Spanista » Self Care Rituals, Reflections & Resources for Joyful Living by Ginny Shiverdecker

Good News Monday: NYTimes Reports Neuroplastic Brain Heal Thyself


Dear Wellness Seekers,

Good News Monday: NYTimes Reports Neuroplastic Brain Heal Thyself is a stunning article in The Sunday Review, composed by Dr. Norman Doidge of the University of Toronto’s department of Psychiatry. Spanista is exhilarated by reading it so much so I read it two more times, so really it is better than good – it is awesome! In fact, Spanista encourages everyone to spread the word as it can mean everything to sustaining richer, well lived lives for as long as each of us in on this great earth.

Here is the news: Everything we have been programmed to believe about how our brain works has been turned on its ear. To date a metaphor has been used to repeatedly to help us understand how this important organ functions – Rene Desartesn described the brain as a glorious machine with discrete parts. Each part performed a single mental function in a single location. If the part was damaged – by genetic fault, or disease or sudden injury or stroke – it was assumed the body had no resources of its own to deal with the problem: After all, machines cannot repair themselves or grow new parts. Next, the metaphor evolved to a grander electrical machine – one with ‘circuits’ like a computer. This led to seeing the circuits as hard-wired and unchangeable. Today the master analogy as described by David Gelernter suggests seeing our thoughts as ‘software’ and the brain structure as ‘hardware’. The result of this thought process is that hardware inevitably degenerates with time and use. Applying the approach “Use it and loose it”. Therefore there is nothing we can do to ward off the decline.

Here is the Breakthrough  – Dr. Diodge shares that a growing body of research indicates this ‘computer’ view is dead wrong. It seems that the more accurate rule for our brains is “Use it or lose it”!  The new understanding is the living brain is actually ‘neuroplastic’ – meaning that the circuits are constantly changing in response to what we actually do our in the world. But it  depends on how we use it.

Various studies point to aerobic exercise as a key means of firing certain circuits that restore our brains capacity to rebuild what is lost to a good degree. How does this work? For example Dr. Diodge offers “Exercise triggers the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus. It also triggers the release of ‘neurotrophic growth factors’ – a kind of brain fertilizer, helping the brain to grow, maintain new connections and stay healthy.”

Aerobic exercise has the biggest impact on generating  positive cognitive benefits specifically walking at least two miles a day, biking 10 miles a day or participating in some other rigorous physical exercise. Please reference link to “Brain Heal Thyself” by Dr. Norman Doidge. His latest book is “The Brain’s Way of Healing” was a source for this article.

Spanista Takeaway – Good News Monday: NYTimes Reports Neuroplastic Brain Heal Thyself by Dr. Norman Doidge is noteworthy because we now know walking as exercise everyday can reverse the affects of negative impacts to the brain from some debilatating diseases – so it’s role goes beyond preventative to restorative. Brilliant!  How marvelous is this news? Staying strong in mind as well as body, as well as hope for recovery if we are taken with an illness has never been more encouraging or accessible. No money needed? No drugs needed? No expensive medical treatments? It is simply up to us. Spanista believes it is a matter of taking exercise seriously as a means of Self Care – putting our needs first.

To Your Self Care Journey To Joy,


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