Neuroscience: Neuroplasticity

The word “neuroplasticity” means that the brain can reorganize or repair itself by forming neural connections throughout our lives. Neuroplasticity is a prime example of the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Due to neuroplasticity, the brain is very resilient and has the ability to function properly even after it has been affected by a disease or injury.

There are a few ways to increase neuroplasticity and heal or protect the brain. It has been proven that even just thirty minutes of mild exercise (cycling or walking) can lead to a rise in neurochemicals which then encourages the development of new brain cells and new neural connections. Meditation can also incite neuroplasticity as it is “exercise” for the brain. It trains the brain to rest and relax and can even encourage stronger neural connections in certain parts of the brain. This is also why meditating has the ability to boost memory, increase attention spans, and improve decision-making.

Food choices also have the ability to affect neuroplasticity. The brain needs nutrients to create, preserve, and protect brain cells. Those nutrients also help with forming neurotransmitters and maintaining homeostasis on the body. It has been found that the flavonoids in dark chocolate and the polyphenols found in berries can encourage brain health. Furthermore, it has been found that blueberries specifically have the capability to increase blood flow to the brain. That can improve cerebral circulation which can prevent neurodegenerative disorders. Blueberries can also enhance brain activation which can combat the negative effects of oxidative stress. Memory tends to be better and cognition improves.

Brain games recently have gained a lot of attention as well. It is important to note that many of these well-known games have not gone through controlled trials. However, BrainHQ is one of the games that did go through a controlled trial. The results showed chances of increasing brain plasticity.

Other suggestions to improve neuroplasticity include reading books, getting quality sleep, and reducing stress. Essentially, the brain can regenerate itself due to neuroplasticity, but things can also be done in order to encourage it.