In an inspiring research-based TEDx Talk, Dr. Lara Boyd describes how neuroplasticity gives us the power to shape the brain we want.
Dr. Boyd’s efforts are leading to the development of more effective therapeutics for individuals with brain damage, but they are also shedding light on broader uses. Through learning new concepts, you are physically changing who you are, and opening up a world of endless possibilities.
Here's a summary of the great lecture:
(the full video is embedded at the end of the summary)
What is the best way to learn and why do some people learn faster than others?
There is no doubt that brain research is one of the great frontiers of science. It will affect our lives in ways that can't be described or even imagined yet.
25 years ago, it was discovered that the brain can be changed through neuroplasticity. It was previously thought that the brain stopped changing after puberty, but it turns out that the adult brain can change as well. Our behaviors change our brains and our brains change our behaviors so we can constantly learn new things.
How does the brain change?
The brain can change in three different ways, usually though they occur at the same time.
- Chemically - Actions and reactions in the brain are how you can change the way you remember and learn in the short term.
- Brain Structure - When we are learning the connection between neurons can develop and open new neural pathways. This helps with developing long-term memory and motor skills and can also lead to integrated networks for specific learning.
- Function - The more we use a specific neural network, the stronger that network becomes. Practicing and using the brain solidifies its networks and makes them stronger.
These three brain changes together support learning and are possible due to the X Factor of our brain - Neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity and Brain Recovery
What limits and facilitates neuroplasticity? Why can't we use the brain's neuroplasticity to recover from brain injury such as stroke?
Neuroplasticity comes from behavior. We need to practice and practice in order to learn. But this is expensive and time-consuming. So, without hours and hours of new learning and practice, how can one establish brain learning and therapy?
There are neural markers assigned to specific people and they each learn differently. By understanding these markers we can streamline learning for individuals.
However, nothing is as effective as practice. You have to do the work and increase the struggle if you want to increase the learning. There is not one approach to learning, there isn't one single unique intervention to reshape the brain. Each individual needs a tailor-made solution for personal care, but the most important thing to remember is that any one of us can do it!
Dr. Lara Boyd is positioned at the cutting edge of these discoveries. In 2006, she was recruited by the University of British Columbia to become the Canada Research Chair in Neurobiology and Motor Learning. Since that time she has established the Brain Behavior Lab, recruited and trained over 40 graduate students, published more than 80 papers and been awarded over $5 million in funding.