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The Aging Brain (2)

Page history last edited by Alyssa 8 years, 6 months ago

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http://www.memoryzine.com/neuroplasticity.htm

 

Neuroplasticity-“the brain’s ability to act and react in ever-changing ways”

  • The brain is adaptive with a large mental capacity to process varied information and complex experiences
  • Communication is constantly occurring in our brain through rearranging pathways and newly laid pathways between nerve cells (neurons).
  • Neuorplasticity allows for new memories, learning new skills, and adaptations/adjustments to new situations.
  • Allows individuals to recover/overcome brain injuries and cognitive disabilities.
  •  Neuroplasticity occurs throughout our lifetime as the result of many different and complex processes and reshapes the brain from learning experiences or from injury.

 

Nature vs. Nurture

  • Both genetics and the environment play a role in the brain’s plasticity
  • Information from the environment is sent through axons to the part of the brain that is appropriate for handling that specific information
  • Information is sent via electrical impulses down an axon to the dendrite which synapses, or connects, to another neuron which repeats the process
  • These connections and pathways create a complex network of interconnections which transfer information between the environment and different parts of the brain
  • The genetic component plays a role at birth when each neuron has approximately 2,500 connections which increases to 15,000 connections by the age of two or three which then decreases again in adulthood
  • Neuroplasticity both deletes old connections and creates new connections through a process called synaptic pruning which allows processing of new information and removal of information that is not used.
  • Learning takes place through an alteration to an already existing connection between neurons or the formation of a new connection between neurons.
  • Scientists believe that long term memories are created when information is first stored through the transmission of information from one neuron to another to create a short term memory, and then reversed from the second neuron to the first as it is perceived to be important or repeated often.
  • This process is called reverbration and occurs through the electrochemical impulses

 

The Damaged Brain:

  • Plasticity allows for new connections to be rebuilt despite trauma, disease or genetic misfortune
  • Compensation takes place when pathways are damaged or dysfunctional by creating new pathways that reroute information or strengthen the damaged pathways
  • There are four major patters of plasticity that scientists have identified
  • Functional map expansion-surrounding healthy cells take over the function of the damaged pathways
  • Compensatory masquerade-reorganization of existing synaptic pathways to respond to changes in the body’s demands lost by the function in the damaged area
  • Homologous region adoption-an entire brain area takes over the functions of a distant brain area that has been damaged
  • Cross model reassignment-One type of sensory input replaces a damaged area
  • Neural processes never cease or reach a fixed pattern
  • New research reports that along with creating and modifying pathways, the brain can create new brain cells
  • The brain can retain its adaptive flexibility, regenerative capacity and efficiency throughout the life span if the brain is challenged and engaged by a variety of stimulations and new, as well as old, experiences

 

Future steps:

  • Research suggests that neuroplasticity may be the key part in creating effective treatments for brain damage as well as those suffering from cognitive disabilities
  • Some scientists believe that neuroplasticity will be able to rid individuals of discriminatory thoughts and provide individuals with the ability to perfect physical abilities
  • Based on the “directed neuroplasticity” theory, scientists can use precise calculations of input and repetitive patterns of stimulation to create advantageous outcomes and changes in the brain

 

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