The brain is an interconnected network composed of 100 billion specialized cells called neurons, each connected to up to 10,000 more, passing signals to each other via as many as 1,000 trillion synaptic connections.
The brain uses this sophisticated structure to process the information we gather through our five senses to accomplish its primary job which is ensuring our survival.
By default, the brain is constantly changing its own physical structure and function. This is known as neuroplasticity; meaning that the brain is flexible and adaptable, and its neural formations and connections reorganize and change in response to how we think, feel and behave.
The brain’s shaping and reshaping process is continuous; we do it intentionally or it will happen haphazardly. By choosing to consciously play an active role in changing our brain structure through the mind, we can shape it to our own benefit. This is the notion of self-directed neuroplasticity, or self-leadership: deliberately taking charge of your brain.
Positive neuro-plasticity changes the brain structure in four key areas:
- Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) increases in gray matter volume and capacity. This structure, located behind the frontal lobe, is responsible for self-regulatory processes including monitoring attention, conflict and cognitive flexibility.1
- Prefrontal Cortex increases in gray matter volume and capacity. This structure, in areas of the prefrontal lobe, is primarily responsible for executive functioning such as planning, problem solving, and emotional regulation.2
- Hippocampus a part of the limbic system responsible for our learning and memory, and susceptible to stress and stress-related disorders such as depression or PTSD, also increases in volume and capacity.3
- Amygdala the brain’s “fight or flight” center, responsible for our fearful, anxious and stressful responses, decreases in gray matter volume. This leads to less tension and reactivity, and therefore improved connection with the prefrontal cortex, where our higher-order thinking takes place.4
As a result of these changes in the brain’s structure, its function improves allowing us to think more clearly, make better-informed decisions, and improve our essential life-skills such as attention, flexibility, planning, problem solving, resilience and most importantly well-being.
ACTIVATING POSITIVE NEURO-PLASTICITY
The Brain-Mind-Thought Communication
Leading our lives in effective and fulfilling ways depends on how we use our minds. The mind is the doorway to the brain, and we access our minds through our thoughts. Thus, by productively directing our thoughts, since they immediately imprint on the brain, we can influence our mind and improve brain function in profound and lasting ways.
The enhanced brain function leads to a productive mindset which we experience as our ability to learn, grow and the motivation and resilience essential for accomplishing our objectives.