Change is all around us!


Change is all around us!

If like me, you have noticed that things appear to be changing quicker than ever before and have a feeling that it’s challenging to keep up with it all; e.g. technology, global politics to name a few items – you may take some comfort in knowing that our brains have been shaped by evolution to adapt and re-adapt to this ever-changing world we live in.

When we focus on learning new things or new ways of doing things, our brains grow. The size of the cortex, the length of neurons, the number of synapses, and the level of neurotransmitters and growth hormones increases. So we can make ourselves brainier, as such!

The ability to learn is dependent on modification of the brain’s chemistry and architecture, in a process called “neural plasticity”.

What is “neural plasticity” or “neuroplasticity”.?

Neural plasticity reflects the ability of neurons to change their structure and relationships to one another in an experience-dependent manner according to environmental demands. It means that everything you think you know and feel now, can change for better or worse depending on what you focus on.

How can we make it attractive to learn?

There are many ways to make it attractive to learn. Here are two suggestions:

1) Recognize the importance of learning for the longevity of your memory: Reading Norman Doidge’s book “The Brain That Changes Itself ” will inspire you.

2) Think back to when you were a child. Many of us liked making up stories and playing games together and generally using your imagination. This is how we learned as children, and believe it or not, this is how we learn as adults. Learning needs to be engaging, fun and full of “imagining the possibilities”. Experts and researchers (e.g. Caine and Caine, 1990) all over the world have found that brains grow best in the context of interactive discovery and through the co-creation of stories, that shape and support memories of what is being learned. Learning together in teams and groups therefore has a lot of benefits and long-term impact.

As adults it’s easy to get stuck thinking, “you can’t teach and old dog new tricks’. Actually we can learn new things; it just takes a more concerted effort than when we were children. What can you do today to help your brain learn and adapt and have some fun doing it?

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