A psychiatrist in San Francisco, Shulamit Glaubach, MD, has been treating children, adolescents, and adults for 20 years. Shulamit Glaubach, MD, is also interested in the physiological aspects of the operation of the human brain, including neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following an injury (https://www.britannica.com/science/neuroplasticity).
Also called brain malleability or brain plasticity. Brain plasticity is the study of a physical process. Gray matter can actually shrink or thicken; neural connections can be forged and refined or weakened and severed. Changes in the physical brain manifest as changes in our abilities. For example, each time we learn a new dance step, it reflects a change in our physical brains: new “wires” (neural pathways) that give instructions to our bodies on how to perform the step. Each time we forget someone’s name, it also reflects brain change— “wires” that once connected to the memory have been degraded or even severed. As these examples show, changes in the brain can result in improved skills (a new dance step) or a weakening of skills (a forgotten name).
Another important finding of the recent neuroplasticity research is the discovery of how closely our senses are connected to memory and cognition. Because of their interdependence, a weakness in one is often related to—or even the cause of—a weakness in the other. For example, we all know that Alzheimer’s patients slowly lose their memories. One way this manifests is that they eat less food. Why? As it turns out, visual deficits are also a part of Alzheimer’s. People eat less because they can’t see the food as well. (https://www.brainhq.com/brain-resources/brain-plasticity/brain-plasticity-luminaries/alice-cronin-golomb-phd).
Research shows that how you respond to stress may be a key factor in how your brain ages. Researchers found that people with increased stress have increased risk for mental disorders a decade later, especially anxiety and depression. The message is clear: managing daily stress is a key factor in keeping your brain healthy as you age, and this has implications for everything from depression to dementia. A great tool for stress management is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), an energy psychology tool that can help reprogram your body’s reactions to everyday stress. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWu3rSEddZI&feature=youtu.be).
The point is, you have much more control over your body, mind, and brain than you might think. If you can mold and shape your brain, you are not entirely at the mercy of your genetics or the neural pathways you brought into this world or formed as a child—and this is great news!