Actually, not having your brain working is what this is all about and what we are discovering is that much disease that you would not associate with your brain is now considered brain based. I’ll try and make this understandable in case your brain is already rebelling.
Neuroplasticity is something that we are all conscious of. For example, you want to learn to play a song on the piano. At first it is difficult. You must practice so that your brain connects your ears and what they are hearing to muscles in your fingers. Every time we learn anything, whether it be something physical, some form of knowledge, some form of emotion, our brain is restructuring itself. Our ability to respond to intrinsic or extrinsic stimuli by reorganizing it’s structure and therefore it’s function by making new connections is neuroplasticity.
So what is that good for? Besides the obvious, which is how a stroke victim retrains the brain to regain function that was once considered permanently lost, it comes in handy for a whole bunch of cool things. We can’t experience personal growth, mentally or physically without it. There is a saying in neurology, neurons that fire together wire together. As a baby, maybe your parents through a beach ball at you. It hit you in the face enough times for you to finally connect enough neurons in your brain between your eye, your cerebellum, your parietal cortex and your arms so that the ball no longer hit you in the face and you caught it. That’s how we learn. On a microscopic level it looks like pimples popping. That is what it looks like when the ends of the nerves connect. Whether you are learning an instrument, a foreign language, a sport, we grow as humans because neuroplasticity is what makes us human.
Now for the bad news. This is also the mechanism for chronic pain. Long after the tissue damage has healed, the pain signals persist. Your body learned a new song and it is chronic pain. Last year tens of thousands of people died because of this and their inability to choose a doctor that would not give them heroin. People with chronic pain are experiencing this pain in their brain. It truly is all in their head, except it is very real.
Here are some important considerations for maintaining a healthy brain. Believe it or not, good posture affects your brain much more than you think it does. Good posture requires complex multisensory integration and sensorimotor coordination. The brain craves complexity. Going to the gym is important, but what we now know is that working large muscle groups does not activate your brain as much as small complex movements. These intricate movements change the mapping of our brains neurons more profoundly. So a specificity of exercise produces the best results. Our mood has a significant factor regarding how well we make new neural connections. If we are alert, engaged, and motivated while performing postural exercises, neurochemicals that are necessary to increase brain change become more abundant.
We can ramp up our nervous system with extra sensory stimulus such as heat or cold to one side of the body, vibration, balancing, etc. Anything that adds sensory stimulation is good. Being alert, having good sleep hygiene are fundamental to neural capacity. When trying to change your brain, keep in mind that the first time you do something new, your brain is considering on whether it should keep this new skill. Hence, practice to make it permanent. They say you don’t forget how to ride a bicycle. That is because you focused so hard not to fall over when first attempting it.
A study of students that actually shot a basketball as opposed to only thinking about shooting the ball produced almost the same results. The students that never actually shot the ball had almost the same shooting percentage as the kids that were shooting the ball. I attribute my ability to come back to my level of tennis after months of recovering from an injury almost instantly is because while people think I’m listening to them, I’m visualizing myself on the court having a great day. I put that sentence in here to see if you were paying attention. I’m listening to you, but I’m also playing tennis in my head.
A healthy brain also requires aerobic exercise. Neurotrophic molecules increase with more blood flow. Performance feedback during training also helps increase the rate of neuroplasticity.
The take away here is that our brains are not the static mass that we were taught in medical school up to the 80’s. It is a dynamic system of neural networks that can grow significantly with correct favorable conditions. It is much easier to have negative neuroplasticity. That is where our brains atrophy. It takes constant use to keep our brains working optimally. Sitting all day in front of a computer is destroying our brains on a few different levels. The most optimum stimulus for a human nervous system is gravity. We are seeing a decline in children’s mentation because they no longer participate in gravity. Instead of actually catching a ball in space and time in all 4 dimensions, remember time is considered a dimension, they are catching a ball on a computer screen which is obviously not the same.
The human nervous system developed because it had stimulus. There is only one constant stimulus on earth and that is gravity. Our spines are the first thing to develop after an egg is fertilized. The spine is innervated with gravity receptors. We use gravitational energy to power up our brains. Light can power your eyeballs, but doesn’t do much for your ears. Sound powers your ears, but there is not always a Mozart concert playing. The best stimulus for our nervous system is gravity. One reason why people that do yoga are healthier than people that don’t. One of the most optimal ways to power up your brain is with a fast stretch de cavitation of the gravity receptors around the zygapophyseal joints. That thing that chiropractors do.