“Neuroplasticity is the property of the brain that enables it to change its own structure and functioning in response to activity and mental experience.”
― Norman Doidge, The Brain's Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity
Contrary to the old saying, which implies that adults or elderly are set in their ways and unable to learn new skills, brain researchers have found that the brain and many parts of the nervous system are malleable, adaptable and receptive at any point in life, not just during childhood.
This concept is known as neuroplasticity, referring to a plasticity, or mold-ability of the quality of the tissues in the nervous system.
Change does not always come easy, but because of nueroplasticity, those of us, regardless of age are very encouraged to know that with work to grow, we can learn new skills and replace long lasting habits with brand new healthier ones.
The science of this aspect of human biology couldn’t be more timely. In this time of rapid change, so many of us can benefit from reshaping our brains and perceptions. From workers needing to learn new skills, people needing to learn new languages, and those just wanting to improve their confidence and mental wellbeing…..the possibilities are endless for anyone!
One of my favorite studies highlighting neuroplasticity is when NASA mandated a group of astronauts to wear special convex goggles 24/7 that literately flipped their world upside down. They wanted to test how spatial distortions would effect their brain. At first the astronauts were ill, but soon adjusted. But between the 26th and 30th day of the experiment, each one of the astronauts began to see the world normal again with the convex goggles still on! The pathways in their brains had flipped the images.
This study proves that in order for a new habit to become easier, we need to stick with it for at least 30 days continuously. After 90 days of continuous action it becomes more “second nature”.