A clear, critical link between neuroplasticity and learning
Brain activities have a deeper connection with the building of memories as we form habits. But this is a normal process. Given this, deliberate changes can help you improve mental performance.
The human brain is amazing. It can remould itself, just like any other polymer. The activity of the human brain starts with its formation in the womb. It starts accepting signals from birth, and neurons start combining as humans develop senses and witness different circumstances. It gradually develops, and our brain keeps remodelling itself through neuron connections.
Neurons are the brain cells responsible for receiving signals from the external world and help the human body react differently to different stimuli. There are three types of neurons — sensory neurons, motor neurons, and interneurons — and all are essential for a healthy brain. Brain activities have a deeper connection with the building of memories as we form habits. But this is not deliberate conditioning; it is a normal process. Given this, deliberate changes can help you improve mental performance.
Shockingly, our brain does not treat success and failure equally. Research suggests that it reacts to success in a better way (and remembers it differently) and failure has less of an impact on the brain. Nevertheless, can we ignore the lesson to be learned from failures? This will help us acquire expertise — merging education and experience to work effectively and efficiently, and help others do the same.
So, we need to evaluate each failure and learn from them. This requires a change from the ordinary — in the way the brain functions. Called neuroplasticity, this is about the brain’s ability to learn from experience. It is about its ability to form new neural connections. Sometimes, this is a response to injuries. But at other times, it is a response to external developments. Most experts agree that learning something new (a language, an instrument, a skill), puzzles and crosswords, or yoga enhances neuroplasticity. It can also be developed by making changes in daily routines. Scientists believe that the easiest way to make something a habit is to stack it atop an existing habit. This can work in ways both mundane and complex.
Neuroplasticity is a profound concept that must be introduced to students to help them to not simply build memories (including skills and knowledge), but nurture them in their interconnected neurons through regular practice. The brain’s ability to reorganise itself by forming new neural connections can help build new skills atop old ones.
The link between neuroplasticity and learning is straightforward. As we learn, our brains develop new pathways. Each new learning strengthens existing neural connections and refines our worldview.
An entrepreneur must be able to effectively communicate, sell, focus, learn, and strategise. The capacity to consistently learn is not just an entrepreneurial talent, but also a key life skill. Building a firm demands a strong plan, based on innate business understanding and talent. Educators must understand the importance of such skills.
But it’s equally important to understand that the way different people react to exercises in neuroplasticity, could be different. Researchers are now making a concerted effort to record brain activity. It’s within the realm of possibility that this will, one day, help us understand issues such as focus, decision-making, inherent skills, and responsiveness. Their efforts may shape our understanding of how to use neuroplasticity to make better leaders and entrepreneurs.
Akshat Jain is a research scholar, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and is pursuing his research studies in the field of Neuroscience
The views expressed are personal