Among the several capabilities of the world’s most complex system, the human brain is one other known as brain plasticity. Also called neuroplasticity, this is the ability of the brain to re-wire itself. That is to say, the brain can change as and how it experiences events, finds Curtis Cripe. An example of this, he cites is the ability of the central nervous system to alter and accordingly adapt to certain external stimuli. This is how certain damaged parts of the brain can be restored and healed after an injury.
Doctors and researchers believe that the brain’s plasticity does not begin after a child is born. It is in fact, something that starts even before the child’s birth. This plasticity continues to get enhanced as one reaches adulthood and learns and memorizes ideas and concepts.
This ability of the brain to regenerate is what makes it different from a computer that is not able to process any sensory or motor signals. It is by re-routing signals that the brain can do this. The neural pathways in the brain imitate the functions of other pathways that are not damaged and thereby correcting the damage that occurred in a particular part.
Curtis Cripe the head of the NTL group and his team of doctors find it surprising to know that severe brain issues such as the effects of the Zika virus can also be rectified by the brain if it is given proper conditions. Though it may not be able to recover all the functioning perfectly yet, it does succeed in recovering at least some of them.
The development of some new connections because of this trait of the brain is known as synaptic reorganization. This forms the basis of brain plasticity and this is made possible only when the nervous system along with the brain is provided with the right kind of stimulation.
This stimulation can be produced through certain brain exercises and re-training the brain. This will eventually help the brain regain some of the functions that degenerate due to age. This is what helps in regaining the functionality of the brain when someone is affected by Schizophrenia or dementia notes Curtis Cripe.
It is also found that when one sense of the body is damaged some other sense becomes more active than usual. For example, anyone who has lost the sense of sight will have a strong sense of smell. This is because of the re-wiring tendency of the brain or in other words, by forming new neural connections.
Changes made in the environment of someone affected by some damage in any part of the brain help re-wire these connections easily. This is the reason, things like music therapy, training in virtual environments, and training the brain by carrying out certain physical movements, helps it regain certain sensory motor skills.
Thus, though the establishment of the brain’s basic structure is because of the genes and happens much before birth, it is through developmental plasticity that the brain developed due to the changes in the synaptic connections and the neurons.