Throughout the years, many of us have been conditioned to believe that once we reach a particular stage in life, we can’t change. The outcome of today’s blog is to blow a big fat hole in that myth. How many times have we heard or said,” “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” or” “A tiger doesn’t change its stripes.” Unfortunately, phrases like these are a staple within the English lexicon. So much so, the thought that we can’t change has become an ingrained belief that few have challenged.
If you feel like many people are” “set in their ways”” and will never change, you are probably right. However, you are incorrect if you believe that once a person becomes set in her ways, she can’t change. If you think I’m full of manure, try googling Neuroplasticity (or just keep reading).
While surfing the net, I came across THE HAPPINESS BLOG written by Dr. Sandip Roy board-certified medical doctor from the National Medical Commission.* From Dr. Roy’s blog, I gained the following insight:
A Brief History of Neuroplasticity
According to Fuchs and Flugge, 2014, it was Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Father of Neuroscience, who first mentioned” “neuronal plasticity” in the early 1900s. However, the term “neuroplasticity” was first used in scientific literature by Jerzy Konorski from Poland, in 1948. He used it to explain the changes in the nerve structure of our brain cells.
For decades, the brain was considered a “non-renewable organ.” That is, the brain cells are of a finite number, and when they die eventually as we age, it’s the end of the line for them. But research proved otherwise.
In the 1960s, scientists found the brain could “reorganize” itself after a trauma. Further research discovered that the brain could re-allot large portions of its structure to take up new functions.
The Science of Neuroplasticity**
In a simple sentence, Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to restructure itself by creating new nerve connections and taking over new functions. Research has firmly established that the brain is a dynamic organ and can change its design throughout life, responding to experience by reorganizing connections—via so-called “wiring” and “rewiring.” Scientists sometimes refer to the process of Neuroplasticity as structural remodeling of the brain.
Neuroplasticity enables the brain cells to grow new roots and take up new roles, thereby making up for any functional impairment after damage to the brain. (This is excellent news for those of us who destroyed all those brain cells during our college years.)
A short blog may not be enough to convince you that humans can change at any stage of their life. If you are interested and need more evidence, subscribe to Psychology Today or just surf the net. It’s one thing to believe it can happen and an entirely different thing to make it happen. Change is difficult. It requires commitment, desire, and discipline, just like any worthwhile endeavor in life.
*Author Bio: Written by Sandip Roy – medical doctor, pyschology writer, happiness researcher. Founder of Happiness India Project and chief edior of its blog. He writes popular-science articles on positive psychology and related medical topics.
**Neuroplasticity as described in Psychology today