There’s a lot of interest in the brain’s ability to change through the work of psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Norman Doidge who has written extensively on the brain’s plasticity, referred to as neuroplasticity.
From the 1990’s onwards the research into neuroplasticity exploded and brain scans revealed that increased learning can lead to great increases in plasticity and new connections all over the brain. Appreciating the brain’s ability to learn helps us understand the potential for greater creative processes in our lives.
The principle of neuroplasticity is the power to create new pathways in the conscious or unconscious parts of our brain. It refers to ‘any enduring change in a neuron function or structure’, and is used to refer to changes from behaviour to gene expression and everything ‘neural’ in-between.
This recent research has shown that under the right circumstances, the power of brain plasticity can help adult minds grow. Although certain brain functions tend to decline with age, there are steps people can take to tap into plasticity and reinvigorate that machinery. These circumstances include focused attention, determination, hard work and maintaining overall brain health.
The brain can change through dedicated practice. Similarly, we can teach an older brain new information to slow age related mental decline. A lifetime of experiences reorganises the structure of the brain and points to skills we can master to be more creative in all aspects of life.