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Experts used to think that the brain did not change. We were born with all the brain cells we were going to have, and it was all downhill from there. Recent findings show that isn't all there is to it.
Although the brain is fully formed at birth (except for size,) it can change. The neurons make connections with each other as learning progresses. The number of potential connections is too large to calculate. Albert Einstein left his brain to science, and it was discovered that he had no more brain cells than the average person, but many more neuronal connections.
Recently, scientists have discovered that the brain can actually change dramatically, to the point that some areas taking on functions that are generally not associated with them. This is called neuroplasticity. The brains of Buddhist lamas who had meditated for thousands of hours over their lifetimes showed great activity during meditation.
One Harvard research team concluded, "Behavior will lead to changes in brain circuitry, just as changes in brain circuitry will lead to behavioral modifications." So it appears that our practice of self-hypnosis can alter for the better not only the psychological "mind," but the structure of the physical brain/mind as well.
Other research shows that aerobic exercise improves circulation to the brain, increasing the neural connections. There are even new brain cells formed in the hippocampus, part of the memory apparatus.
The same diet and exercise recommendations that contribute to cardiovascular health keep the brain functioning well. What's good for the heart is good for the head.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|