In The Scientific American Brave New Brain: How Neuroscience, Brain-Machine Interfaces, Neuroimaging, Psychopharmacology, Epigenetics, the Internet, and … and Enhancing the Future of Mental Power, Judith Horstman writes “We’ve learned more about the brain in the past fifty years than in the preceding fifty thousand, and the cooperation of sciences over the next two decades may even surpass that record.”  According to Sharpbrains, a leading market research firm, the digital brain health market will grow to $1 Billion by the end of this year, and likely to $6 Billion by 2020.  Information about how to maintain a healthy brain and how it influences our lives for better or worse is exponentially different than what was thought to be even a decade ago.

In their book, Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-Being, Deepak Chopra M.D. and Rudolph E. Tanzi Ph. D. combine cutting edge research and spiritual wisdom to dispel long standing myths about the “three-pound universe” in our skulls. The five most widespread brain myths are:

Myth 1 – The injured brain cannot heal itself – Now we know that the brain has amazing powers of healing, unsuspected in the past.

Study after study has confirmed that,when neurons and synapses are lost due to injury, neighboring neurons  undergo “compensatory regeneration” trying to reestablish connection replacing the damaged neural network.  Through neuroplasticity,changes in neural pathways and synapses due to behavior, environment and thoughts, your brain is constantly remodeling itself.  The authors describe neuroplasticity as: “if a rose were plucked from a bush, and the bush next to it handed it a new rose.”  Neuroplasticity takes place every day in healthy brains too.

The authors write:

Neuroplasticity is better than mind over matter.  It’s mind turning into matter as your thoughts create new neural growth. In the early days, the phenomenon was scoffed at and neuroscientists were belittled for using the term neuroplasticity. …. Neuroplasticity overcame a rough start to become a star.

Myth 2 – The brain’s hardwiring cannot be changed. – In fact, the line between hard and soft wiring is shifting all the time and our ability to rewire our brains remains intact from birth to the end of life.

Hebbs law, “neurons that fire together, wire together,” means that as brain regions interact in novel ways, fresh circuits are created.  In everyday life, if a  person learns a new skill, exposes themselves to a different environment or experience, or does familiar things in unfamiliar ways, their brain responds by rewiring and improving itself.

The authors conclude:

The bottom line is that we are not “hardwired.”  Our brains are incredibly resilient; the marvelous process of neuroplasticity gives you the capability, in your thoughts, feelings, and actions, to develop in any direction you choose.

Myth 3 – Aging in the brain is inevitable and irreversible. – To counter this outmoded belief, new techniques for keeping the brain youthful and retaining mental acuity are arising every day.

With age, people tend to simplify life, limiting mental and physical activity and reducing new experiences as they retreat into their comfort zone.  This lifestyle paves the way for decline of both the mind and brain.

The authors stress:

You can choose to follow an upward learning curve no matter how old you are.  By doing so, you will create new dendrites, synapses, and neural pathways that enhance the health of your brain and even help stave off Alzheimer’s disease (as suggested by the latest research findings).

Myth 4 – The brain loses millions of cells a day, and lost brain cells cannot be replaced. – In fact, the brain contains stem cells that are capable of maturing into new brain cells throughout life.

According to the book, our brains lose around 85,000 cortical neurons per day or about one per second.  While this may sound like a lot, it is only .0002 of the 40 billion neurons in your cerebral cortex. “At this rate, it would take more than 600 years to lose half of the neurons in our brain!”

According to Chopra and Tanzi:

The bottom line for now is that as we age, key areas of the brain involved with memory and learning continue to produce new nerve cells, and that this process can be stimulated by physical exercise, mentally stimulating activities (like reading this book), and social connectedness.

Myth 5 – Primitive reactions (fear, anger jealousy, aggression) overrule the higher brain.  – Because our brains are imprinted with genetic material over thousands of generations, the lower brain is still with us, generating primitive and often negative drives like fear and anger.  But the brain is constasntly evolving, and we have gained the ability to master the lower brain through choice and free will.

The brain is a multidimensional entity with checks and balances between desire, restraint, and compulsion.  The sentiment of the authors is:

Accepting that biology is destiny defeats the whole purpose of being human…  But surely to label human beings as puppets of animal instinct is wrong, in the first place because it is so unbalanced.  The higher brain is just as legitimate, powerful, and evolutionary as the lower brain….  The choice is always there.

 With the new information available to us dispelling these long held brain myths, anyone can take control of and transform their life by doing the same with their brain.

The stakes are very high when it comes to letting your brain use you.  But if you start to use it instead, the rewards are unlimited.”

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10 Comments

  1. Judy M. Hampton Reply

    Again, well done, darling daughter. A good reminder that I need to get back to exercise and take another class. Love, Mom

  2. I’ve liked that concept (neuroplasticity) ever since you introduced me to the word in a previous article. I’m more directly involved in the technology emerging used to “map consciousness” – fMRI and such. I’m also still trying to understand to what extent (if any) consciousness requires a nervous system. I mean, plants don’t have them, but they are alive. I “sense” them. Do they have consciousness?

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Plants do, indeed, have some sort of consciousness. In her book, The Intention Experiment, Lynn McTaggart tells of a study done by Cleve Backster in which he put electrodes on plants to measure response like a polygraph test. Not only did the plant register alarm when its leaf was burnt, it recorded alarm just at the thought of it! According to the polygraph, the plant perceived the thought as a direct threat. The plants also showed responses to other stimuli. Pretty wild!

  3. Hi Debbie,

    I found #2 and #3 fascinating. The whole key is to keep learning, trying new things, and doing things differently. That’s a positive kick in the pants.

  4. Debbie Hampton Reply

    Hi Sandra,

    You gotta love anything that’s a “positive kick in the pants!” With the current information about the brain, we are all so much more accountable for the lives we create. That motivates me!

  5. Bev Pember Reply

    Hi Debbie,
    Always fascinated by brain info and emerging trends. Suffered several ischemic strokes 7 years ago. Had quadriplegia and was written off by the majority of the therapists. Walk with a walker and have poor balance. Luckily, all infarcts missed my cognitive and language centers, so I keep trying to improve. I know it’s all in there, had it for 46 years, it just needs to “remember” what good balance felt like. Any feedback, ideas, etc, would be most welcomed. An advantage if being an RN is that I can explain things to therapists and understand their suggestions.

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Bev, thank you for reading and commenting. Of course, while I do not know anything about your case specifically, I can tell you that I have been working with a stroke suvivor who has benefitted tremendously from Posit’s Brain Fitness Program as did I. I did it several times through until I didn’t see any improvement anymore, but the first time was dramatic. He and I both experienced serious improvements with it.

      Also, I would think that walking as much as you can with your walker would help because what you need to do is neuroplastically get the brain mapped again for movement. Also, neurofeedback ( https://thebestbrainpossible.com/a-mood-ring-for-the-mind-2) helped me tremendously with my physical rehabilitation and Brainwave Optimization (http://www.brainstatetech.com/) was incredibly healing for me as well.

      To help with balance, I would suggest yoga. It will help with coordination and core strength required to walk and balance. I know some therapeutic yogas exist where you can use a chair or the poses are modified accordingly. Yoga has helped me tremendously.

      Bottom line is NEVER GIVE UP. Keep trying until you find something that works and it is different for everyone. You may put your question out to this page on Facebook and see what advise other stroke survivors have for you. I am an active participant on here. Good stuff! https://www.facebook.com/Strokessuck?fref=ts

  6. mid summer Reply

    I absolutely love your blog and find almost all of your post’s to be what precisely I’m looking for. Would you offer guest writers to write content to suit your needs? I wouldn’t mind composing a post or elaborating on a number of the subjects you write regarding here. Again, awesome website!

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Thank you for your kind words. 🙂 Sure, I would welcome guest posts. Do you currently have a blog or sample writings and a topic in mind? Message me at dbird1@triad.rr.com.

  7. Pingback: Take Care Of Your Brain, And It Will Take Care Of You - The best brain possible

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