The Brain And Brain Plasticity

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The brain and how it changes is often referred to as brain plasticity. The brain obviously isn't made out of plastic, but the idea that it can change throughout one's life makes it “plastic”. Meaning, just like actual plastic, the brain can be changed and molded. There are generally three ways the brain changes. First, the brain is able to organize itself when it is growing, for example, when a baby is born the brain assembles itself. Second, the brain undergoes neuroplasticity when is suffers a brain injury and it is able to accommodate for loss of brain function. Lastly, the brain is plastic throughout adulthood whenever something new is being learned or memorized. The two types of brain plasticity are functional and structural. Functional plasticity refers to the brain’s ability to move “functions” from one damaged area of the brain to other undamaged areas. When a person has a brain injury, wherever the damage has occurred, loss of ability to perform a task or do something happens. Because our brains have functional plasticity, healthy parts of our brain can take over those abilities and certain functions can be restored. For example, a person could have a brain injury that causes them to lose their ability to use their right hand. Neurons can reorganize and form new connections through undamaged neurons and new pathways are developed. Through rehabilitation and relearning how to use their right hand, they could regain the use of that hand. Structural plasticity refers to the brain’s ability to actually change its “structure” after new learning has occurred. Through practice, having new experiences and even environmental stimulation, we can change the brain’s physical structure. For example, if you are learning a new skill,... ... middle of paper ... ...w skill in a short amount of time. Although I had not learned this skill as young as other competitive swimmers, and I may have learned it more quickly because I was still young, it was the repeated practice and exposure to the skill that allowed my brain to perform this new skill. I went on to take my experience of learning how to do a land summersault to performing a flip-turn in the water. It took lots of practice and repetition to master this skill, but believing that I wasn’t too old to learn how to do a summersault allowed me to show that my brain was able to try and to succesfully learn something new. Luckily for me, our brains are myelin producing, especially in childhood, which allowed me to master the skill of summersaults. I often think back to my personal experience with learning how to do a flip-turn to challenge the idea that we can’t learn new things.

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