A hot topic in the field of modern neuroscience is neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is your brain’s
remarkable ability to adapt and improve its itself/it's responses to various sensory stimuli. In other words, it's ability to literally adapt it's structure to better deal with the challenges you present it. We all utilize Neuroplasticity on a day to day basis but when we engage in intentional activities to take full advantage of this property of our brains, we can speed up the progression of our cognitive enhancement.
How? Simply practice a few exercises targeting specific connections between functional brain regions. For instance...
When we write a thought, our brain converts the words – which are symbols – into movements of our mouths, fingers, and hands. This pathway is understood to be primarily from Broca’s Area (the part of the brain which produces the neural signals constituting language) to the Primary Motor Cortex (where they are translated into specific behaviors like saying and writing words).
Interestingly, bad handwriting (writing characterized by quick, jerky movements that form often illegible letters) can often be understood as an overload of this pathway’s processing capability due to a 1) low levels of specific stimulation and 2) low levels of Acetylcholine and other neurotransmitters. Worthy of consideration here are the two predominant styles of written English. That is, print (like what you are reading here) and cursive. Print and cursive writing themselves can be understood in terms of symbols.
In print, the word “you” is formed by the the three individual letter symbols y-o-u that must each be written out separately – that is, once you have written the “y” your pen must leave the paper to form the “o”, and again to craft the “u”. Many people favor this method of writing because it requires less effort per-process from the primary motor cortex – it takes less energy per symbol because each symbol is short, small, and takes less cognitive effort to formulate in Broca’s area than a longer continuous symbol such as written word in cursive. In cursive we write several letters at a time to form one rather than many symbols. Returning to our earlier example, “you” is formed in one fluid motion. This leads the primary motor cortex to process this more complex movement with more energy because more information is being transferred. Thus, higher rates of information exchange lead to structure- function changes at the synapse and neuroplasticity is put to work for you.
These different methods of processing are similar to the different approaches to working out a
muscle: high-rep with low weight versus low-rep with high weight. The high-rep, low weight
approach is similar to writing in print – the many small symbols are the low reps which do not
push our cortex to growth for it takes little effort to form each individual symbol. Cursive ,
on the other hand, is like the high-weight, low rep approach because each word is written in one
fluid motion. Because this process is more complex and requires more cognitive energy, it drives
fast sustained neural/muscle tissue growth. Cursive writing selectively stimulates those typically
weak neurons which formulate language to improve one’s ability to read, write, concentrate, and
Toronto’s Arrowsmith School, a brain-training based school for disabled children (www.arrowsmithschool.org), corroborates this line of thinking with studies demonstrating that writing sessions intentionally in cursive improve neurologically impaired children’s ability to speak, read, and write spontaneously relative to print writing because their brains are being “worked out” more than normal.
Recall that this neuroplastic process is mediated by Acetylcholine, it follows then that higher
levels of acetylcholine and it’s more efficient neurotransmission would bolster and greatly
improve the rate of this (and virtually every other instance of neuroplasticity) adaptive
neuroplastic process. Nootropic supplements targeting ACh, will also help to elevate not only your cognitive performance, but also prime your brain for future positive adaptations by optimizing your brain chemistry. The following is a graph showing the percent of basal (baseline/normal) Acetylcholine over time from using the Nootropic supplement Aniracetam:
As you can see, at t=40-60 (after 40-60 minutes), the levels of Acetylcholine almost double from the baseline figures. Crazy stuff.
I hope you’ve found this information useful to your cognition enhancement voyage.
Until next time,