Remember that old saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?” Now, research is discovering that “new tricks” are exactly what “old dogs” need to keep a youthful and healthy brain! The brain is not an organ that is separate from the rest of the body, and as a holistic chiropractor, I often see clients whose health has suffered from the stress of poor brain-body connections.
For many years it was believed that childhood and early adulthood was the only time for brain growth and development and that adults later in life experienced declining brain function; that because their brains were aging, older adults were set in their ways, more forgetful and uninterested in experiencing the new.
Cognitive decline can be evidenced by affects on memory, response time, attention skills and the ability to speak and understand what others are saying. Even though this decline is still considered a normal part of aging, studies have shown that people who remain mentally active seem to experience less cognitive decline.
An individual’s brain may be aging, yet it is also continuing to develop. Brain plasticity refers to the brain’s ability to physically change, for better or worse, throughout life. It is a concept that is simple: the brain is not static, it responds to new circumstances and to new learning. In response to new stimuli, new neural pathways and connections are created. These physical changes can happen at any age. Here are some facts about our brain that modern science has discovered:
- The brain continues to form new brain cells (neurogenesis)
- The brain can change its structure and function (plasticity)
- Positive stress can be beneficial to brain plasticity and negative stress can be detrimental
- The brain thrives on novel challenges
- The brain needs to be exercised, just like the body.
The brain’s natural plasticity can be enhanced by the right stimuli. More is needed than simply solving crossword puzzles, reading a newspaper or daubing a bingo card. A brain fitness program must be intensive and progressively challenging. By pushing the brain to learn new skills, it builds and refines neural pathways. Combining mental exercise with physical exercise can greatly improve general cognition and boost creativity.
In my practice, I utilize QNRT (Quantum Neurological Reset Therapy) as a process to stimulate neuroplasticity in the brain. QNRT is designed to create a quantum shift by resetting the brain from emotional shocks lodged within the nervous system. For more information, click here.
Many adults have a tendency to get set in their ways, not trying new things and not thinking about new ways to do old things. The truth is that change can be one of the best ways to keep aging brains healthy! The following benefits are created when a person learns something new, especially if is outside their area of expertise:
- Keeps the mind fresh and gives a spark to life
- Serves as a reminder of what it was like to be young and eager to learn
- Invigorates mental “muscles”
Brain plasticity is a physical process. Neural connections can be forged and refined or weakened and severed. Changes in the physical brain manifest as changes in our abilities. Each time a person learns something new, it reflects a change in their physical brain by creating new neural pathways that give instructions to their body on how to perform a new task.
The growing understanding of and interest in brain plasticity is driving a revolution in brain health and science. Scientists and institutions around the world are beginning to look at plasticity- based therapies for treating a wide range of cognitive disorders. Not only can regular brainpower and health be improved, but also new ways are being learned to treat a variety of conditions including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and chronic pain. Programs based on brain plasticity use the brain’s natural learning mechanisms and lessen requirements for invasive procedures or drug therapies.
Keep your brain young, healthy and functioning. Exercise, proper nutrition and adequate sleep are essential. Adopt a positive philosophy of life and develop good relations, not only with family and friends, but with all you meet. Welcome and seek out new challenges and adventures and become a life-long learner.
If you are concerned about declining cognitive function in yourself or someone you love, please call Amber in our Ventura office at 805-644-0461 and make an appointment with me for an evaluation. Your brain (and body) will thank you!