As a non-traditional student, I can’t begin to tell you how happy I was when I came across this article by Richard Nantel, CEO of Brandon Hall Research, in OLDaily! Nantel comments on a book entitled, “The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science,” written by Dr. Norman Doidge and to which Stephen Downes provided an audio link.
The good news is that scientists are favoring a theory that the brain is a more adaptable organ that was previously thought. In the past common belief held that if an area of the brain was injured, the memory or functioning abilities contained therein were lost. Current research is focusing on the possiblity of training other areas of the brain to take over the functions of damaged areas.
To demonstrate the adaptability of the human body, an example is given about the agony of a “couch potato” if he or she were forced to run for 30 minutes. The first few days of this type of exercise would be miserable. But, within a couple of weeks, he or she will be running with relative ease and will get stronger with regular exercise.
Research findings in brain plasticity, or neuroplasticity as it is also called, indicate that the brain may have similar adaptabilities. Evidence exists that learning new skills builds new neural connections and structures. According to Doidge’s book, the key to this process is to immerse ourselves in new hobbies or activities every two years. He compares the way muscles adapt to lifting heavy loads over a span of time to the idea that doing the same activities over and over having a limiting effect on neural development.
This all makes sense to me.