When it’s brain based it’s evident in our actions that chemical and electrical circuitry work in our favor and benefit those around us.
Good ideas may get crushed by bullies, cynics or naysayers, but brain based actions open us to benefits from new insights. What we do literally alters the brain to do more of that thing. Yes, brainpower is fluid. Before Michael Merzenich became the world’s leading researcher on brain plasticity, cynics with hard science credentials, insisted brainpower and intelligence was fixed.
Simply put, people insisted that elderly brains don’t change much, for instance, and that broken brains stay broke. In reality, what we DO in a day literally changes our brain. That’s how plasticity boosts brainpower to tackle current challenges and learn from one another.
Thanks to persistence, and the power of our brain’s structure and operation we can learn at all ages as we increase our brain’s capacity to learn. Plasticity opens a winning pathway to innovation and creativity, which is especially good news if you crave new opportunities, a renewed relationship, or a new you. How does it work?
Neurons come with 3 cool parts, connected to chemical and electrical circuitry that can spark innovative mental change or deepen our propensity for ruts. The brain operates dendrites, cell bodies, and axons in the following ways.
1). Dendrites –or treelike branches attached to the cell body, receive their input from our other neurons.
2). Cell body – fuels the life of each cell and contain our unique DNA pool.
3). Axon – like electrical wires that can be short or can be 6 feet long, and carry electrical impulses at speeds from 2 to 200 mph toward the dendrites of other neurons.
Neurons receive signals that either excite or inhibit. If a neuron gets enough excitatory signals from other neurons, it fires off its own signal. If it receives many inhibitory signals – it is less likely to fire.
Axons don’t quite touch nearby dendrites. They are separated by microscopic space called a synapse. When an electrical signal reaches the end of an axon, it triggers release of the chemical messenger, called a neurotransmitter, into the synapse. The chemical messenger sails over the dendrite of nearby neuron, exciting or inhibiting Neurons rewire in REM sleep, based on what we did that day. Emphasis is on action here, as that is what changes the brain and kicks new neural pathways into action.
Neurons rewire nightly as we sleep – which means that changes occur at the synapse. Act calm under pressure, for instance, and we build new neuron pathways to calmly solve the next calamity that comes along. Either the change strengthens and increases the number of connections or change weakens and decreases the number of connections between the neurons.
It’s really a matter of neurons and dendrites that spark new synapses for change. Remember, a neuron‘s nothing more than a nerve cell, and our brain holds about 100 billion of these little critters.
Neurons build innovation impetus with a few carefully crafted actions. How so?
Neurons project extensions called dendrite brain cells – which connect and reconnect daily, based on what we do. Axons, in contrast, relay information back from the body and into our brain. In a rather complex electrochemical process, neurons communicate with each other in synapses, and that connection creates chemicals called neurotransmitters. Chemicals release at each synapse, and these shape mood, open brains to optimize learning and stoke creative solutions to complex problems. Many mysteries still occur in the quadrillion synapses within a human brain, and yet wonderful benefits await people who act on what recent research suggests.
How will you change your brain today?
Simply do something we’d like others to see in us, such as change up routines, and the brain’s circuitry does the rest. When we take novel approaches we sidestep deeply entrenched ruts inside our brains. Have you seen it happen?
Good news if we encounter questionable leadership. Transformation such as ethical renewal will add dividends for all, and the brain helps us to takes risk to make improvements happen. Try one moral action you’d least like do in an ordinary day, and expect a mind-bending performance along plasticity’s pathway to innovation.
In Dr. Norman Doidge’s new book, The Brain that Changes Itself, we see story after story about the brain’s ability to rewire itself, really count. The book inspired us to ask, “What could we do differently today to optimize our brain’s plasticity?” How will we ratchet up more brainpower to overcome challenging situations?
Stories often pinpoint our best and our worst of times. When we share stories of money and health problems daily, toxic cortisol follows to create a potent reason to go down with the trends. Other more hopeful stories may brim over with hope for a wider reach, regardless of setbacks. Have you noticed? Our brains take their cues from stories we chase.
Narrative that focuses on gloom, without hints of hope – leaves us giving up, and running on cortisol highs. Brainpower drops like an air balloon shot out of the sky – because toxic cortisol chemicals surge through clefts in your brain to stick it to you.
Recession proves it daily! Horror stories that media use to raise its coffers, diminish our collective brainpower. Brainpower to turn them around and offer possibilities for a finer future.
In the midst of despair, we admire folks who find ways to tell another kind of story. One that spots solutions, plays with novel ideas, and fuels innovative outcomes. Live and share a serotonin driven story, and brain-powered chemicals rush in to make it happen for all who buy into the tale.
Brainpower escalates us with one story, yet sinks us with another. Check out these two stories to see how it happens.
The first is a serotonin segue:
Narrative traces the steps of heroes to show how innovation can win over its fiercest enemies. Paul Bach-y-Rita, famous for his work in neuroplasticity, discovered that his father’s crippling stoke in New York was incurable, and still he refused to give up. Language and mobility were gone forever, experts claimed, yet Paul vowed to help his father heal.
Are you drawn to those who target a finer place, when challenges strike? Or do you find yourself locked in a lonely, and losing tunnel – looking for lights in so much dark?
The second is a cortisol segue:
After a month’s therapy and little progress, medical experts assured the family they could do no more, and suggested Bach-y-Rita enter an institution. Brains cannot repair themselves, medical specialists argued, which meant nothing else could help their 65 year old father to walk or talk again.
Is yours the innovative story of Bach-y-Rita seeking healing, or is it the hopeless tale of medical experts giving up?
It seemed the serotonin story won:
All seemed lost to those who looked on at the family’s tragedy. After all, who ever heard of a brain that repairs itself after a serious stroke? The respected scholar, Bach-y-Rita, spiraled down from well respected professor at City College in NY to complete dependency on others for his basic needs.
Look again though, at the serotonin story:
One son George brought his Papa back to Mexico and began to teach him to crawl again. Using the wall to support his limp shoulder, Bach-y-Rita, inched along clumsily for months, as he and his sons created marble games to play on the floor that required a reach and movement.
Back up to the cortisol crank’s tale:
Cynics in medical schools warned that this was wasted time, and neighbors criticized the Bach-y-Rita family when their papa crawled outside, saying, “They are treating this old man like a dog.” Yet brainpower prevailed.
Another line from serotonin’s yarn:
With every spark of progress, the grown sons of Bah-y-Rita persisted more to help their papa do acts on the opposite side of his weakness and loss. Little was known until recently about how the brain changes itself whenever you act opposite a weakness. Yet it makes sense that this mind-bending discovery came to a person who sought solutions, and refused to give up
Check out the brain-powered story from these two:
Progress came slowly, and Paul observed how his father’s brain reorganized itself to take over where damaged parts had destroyed his ability to walk and talk. After many months of crawling and sputtering syllables, new life came. New neuron pathways for language and mobility remapped in different areas, to replace damaged brain cells. After a miraculous recovery, Bach-y-Rita returned to teach at City College in New York, at 68, three years following his stroke.
Concluding narrative – When your story holds onto hope, anything can happen. You can improve your life in its most difficult areas, and reshape prosperity, through the magical story of reshaped brainpower. When you simply act and persist, as Bach-y-Rita did, on the other side of loss.
What’s your story, and where will it lead? The younger son, Paul’s life was shaped by a narrative he described as seeing with our brains and not our eyes. He told a tale that led to his papa’s brain reorganizing itself for renewal.
Serotonin stories hold innovative tools for your future. Paul Bach-y-Rita went on to explain a great deal of the research in areas of plasticity – that equips brains to rewire and remap in other areas. He found life-changing solutions where cynics and naysayers saw only doom and disaster.
Cortisol stories hold you back. After all, who leaps at the mediocrity and disbelief of mainstream experts? Or who’s inspired by the yarns that fail to win tangible results from bureaucrats?
Paul Bach-y-Rita would be the first serotonin story-teller to remind you of the wonder of your brain’s plasticity. He’d show how our brain can reorganize itself to become the life-changing solution you seek today.
What serotonin story could we share to inspire action on the other side of weakness, until brainpower remaps mental strength?
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Created by Ellen Weber, Brain Based Tasks for Growth Mindset