The young brain has a lot of plasticity and flexibility, which explains why children and young people learn so quickly. Our brain develops neural pathways and the more we use them, they become thicker and deeper, embedding into the deeper portions of the brain.
As we reach adult age, we have so many neural pathways that we rely on them and the behavioral patterns we learned in our childhood. As you age, your brain becomes passive, choosing already developed neural pathways. Only if you let it, though. In other words, there are ways to create new connections between the neurons and keep your brain active and flexible throughout your life.
What Behavior Patterns Does Your Brain Adapt To?
Our brain can adapt to three major types of change. The brain can:
• Strengthen existing behavior patterns
• Expands or revises current behaviors
• Adapts to entirely new behavior patterns
Strengthening Existing Behavior Patterns
One way your brain adapts to change is by strengthening the existing neural pathways responsible for certain behaviors. This happens when you repeat a certain behavior such as playing an instrument – your neural pathways associated with this behavior are strengthening each time you repeat this behavior and the brain increasingly performs the behavior more and more subconsciously. Once you learn the behavior, your brain transfers learned skills from conscious to subconscious mind where it stores them in a long-term memory.
The ability to perform a certain behavior subconsciously allows you to complete it more easily and efficiently. Also, it makes it possible to further enhance and develop a behavior.
Modifying Existing Behavior Patterns
When we make changes to our current behaviors, our brain adapts to these changes rewiring or connecting existing neurons in new ways, adding different connecting connections while strengthening existing neural pathways.
The brain then removes the rewired behaviors to the subconscious mind. This allows us to transfer a set of skills learned in one situation to similar situations. In addition, this ability for change allows us to master our skills and make it easier to learn similar ones.
Learning Completely New Behaviors
Whenever you learn something new, your brain needs to adapt to changes by growing new neurons and building new neural pathways. This type of adaption is the most challenging as the brain needs to restructure the old patterns so it can add the new ones. Learning new behavior patterns requires more of your cognitive, emotional, and physical resources. Furthermore, this type of change requires a determined effort and conscious focus.
Adapting to a new behavior may cause you to worry and feel inadequate, which may negatively affect your self-esteem and confidence. Therefore, to learn a new behavior, your conscious mind needs to train the brain to endure in the most challenging circumstances and interpret stress as a motivation to learn a new behavior pattern.
Our brain uses these three basic ways to adapt to constant change. Having a knowledge of these patterns allows you to understand your abilities and inspires you to pursue the most advantageous behaviors.