Neuroplasticity: The brain’s natural ability to form new connections in order to make up for for injury or changes in the environment. The ability of the brain to reorganize pathways between neurons as a result of new experiences. (definition extracted from Stanford Webpage)
Image showing the neural connections in the brain of a newborn, a 3 month old, a 15 month old and a two year old child.
The hippocampus is at the front of the brain and was examined in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans on 16 London cabbies. The tests found the only area of the taxi drivers’ brains that was different from the 50 other “control” subjects was the left and right hippocampus (…) The posterior hippocampus was also more developed in taxi drivers who had been in the career for 40 years than in those who had been driving for a shorter period (…) “This is very interesting because we now see there can be structural changes in healthy human brains.”
BBC News World edition, Taxi drivers’ brains ‘grow’ on the job, Tuesday, 14 March, 2000, full article available here
A cab driver’s hippocampus — the part of the brain that holds spatial representation capacity — is measurably larger than that of a bus driver. By driving the same route every day, the bus drivers don’t need to exercise this part of the brain as much. The cabbies, on the other hand, rely on it constantly for navigation. If you were to restrict certain senses — like vision, for instance — your brain would make a similar adaptation. This great survival machine will rewire itself, opening neuro pathways to heighten the power of other senses to keep you from falling off a cliff or get eaten by a tiger.
Daniel Honan, Neuroplasticity: You Can Teach An Old Brain New Tricks, Big Think, full article available here
Neuroplasticity is what allows us to take our experiences, then learn from them and form new memories. Huge changes are occurring in the brain during these early stages of cognitive development, but the truth is that our neural networks continue to build on each other until the day we die (…) The more often neural pathways fire, the stronger the connections will become. This is called long-term potentiation, and it is the basis of all learning and memory formation (…) The big implication here is that if our brain changes itself based on our experiences, then by changing our experiences we can actively reshape our brains