How to Change the Neural Pathways

Despite a common belief that the brain is unable to change dramatically once we reach adulthood, research in the field of neuroscience shows that our brain is actually much more flexible and adaptable than we originally thought.

The major changes and growth of our brain happen throughout the childhood and adolescence. After you reach 25, your brain normally stops forming new neural pathways, so your habits, attitudes, and beliefs become deep-rooted and harder to change.

However, it is possible to reprogram your brain and keep it flexible throughout the whole life. Learning new skills and incorporating new habits into your daily routine can improve your brain’s plasticity and help it stay highly adjustable.

How to Boost Your Brain’s Plasticity?

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s capacity to constantly generate new neurons and create neural pathways. If you want to rewire your brain, you need to repetitively practice a new set of skills or behavior which will eventually challenge your brain to think in a new way and change itself, allowing creativity and intuition. Therefore, promoting the neuroplasticity of your brain is vital for your learning skills and emotional intelligence.

Neuroplasticity comprises two aspects:

  • Synaptic plasticity – strengthening or weakening of existing neural pathways, and

  • Structural plasticity – creating completely new neurons and neural connections.

Here is how you can support healthy plasticity of your brain.

1.       Focus on Cognitive Challenges

One way to grow new neurons and create fresh neural pathways is to polish those parts of your brain that you use less frequently. In other words, you need to push your brain out of its comfort zone by doing things that are mentally taxing.

So, any cognitive challenge that requires conscious learning, decision-making, problem-solving, planning, memorizing, and strategizing will stimulate your brain to grow new neurons and connections between for them. An example of a challenge like this can be learning a new language or a musical instrument.

2.       Repeat and Perform

To strengthen existing neural connections, you need to deliberately repeat the new behavior or set of skills you learned. For example, you cannot just learn to play the piano and never think about it again. New neural connections and pathways are delicate. Thus, only through practice and repetition those connections can be firmly established and become a routine behavior.

3.       Healthy Plasticity and Physical Health

For your brain to stay flexible, you need to be in good shape physically. Since your brain takes a large number of your body’s nutrients, the healthy diet, hydration, and enough sleep are important as your brain learns and repeats behavior patterns.  

4.       Practice Visualization 

The more you practice a new behavior pattern, the more likely you are to turn it into the desired pattern you want to accomplish. Repetition thickens neural connections and helps the new behavior become more habitual. And the best way to adopt a new behavioral pattern is to visualize it. A mental rehearsal of the desired behavior promotes the growth of neurons and neural connections allowing you to recruit the imagination to rewire your brain.