How would you like to be better at problem solving, learning a new language, increasing your ability to focus, regaining body function due to a stroke, or recapturing some lost brain function from a brain trauma such as an auto accident? Your mind is very capable of creating these incredible lasting changes in function from neuroplasticity shaping techniques.
Neuroplasticity refers to the potential that the brain has to reorganize by creating new neural pathways to adapt, as it needs. Think of the neurological changes being made in the brain as the brain's way of tuning itself to meet your needs. A simple way to consider how the brain builds new neural pathways as it's challenged by new information and it's environment might be to think of the brain as a radio. When dialing the tuning knob on the radio by hand to find something to listen to you might come across a station that sounds interesting, but has a great deal of static so you can't really understand everything they are saying. To bring the station in clearer you would focus and dial the station in slowly a digit at a time to bring it in with as little distortion as possible. You can think of building new neural pathways the same way when learning something new. The more you focus and practice something the better you become at the new skill that you are learning or an obstacle you are trying to overcome. By doing this new neural connections are created in the brain as synapses that don't usually fire together do, which help us to sharpen our new skill.
Improving neuroplasticity does not have to involve brain games with complex algorithms compiled by a team of neuroscientists. Below are examples of a broad range of brain exercises you can fit into your daily life.
Immersing oneself in intellectually stimulating activities provides a brain workout. They could include online courses, debates, or board games. Challenge your brain by doing common tasks differently. Rather than hiking your regular trail this weekend, find a new trail to explore. If you do Tibetan Buddhist meditation each week, drop in on a Zen class and bend those brainwaves in a different direction. If you teach psychology, switch a few classes with a colleague and guest lecture on social psychology, or perhaps you have an interest in behavioral economics. You get the idea. Stretch out your intellectual capacity.
Physical activity has many beneficial effects on brain health, including pumping up brain stimulating hormones. Stroke patients do rehabilitative exercises to stimulate neurons. Specific motor activities can target select areas of the brain. When stroke victims are engaged in walking exercises, they strengthen neural connections in the brain area associated with that movement.
Binaural beats have been shown to promote left and right brain hemispheric convergence. This promotes whole brain thinking. Today, meditation music is available to stimulate select brain waves. If you are a creative person, your right brain will be more developed and you are more likely to have improved hemispheric convergence. Many business people fail to fully develop their right brain but instead lean more on left brain thinking. You can master your mind and develop one of today’s most sought-after business skills – creative, out-of-the-box right brain thinking. More and more employers are testing for right brain thinking in the hiring process.