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HKSYU PSY 1000 - Neuroplasticity

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Implications of neuroplasticity on everyday lifeWhat is neuroplasticity? Neuroplasticity refers to the ability of our brain to keep changing every day throughout our life span due to our emotions, newexperience and learning. The changes are accredited to the ability of neurons to grow new branches and lose old ones, to change efficiency of signaltransmission between existing neurons as well as to renew themselves through the production of new neurons. They all lead to changes in the establishment ofneuronal connections and hence facilitate the reorganization of different functional areas inside our brain, potentially accompanied by re-arrangement of bloodvessels in our brain.Today’s brain is not yesterday’s! The effects of neuroplasticity can easily be observed in our daily lives. One of them is, as the saying goes, “Practice makesperfect”. In fact, I was not good at Mathematics when I was studying in Primary 1. My calculation speed was very slow. However, my mother did not blame mebut encourage me, “My son! Do more exercises and you can do better”. I listened to her advice and spent more time on doing Mathematics exercises every day.As practice continued, my time spent on each Mathematics problem became shorter and shorter. After 6 years when I was about to graduate from my primaryschool, I became the top boy in Mathematics. In fact, as I spent more time on practicing Mathematics, the neurons in the regions of my brain which areresponsible for tackling Mathematics problems were stimulated more frequently and may eventually be induced to undergo certain changes including dendritegrowth, increase in spines density on each dendrite branch, increase in efficiency of signal transmission between synapse due to increase in production ofneurotransmitters in pre-synaptic neurons and receptors with longer opening time in post-synaptic neurons, increase in cortical tissue for handling the mentalprocesses involved in Mathematics problems solving through reorganization of cortical tissue function or production of new neurons, and increase in nutrientsupply via increased blood supply to those regions handling Mathematics problems. As a result, more effective neuronal connections may be established forMathematics problem solving, making my brain more adaptive to solve Mathematics problems as well as the problems encountered in my daily life that requiresimilar skills. “It’s not my cup of tea and I should give up” Many people think that their ability is predetermined and fixed. In fact, our brain is an interestinghardware, which is forever “under construction” due to neuroplasticity, allowing us to adapt to our environment on daily basis. Whenever we learn, memorize ordo something, our brain structure changes by neuroplasticity to increase our fitness to our living environment. In contrast, if we take our inherited gifts forgranted and do not practice them for a long time, we will risk losing our gifts due to neuronal shrinkage. Besides, neuroplasticity also helps repair brain damageand overcome mental illnesses to certain extent through production of new neurons and reassigning functional area in our brain. In fact, we can change ourdestiny every day simply by putting our willingness to change into action. If you say you cannot, then you cannot, but stop blaming destiny as it is your


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