The principles of neuroplasticity date back hundreds of years. In the 1790s, an Italian anatomist Michele Vicenzo Malacarne performed experiments that show the earliest understanding of brain plasticity. Malacarne would obtain two animals, one of the pair would be trained extensively for years while the other would not be trained at all. He would then dissect the two animals to compare their anatomy. In his findings, he noted that the cerebellums of the trained animals were significantly larger than their untrained counterparts.
Sadly, Malacarne’s findings went unnoticed and were soon forgotten. Nearly one hundred years later, in 1890, William James proposed that the human brain was capable of growth and learning throughout adulthood in his book The Principles of Psychology, but his work also went mostly unnoticed and forgotten as well. It wasn’t until the 1970s that neuroscientists finally came to accept the principles of neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity is the principle that the brain can continue to learn and develop throughout a person’s life. Previously, it was believed that all brain development occurs in childhood and adolescence. Neuroplasticity is best known as a treatment for various neurological conditions and disorders, such as brain injuries, neurodegenerative disorders, learning disabilities, and movement disorders, but few know the implications that neuroplasticity can have on an otherwise healthy brain.
You may have seen commercials for brain-training games. These utilize the idea that presenting your brain with increasingly difficult tasks helps your brain to improve cognitive ability. While there is evidence that brain-training games can improve cognitive ability, the benefits generally are slight and domain-specific. This means that a memory game will improve memory, and only memory… not decision making, spatial awareness, etc. Evidence also supports that brain-training games are more likely to maintain cognitive ability in the ways that reading, solving puzzles, and playing any game that requires hand-eye coordination do. That’s not to say that there aren’t concrete ways of increasing cognitive ability.
A functional neurologist is trained in understanding how the brain works and how to use the brain’s own plasticity to increase cognitive performance, in multiple domains of function. At Plasticity Brain Centers, we help people to actualize their real potential with our brain optimization services. We have two optimization programs for healthy individuals, that can each be structured around the personal goals of the individual enrolled.
One of the two programs is based around boosting sports performance. Your athletic ability depends upon your senses, your ability to interpret the situation, and to decide on the appropriate actions based on your interpretation of the situation. This thought process is constantly cycling when playing sports, and the ability to streamline and be more effective at cycling through that thought process translates into increased sports performance on the field, court, pitch, etc.
The other program is based around cognitive performance. Your cognitive ability needs to be regularly challenged to increase cognitive performance. While things like reading and playing games can keep your brain from degrading as you age, to reach top cognitive performance in your prime you should work with a individualized program geared towards helping you reach your personal goals.
For more information on our brain optimization programs, to learn about how Plasticity Brain Centers can help those with brain injuries, developmental disorders, movement disorders, and neurodegenerative disorders, or to make an appointment with one of our professional functional neurologists, please contact us today.