What Does Neuroplasticity Mean In Science?
Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. This process is known as synaptic plasticity, and it underlies our capacity for learning and memory.
Neuroplasticity occurs both in response to experience and in the absence of experience. When we learn something new, our brains create new neural pathways to store this information. But even in the absence of learning, our brains are constantly changing in response to the world around us.
For example, if we lose a limb, the brain will rewire itself to adapt to the loss. Researchers have also found that meditating can cause changes in the brain, and that people who suffer from depression or anxiety have brains that are structurally different from those of people who do not suffer from these conditions.
While neuroplasticity is a good thing—it allows us to adapt to our environment and learn new things—it can also lead to problems. For example, if we learn to associate certain sights or smells with negative experiences, these associations can become so strong that they trigger a fear response even when there is no actual danger present.
Likewise, if we spend too much time in front of screens (as many of us do), our brains can become wired for distraction and it becomes more difficult to focus on real-world tasks. But the good news is that neuroplasticity also works in reverse: we can rewire” our brains to overcome these negative effects.