Understanding the Brain
The human cortex of the brain has 30 billion neurons capable of making 1 million billion synaptic connections. The number of possible neural circuits would be 10 followed by at least a million zeros. To put this into a context the number of particles in the known universe is estimated to be only 10 followed by 79 zeros.
These staggering numbers explain why the human brain can be described as the most complex known object in the universe.
Up until the discovery of neuroplasticity, scientists believed that the only way the brain could change structure was through thousands of years of evolution with new brain structures developing as a result of ‘survival value’ genetic mutations being passed on to the next generation. Plasticity creates a new way of introducing new biological brain structures in individuals without having to wait thousands of years for genetic mutations to arise. This is proved every time a parent reads to their children. When a parent reads, the microscopic structure of their brain is changed. Reading to children teaches children to read and reading changes the biological structure of the child’s brain too.
One of biggest influences on the plastic nature of the human brain over the last 50 years has been television. A recent study of more than 26 hundred toddlers has revealed that early exposure to TV between the ages of 1 and 3 years correlates with problems paying attention and controlling impulses later in childhood. It was about 20 years after the spread of TV that teachers started to notice that their students had become more restless and had difficulty concentrating. On a positive note TV has also enabled us to gain knowledge, awareness and learn without having to leave our armchairs. Brain science has also revealed that the same ‘mirror neurons’ in the brain that are active when we carry out an activity, are also stimulated when we watch an activity being carried out. You only have to look at how quickly young children can copy something so easily and quickly that they’ve seen. Watch this Youtube clip which demonstrates this perfectly:
Reading, television, video games, modern electronics, contemporary music and the internet are all massively remodelling the human brain through exposure and from the fact that we can spend millions of ‘practice’ events, that the average human a thousand years ago had no exposure to. ‘Practice’ events create new neural connections in a brain capable of creating a million billion connections. Thanks to the advances in brain mapping and neuroplasticity it is now possible for anyone to rewire their brain in order to achieve a more successful life in terms of health, relationships and careers.