Neuroplasticity, the Holy Grail

Brain 1744 / Wellcome Images
Brain 1744 / Wellcome Images

From Oliver Sacks in the NYT:

"Neuroplasticity — the brain’s capacity to create new pathways — is a crucial part of recovery for anyone who loses a sense or a cognitive or motor ability....I have seen hundreds of patients with various deficits — strokes, Parkinson’s and even dementia — learn to do things in new ways, whether consciously or unconsciously, to work around those deficits."

This is why I spend so much time at the gym, doing blasted exercises. At present, scientists know that challenging exercise at huge levels of repetition can help rewire an injured brain. Neuroplasticity, rewiring, is the Holy Grail for stroke rehab. Hundreds of repetitions. Thousands.

But you normals have plasticity too. Ponder:

"That the brain is capable of such radical adaptation raises deep questions. To what extent are we shaped by, and to what degree do we shape, our own brains? And can the brain’s ability to change be harnessed to give us greater cognitive powers?"

This Year, Change Your Mind, NYT 12.31.10