... Dancing can make you smarter!

Time to bring this chapter to a close. The next article will be about thinking, and how we have discovered that thinking more (learning), can create bigger thoughts! Sometimes it's nice to be proven wrong.

Brains are my interest, as is the magic of our bodies and life itself. Writing about it is one way for me to express my continuing wonder and joy at being alive.

The bottom line for those in the fields of brain science held fast to the notion that brain cells did not regenerate like the other cells within the body. Weight-bearing exercise causes the replenishment of lost bone cells and increased resistance strengthening results in new and beefed-up muscle cells ... even our skin sluffs off and reveal new cells, cuts close and heal; we knew that just doing more "thinking" didn't create new brain cells to accommodate the bigger thoughts.

If you lose your sight in an explosion, your ears are not going to "see"... but your brain tells your visual cortex (the part of the brain that processes images taken in through the eyes), to assist the auditory cortex (your ears), in locating direction and distance of sound, with so much more precision, you can practically see where the sound is coming from.

Now, don't get me wrong, we do lose brain cells, or better said, neuro-cells die off, as do all the cells in the body. In addition, they uncovered that the hippocampus, a part of the brain deep in the Limbic system (our emotional center), actually created about 60,000 new brain cells every day.

About the Author: Nancy Swayzee is an old exercise specialist who teaches other older adults and seniors ranging in age from 60's to in their 90's.
If you want to see more amazing news, please visit this website class="text" target="_blank" href="http://www.cosasincreibles.com/">click here

Keywords: brain, cells, miracle, body, regenerate

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