The Top 3 Neuroplasticity Examples: Uses, Applications & Brief Historical Overview

The Top 3 Neuroplasticity Examples: Uses, Applications & Brief Historical Overview

Up until the late 1940s, no one in the science community had a concrete explanation of how humans were able to adapt to new circumstances, relearn certain abilities and functions, and even recover from certain brain-related illnesses. Luckily, in 1948 Jerzy Konorski, a neuroscientist, first coined the term “neuroplasticity” to define the way the neurons in the brain could modify themselves and create new connections[1]. In the years since the concept of neuroplasticity was first introduced, major strides have been made within the neuroscience community and our understanding of plasticity and how to best use it. Today we are going to take a journey back in time to break down the scientific evolution and our understanding of brain plasticity to discover some of the top examples of how neuroplasticity is being applied today. 

A Brief History and Background of Neuroplasticity

Before the concept of neuroplasticity was officially presented, neuroscientists observed how the brain can adapt when faced with illness or injury for many years. Several scientists, such as Santiago Ramón y Cajal, noticed that the human brain is ever changing and adapting, even into adulthood. Cajal was one of the first scientists to discuss neural plasticity in the late 1800s and he went on to pioneer many of the first theories about neurons, their structure, and the way they communicate[2].

Later on in the 1960s, there were breakthroughs in the research of brain plasticity and the way neuron reorganization takes place when necessary. For many years, even after neuroplasticity was discovered, it was widely believed that there was only a fixed amount of neurons in the brain and that they stopped forming synaptic connections once an individual reached young adulthood. We now know that this is totally untrue, and that new neurons can form throughout life and that neuroplasticity can always be utilized – this phenomenon is known as neurogenesis.

Common Applications of Neuroplasticity, and How it’s Being Used Today 

Neuroplasticity is clearly a fascinating subject, especially when we take a closer look at the many ways in which it can be applied to our lives. Neuroplasticity might sound complicated or as if it can only be utilized in dire situations, but neurons are always forming and it’s a process that takes place consistently throughout our lives. Any time you learn a new skill or practice to improve in a particular skill, neuroplasticity is taking place. Our minds are constantly evolving and adapting, but we can also use neuroplasticity in precise ways to aid with remarkable feats of healing and recovery.

Healing and Recovery

When neuroplasticity and its numerous benefits were finally discovered, it was initially applied to help those that suffered from strokes and other brain injuries. For instance, when someone has a stroke, there can be lasting impairments on their motor function and speech abilities. There has been a lot of research focusing on those that have suffered from strokes and how neuroplasticity can come into play and help with rewiring their brains, activating new and different pathways to bypass permanently damaged areas. In a scientific review, published in 2011, discussed how neuroplasticity can be applied to alleviate symptoms that occur after a stroke or brain injury, as well as to help maintain healthy aging. The study outlined how regions in the brain that have been affected by stroke or other trauma that decreases motor function can accommodate and alter their networks[3]

Another study that was conducted in 2018 explored how neuroplasticity can help those with visual impairments by creating stronger connections in the synapses in other cortical regions, such as areas associated with smell, hearing, and touch[4]. These new connections allow for a higher degree of non-visual processing when the sense of sight is too impaired.

Military – Targeted Neuroplasticity Training

The military has been using neuroplasticity to help personnel retain new cognitive skills such as; language, target distinction, analytics, and cryptography. This specific use of neuroplasticity is recognized as targeted neuroplasticity training (TNT), and the military has found it to be beneficial to utilize it in particular instances where the brain is at its most receptive state to solidify the new neural connections and secure the newly presented information, which allows for safer training with a higher reception rate amongst military personnel[5].

Limbic System Impairment

The progression of neuroscience has allowed us to have a better understanding of how the brain functions and the precise ways in which brain plasticity can be utilized to improve the lives of those inflicted by chronic illnesses and brain injuries. One particular part of the brain, known as the limbic system, plays a key role in several vital brain operations – especially survival and memory formation. 

The limbic system is recognized as the area of the brain that is responsible for our instinctual fight-or-flight response, which helps keep us alert in stressful or dangerous situations. The limbic system can get stuck in this state, however, and an incessant negative feedback loop may occur well after the initial stimuli that triggered it is gone. When it becomes fixed in this state, conditions such as anxiety and depression may arise – and these can bring on a whole slew of other issues and symptoms. 

Neuroplasticity has been used in many instances to relieve the mind and body from an overactive limbic system, creating healthier and more stable neural connections that relax the overworked stress-related organs and systems, such as the adrenal glands.

To Bring it Full Circle

The discovery of neuroplasticity changed the course of history in an utterly remarkable way, as it can quite literally give people that have been affected by life-altering conditions their power and health back.These are just a few of the ways in which neuroplasticity can be applied directly in one’s life to facilitate quicker retention of information, to heal from traumatic brain injuries and illnesses, and to retrain and calm an overactive limbic system response. 

While everyone has neuroplastic capabilities throughout their lives, utilizing plasticity to one’s benefit requires a deep grasp on it’s concepts paired with precise application. This is why neuroplasticity training programs, like the one we offer here at re-origin®, are so very beneficial. Our training program can guide you each step of the way so that you can work to undo the cause behind your specific condition, whether it is chronic stress, PTSD, brain fog, insomnia, or Post Viral Fatigue.

re-origin® offers a supportive community to all of our members, which makes all the difference when navigating any healing journey. We believe that it’s imperative to always follow protocols that are backed by years of science, because this is when extraordinary improvements in our health and wellbeing can be made.

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References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16617679/
  2. https://positivepsychology.com/neuroplasticity/
  3. https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/134/6/1591/369496
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6322049/
  5. https://www.darpa.mil/program/targeted-neuroplasticity-training

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