Believe it or not your brain is a living organ that can actually change it’s own structure and function…even into older age. Neuroplasticity is defined as: “the ability of the brain to form and reorganize or rewire synaptic connections”. Researchers have now proven that with appropriate learning, the brain continues to change even after damage from a stroke or other neurological conditions like Parkinson’s or Multiple Sclerosis. They are now looking into more preventative methods for other conditions affecting the brain like Dementia. An amazing example of neuroplasticity is shown with a woman who is born with half a brain. With specific exercises, this lady has incredibly cured her deficits to function as a normal functioning brain. 

So what are these amazing exercises you may ask? Research has shown that repetition and amplitude are important factors. Exercise such as walking and other specific movements can not only improve fitness, strength, balance but also cognition. The inclusion of brain specific puzzles (like crosswords, Sudoku and Bejewelled) have also shown to have benefit. Researchers have also found that participating in new activities to keep the brain learning is highly beneficial. So in summary, keep active (both physically and mentally) and try new things are the best approach to changing the brain’s structure.

So it’s true, an old dog can learn new tricks! For more information about neuroplasticity ask your friendly staff at Physiotherapy Links or look into the books by Norman Doige The Brain That Can Change Itself and The Brain’s Way of Healing.