By Walter Sorochan Emeritus Professor San Diego State University
Adopted from Chapter 29: Mental-Mind-brain - How you become who and what you are; book - Whole Body Wellness, 2017, by Walter Sorochan

Posted December 30, 2018.  Disclaimer

Introduction: This article points out that plasticity should be considered as a human survival need. The phenomenon of plasticity is more than just about the brain, it is about how the mind-mental-brain functions. Plasticity requires the brain to be continuously stimulated or the brain withers slowly, eventuating in early mental deterioration and even Alzheimer's disease. Preventing mental deterioration extends longevity and maintains wellbeing. This is why plasticity is included as the highest level survival need.

This article covers information about the brain that is important for everyday life. It is about how the mental-mind works, who we become, how we behave and how we can survive longer by giving the brain what it needs. The article is somewhat long because one cannot explain life of the brain in a short paragraph as it is complicated and complex. You, the reader, need to be patient and see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Most of our problems in life are not medical brain surgery issues. Instead, it is the psychological-mental mind set of the brain. The mind in our everyday life helps us to heal, reason, feel, believe, sense empathy and remorse, perceive, imagine, judge, think, remember and solve problems. It is part of our behavior that drives us into action and it is often difficult to understand why and what we do and say. We need to open our mind to understand all this! The mind-brain is part of our everyday psychic and this is explored in this article.

The story unfolding in this article does not follow the anatomical-physiology-chemistry of the medicine model that all medical students are indoctrinated with. Instead, we explore, in simple fashion, how the mental-mind-brain works for everyday people, what makes us who we are, how did we become who we are and how we function.

This article sheds new light on how the mental-mind-brain really works. The brain and mind can light up learning from birth to senior citizens. Many of the old ideas about the brain and mental health that were evolved in the 1960's are no longer true. [18] Indeed, we learn not just good and bad behaviors, right and wrong perceptions, but racial and cultural biases as well. It is what the brain or mental-mind remembers and thinks that contribute to stress, failure, success and many emotional problems.

Medical science does not have a real good definition of mental wellbeing or mental illness. Psychiatry has attempted to work miracles on the brains of mentally ill but with limited success. Mental health and the mind have something to do with the brain and how we function every day.

The brain is an organ of the mind that deals with storing and recalling memory, human consciousness, faith, intuition, imagination, cognitive-biases, extra-sensory perception and experience. This is a massive amount of data to carry and this also makes the brain a marvelous machine that is also shrouded in mystic magic.

The ability to store and retrieve memory is a fascinating and complex process. We can create memories and recall images of past experiences that help us learn, to tell stories and even to recognize each other. The mental-mind, without you thinking about it, can also activate working memory, like holding in your mind a sentence you have just read or a phone number you’re about to dial. MIT researchers [17] point out that all of these mental-mind-brain activities are possible and that memory is stored throughout many brain structures as well as in the connections between neurons in the nerve synapses of brain nerves.

Over the past 25 years, neuroscientists have discovered a great deal about the architecture and function of the brain. Much of the focus on early research was on the early years of development, how different parts of the brain function on diseased brains. [18] Now, with the advent of new imaging techniques, researchers are able to examine normal brains of people throughout their lives. Much of this work has been done by Dr. Jay Giedd at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md., together with colleagues at McGill University in Montreal. [1]

What researchers have found has shed light on how the mental-mind-brain grows and when it grows. It was thought at one time that the foundation of the brain's architecture was laid down by the time a child is five or six years of age. Indeed, 95 percent of the structure [size] of the brain has been formed by then. Researchers also discovered changes in the structure of the brain that appear relatively late in child development and also in older persons.

Scientists have found that the brain has plasticity, referring to the brain's ability to CHANGE throughout life. The brain has the ability to modify its connections or re-wire itself. It is not set in concrete by age 24. The human brain has the amazing ability to reorganize itself by forming new connections between brain cells or neurons. This plasticity continues throughout life from a day old baby to seniors. [2] [20]

Dynamics of plasticity occurs in the brain: [2]

1. At the beginning of life: when the immature brain organizes itself.

2. In case of brain injury: to compensate for lost functions or maximize remaining functions.

3. Through adulthood: whenever something new is learned and memorized.

Below is an example of brain plasticity:

Bartels sites excellent examples of brain plasticity: [3]

"In one surgery, a surgeon in his 50s suffered a stroke. His left arm was paralyzed. During his rehabilitation, his bad arm and hand are immobilized, and he is set to cleaning tables. The task is at first impossible. Then slowly the bad arm remembers how too move. He learns to write again, to play tennis again: the functions of the brain areas killed in the stroke have transferred themselves to healthy regions!"

Bartels sites several more plasticity true stories from Norman Doidge’s book, The Brain That Changes Itself:

"Paul Bach-y-Rita pioneered the idea of “polysensory”. Polysensory refers to the sensory areas of the brain, which rather than only processing information from just the senses that normally report to those areas, are actually able to process information from any of the senses."

"Michael Merzenich, a developer of the cochlear implant and founder of Posit Science, is another of the scientists noted by Doidge. Merzenich says that “You cannot have plasticity in isolation – an absolute impossibility. (and Doidge continues) His experiments have shown that if one brain system changes, those systems connected to it change as well".

"Edward Taub, who established constraint induced therapy, an alternative therapy for individuals felled by stroke states: Taub’s research supported Merzenich’s findings that “when a brain map is not used, the brain can reorganize itself so that another mental function takes over that processing space."

The brain compensates for damage by reorganizing and forming new connections between intact neurons. In order to reconnect, the neurons need to be stimulated through activity.

The above examples of the ability of the brain to adapt and compensate in order to fix a broken human body part is also applicable to learning at all ages, including seniors. Some skeptics may consider this far fetched science, so here are a few more examples that your brain can learn new tasks at all ages. [Have an open mind!]

Giedd and his colleagues were surprised to find: " that in an area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex, the brain appeared to be growing again just before puberty. The brain of a baby grew by over-producing synapses, or connections"; Gield and his scientists had not known that there was a second period of over-production. "In a baby, the brain over-produces brain cells (neurons) and connections between brain cells (synapses) and then starts pruning them back around the age of three. The process is much like the pruning of a tree. By cutting back weak branches, others flourish". The second wave of synapse formation described by Giedd showed a spurt of growth in the frontal cortex just before puberty [age 11 in girls, 12 in boys] and then a pruning back again in adolescence. [1]

In another study of growth patterns of the developing brain, Paul Thompson of the University of California at Los Angeles, along with Jay Giedd and colleagues from McGill University, found waves of growth in the corpus callosum. These findings reinforce studies on language acquisition showing that the ability to learn new languages declines after the age of 12. [1]

Right around the time of puberty and on into the adult years is a particularly critical time for the mental-mind-brain sculpting to take place. We are just beginning to understand the influences of parenting or teaching, society, nutrition, bacterial and viral infections have on this building-up phase in the brain. But the pruning-down phase is perhaps even more interesting, because Giedd's leading hypothesis for that is the "Use it or lose it" principle. Those cells and connections that are used will survive and flourish. Those cells and connections that are not used will wither and die. [1]

So if a teen is doing music or sports or academics, those are the cells and connections that will be hard-wired. If they're lying on the couch or playing video games or MTV, those are the cells and connections that are also going to survive. Hard-wiring in the mental-mind-brain may also explain a teen joining a gang and committing violent crime.

Jay Giedd and his colleagues have given us a new window into understanding how the pre-adolescent and adult mental-mind-brain develops. [4] It confirms that different parts of the brain mature at different times. Indeed the adolescent brain keeps on maturing until about age 24, then more neuron pruning, and beyond.

You have to step outside the medical and political box of thinking and, with an open mind, try to view what it is that we are talking about and how the mental-mind-brain develops, works and affects us. Understanding how the brain-mind works should help us understand who we are, what we are, why we behave as we do, what our potentials may be and that plasticity is essential for survival.

So let us start from the beginning of the birth of a child and briefly follow how the mental-mind-brain develops throughout life.

The premise is that we learn all sorts of things, good and bad, from early childhood into adulthood. Babies are born with an empty 'nothing' brain. There is no information, no habits and no values in the brain of the newborn. From day one, the brain acquires everything, except the natural instincts of survival ---- breathing, movement of limbs, hunger and elimination. It is the baby's mental-mind-brain that becomes a memory storage for everything that happens in the life of a baby, and as the baby grows into a child, a teenager, an adult and eventually a senior. Without realizing, parents begin acculturating the new born child on the day the baby is born.

A big part of acculturation is babies responding to human touch, love, sight and sound. Babies thrive and grow with human touch and attention and die without it. One could hypothesize that human touch is a form of maternal love that somehow becomes an essential part of the human mind throughout life. All humans need it and touch-love experience is part of what seniors need as well.

Babies are born into an exciting new environment of air, surroundings and strangers, who become mama and daddy, and later significant others. New experiences are frightening to the baby. Its' only way to communicate how it feels is to cry when the baby feels uncomfortable. By one year most babies can walk, then experience the thrill of running and jumping and starting to talk. This sends them on an enthusiastic journey of exploring their new world. They store thousands of images as information and memories in their brain. Learning to talk and communicate is a fresh new mental-mind-brain experience that conditions the mind for more learning. Science tells us that there is an appropriate time for learning new skills. The appropriate time makes it easy to learn new languages early in childhood, whereas doing so later on makes it much more difficult. The same appropriate timing seems to also work for learning other skills , such as music. But if the proper learning time is missed, then it is difficult if not impossible to catch up later on.

New science tells us that children's first years set the stage for all future learning, especially personality development. Children's brains explode with learning new things as they grow from two to five years. It is during this stage of a child's life that parents unwittingly inculcate their children with values that lay the foundation for life. These values can be morality, simple virtues and ideas such as good /bad, happy/sad, right/wrong, hate/love and sick/healthy. Many have observed that 6 to 10 year olds may have better morality than parents, politicians and older persons. It is as though morality has been programmed in the human RNA.

Most parents are unaware that they are planting important ideas, values and morality into the minds of their children. Neuroscientist David Eagleman, in an article published in Discover, 2007, discussed how this can occur in the home and community. [14] We do things without being aware of actually doing it; without thinking about them. Somehow the mental-mind-brain coordinates the physical tasks without us being aware that we are actually doing the tasks. For example, like riding a bike, tying your shoes. You execute these actions easily but without thinking or editing the skill details of how you do it. It is like a reflex action. And so it is with parents, and their good intentions in raising their children. Most parents plant ideas, good and bad, without being aware of what it is that they are doing to the minds of their children. The inculcated ideas in the minds of children unfold and take root as they grow older. While many ideas implanted in the minds of young children are good, there may also be many that contribute to a child's anti-social behaviors.

The mental-mind-brain is a sponge! It absorbs everything the child can hear, see and feel. Vroom has an interesting video about how a child soaks up everything and how parents can help this process. Vroom has a set of tools and resources from the Bezos Family Foundation designed to help parents turn everyday moments into “brain building moments.” To display video: [5]

Acquiring new information, behaviors, new food tastes and values of good/bad, right/wrong is a continual learning process that makes the mental-mind-brain fresh and drives the brain to learn more. The mental-mind-brain develops very fast during preschool. Many personality traits and even anti-social traits, evolve during this early stage that can carry-over into adulthood. Significant others at an early age, and especially parents, become exemplar models and heroes, and have a great impact developing aspirations in young children. Kids ask who their grand-parents are or were as part of structuring their self-identity.

Learning to read, write and do arithmetic in the primary grades is more new learning. Now the mental-mind-brain has been conditioned to expect to continue to learn. And learning continues into the teen ages where they learn to acquire higher levels of understanding about their world, have friends and socialize. The child and teenager are both evolving a sense of self-identity that continues to be refined into the teen years. These are also more exciting first time learning events for the mental-mind-brain.

An exciting aspect of mind development during early years of life is the molding of a person's personality. Different families raise their children in slightly different ways that help children evolve diverse but sparkling personalities that make us slightly different from others but still have a common cultural value thread. This is a healthy outcome of how the mental-mind-brain works.

As a child becomes a teenager, the mind is excited about the hero affect shifting from parents to teen peers. The sense of belonging and family values continue with refining self-identity. This has a significant development on the brain and choices the mind of a teenager makes. Teen impact is reinforced by good and bad moral choices, that in turn, shape the lifestyle of his/her future. It is during this stage of developmental maturity that societal and family values may come in conflict with peer group values. Such conflict drives the mental-mind-brain to continue to learn.

Fast learning as a stimulus for the mental-mind-brain continues until about age 24, then learning appears to slow down. The brain is now supposedly stalked full of learning and society assumes that the young adult is fully grown and mature and knows how to behave. But such is not the case.

What happens after age 24? Well, the mental-mind-brain usually becomes arrested in many adults. It slows down or even stops to evolve at about this time. Kolhberg illustrated this with his studies on morality in the 1970's Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development. [6] Many young adults can get arrested in mental-mind-brain development at a low moral stage of development early in life. Indeed, Kohlberg's research has found education to be a significant factor in the development of thinking, consciousness and morality in all cultures.

Another reason for arrested mental-mind-brain development is adult diversion. Young adults get a job and spend time honing job skills, getting married, getting a home, and raising a family for the next 30 or so years. Adults settle into daily chores and routines to put food on the table, raise their children and fit into their community. All this job-family-community impacting confines the mental-mind-brain to become a maintenance slaver and diverts or delays from the brain really learning. Yes, there is some mental-mind-brain learning taking place, but not the kind of stimulation that is needed to sustain brain happiness. Instead, the brain is forced to go stale! It was you who may have stopped the mental-mind-brain from growing; not your brain. Although stale, the brain is in a holding pattern and yearns for stimulation and to continue growing.

When the mental-mind-brain sputters before and after early adulthood, then this is when we begin to have mental-emotional problems emerging. As we get older, with less brain stimulus for growth or the wrong kind, like drug abuse and belonging to a group or gang, the brain begins to lose itself. Memory fails and so does the brain's ability to do everyday maintenance tasks. We wither into a vegetative survival state, living but functioning at a low level!.

So what is the essence of all this information about growing old and losing your brain?

As the earlier examples illustrated, the mental-mind-brain has the ability to grow and does not stop growing. Instead. it is you, the person, who stops growing. You do not lose your brain as you got older. Instead, the mental-mind-brain struggles to thrive and be stimulated. What happened is that you neglected your precious brain. You forgot or were unaware of the need to provide learning experiences for the mental-mind-brain. You did not realize that the brain works like a muscle. As the adage says: "Use it or lose it!" You began losing the potential of your brain and yourself when you stopped exercising the mind.

Even at an older age, the mental-mind-brain is not dead! It is alive but asleep, and waiting to be stimulated and rejuvenated. The mental-mind-brain needs continued stimulation. This need is important for all of us and especially middle agers and seniors.

The mental-mind-brain has the power to continue developing and growing. There is no limit for brain growth. Unfortunately, cultures set the limit by using the term "maturity" to describe growth of the human being. This has stifled us from allowing the mental-mind-brain to be free to continue growing. Most individuals assume that, after graduating from high school or university, that they are now 'learned', have become mature and no longer need to learn. But the mental-mind-brain has no such barriers. The brain is an open mind, so to speak. As long as your brain is alive, it never stops wanting to learn.

There are a few functions that make the mental-mind-brain a super hero. Here are a few of them that we tend to overlook:

Intelligence: Intelligence, linked to the brain, has evolved over thousands of years. Consider the aspect of whether one can improve his or her intelligence, assuming that it is related to some aspect of brain function. Two persons of approximate equal IQ at age 12 end up having different IQ in later adulthood. [7] What caused this difference in adulthood? Could it be different experiences, environment or also the ability of one brain to learn and the other not? This question begs an answer.

Did anyone tell you your IQ or intelligence quotient? They put a ceiling on your mind-brain and assumed that this was as high an intelligence as you could have. But you have just become aware that the mental-mind-brain has no ceiling to grow. If you allow your brain to grow and function, it should continue to slowly improve your IQ! Some refer to this as common sense or wisdom!

Kuszewski discussed increasing your mental-mind-brain or your capacity to learn new information, retain it, then use that new knowledge as a foundation to solve the next problem, or learn the next new skill, and so on. This is different from memorizing information. Fluid intelligence is trainable, the more you train the more you gain. [8] This aspect of intelligence supports the idea that seniors can stimulate their brains and learn new functional skills.

Ever wonder what was the difference between the brain of Einstein and the rest of us? I would speculate that Einstein, or creative inventors like Nicola Tesla, who designed the world's first hydro-electric power plant in Niagara falls, Ontario, Canada, continuously stimulated the mental-mind-brain with new ideas and mental exercises while most others stopped doing so probably in early youth or middle age. This query does not provide a complete answer but it opens the window to find more answers.

Brain potential exists in many ways:

    1. unlimited growth
    2. no limit on intelligence
    3. brain growth improves intelligence
    4. everyone can continue to learn
    5. mental-mind-brain can become arrested for a period of time, and then resurrected to become active again
    6. brain needs to be stimulated continuously
    7. with continued growth, the brain can be trained to begin to solve problems
    8. the mental-mind-brain has intuition for the future and doing things like solving problems

The idea of retirement from employment is a very bad idea, because most persons stop having a meaningful purpose to live and learn. Job retirees may retire from their job but not from work and life. Life requires us to work, that is, maintaining our wellbeing. The mental-mind-brain never retires or stops growing and learning. Seniors need to keep the mental-mind-brain active the rest of their lives by doing something useful and meaningful. Doing so, in turn, stimulates the brain to be kept alive in the body it is in and extend longevity; because the brain has something to do that gives it reason to want to learn.

There is a pressing need to help many aging persons who appear to have cognitive decline. Human aging is associated with deterioration of cognitive functioning: memory loss, decision making, and cognitive control. Numerous interventions [cognitive training] have been suggested to slow this decline, such as aerobic exercise and mental stimulation. But reviving the mental-mind-brain from its dormant state in many seniors to its pre-existing youthful stage is just in the early stages of research.

What kind of activities stimulate the brain?

Activities, referred to as novelty, need to be new experiences or activities that challenge the mental-mind-brain and prepare the brain for learning [neurogenesis].

Such novel experiences need to be selected that fit the interest and background of a person. [2] Daily routines or habits, like eating, watching TV, shopping, playing golf, playing cards and having a social luncheon once a week, that are repetitious, do not stimulate the mental-mind-brain very much. But learning the new game skills of golf are different from playing the same old game week after week.

Bultenweg [7] reports that seniors do best with multi-task brain learning. Plasticity is the key to long-term retention. Consider new activities that are first time experiences, like learning a new skill, taking a college class, learning to speak a new language, how to paint, how to play a musical instrument or learning a new computer language - all stimulate the mental-mind-brain in varying degrees. Learning several new skills at the same time, according to research, has a better chance of successful brain learning than learning just one skill. You need to make the mental-mind-brain struggle to learn, making it difficult for you to learn. The new skill needs to be repeated many times. The new skill needs to be grafted! It is such new experiences that allow the brain to expand, grow to a higher level and acquire higher capacity for thinking, solving problems and doing things. [7]

Seniors, like children, need to experience first time activities to provide a learning spark to their mental-mind-brains. But the environmental setting is just as important as the new experiences. Retired persons need to be surrounded by positive people. Middle aged and seniors need the social environment that is positive and not negative for their mental-mind-brains to grow. Seniors need to be segregated on their background and level of wellbeing and past experiences. The social environment is the fuel needed for a novel activity spark that ignites the old brain to explode with fresh energy. There is ample evidence that senior mental-mind-brain functioning can improve, although results are not always positive. [7]

Seniors need a variety of first time activities, not just dancing, bus trips, shuffle board games and social interactions, which are great for feeling good about oneself, but can become monotonous repetitions. Keep in mind that when the brain is ignited and set on fire, then the whole body feels the energy and responds to the new exciting energy. And this new whole body energy is what makes one feel young, alive, vibrant and wanting to live!

The mental-mind-brain grew from birth. It needs to continue to grow each day to stay well. Unfortunately, our culture does many things that suppress our brain from growing and keep you 'stupid'!

Brain - body potential extended

When the mental-mind-brain is being continuously stimulated, we have a potential for optimal wellbeing. To live to one's potential, we need to extend the potential of the mental-mind-brain. In turn, the mental-mind-brain hones the rest of the body. More important, you as a person can function at a higher level. Functioning at a higher level implies being able to strive for perfection or high performance in any and all endeavors. This translates into having more success and fewer failures in life.

The brain has been labeled as a coordinator of body systems, memory storage, a computer chip, and so on. Science has not really explored the potential of the mental-mind-brain to solve problems and its intuitive instincts at predicting futuristic events. But there are many instances reported by many persons who pointed out that they remembered waking up at night to record what they dreamed about their mental-mind-brain telling them how to solve the problems they were working on. While in their sleep and probably in a dream state, the mental-mind-brain was recharging, healing broken body parts, sorting out memory, and at the same time, was working on solving problems.

Another aspect of the mental-mind-brain capability is instinctive knowledge, or the ability to know what to do. This may be reasoned as 'common sense.' Some people have more of it than others. Many refer to this as "trust your gut feeling!"

Then there is the supernatural, or what we do not understand. Like unusually bright and active children labeled Indigo children who display a new and unusual set of psychological attributes and sometimes supernatural traits or abilities. Authors Lee Carroll and Jan Tober report the information of this increasingly documented and world-wide phenomenon in their groundbreaking book [1999] on the Indigo Child. [9] Anderson Cooper of TV fame has also reported these children in a CNN video; [10] children who are believed to possess special, unusual, and sometimes supernatural traits or abilities.

There is also extra-sensory perception or ESP. It has to do with abilities such as mental telepathy and clairvoyance. This author recalls on numerous times having a flash thought about a friend or relative just moments before receiving a telephone call from that person. Strange mind ability although there is no scientific evidence that such power exists. How many of you readers have had similar experiences? But like all such sensory inhibitions, one has to work to fine tune it.

Yes, there is controversy about all of this, but such controversy exists because we know so little about the mental-mind-brain. Knowing so little does not mean that it does not exist!

The above information about how the mental-mind-brain works should sensitize all of us that children learn early about life values, discipline, cultural traditions, food choices, exercise and so on from their parents, their teachers, their neighborhood and culture. The rules of minor games and sports played on playgrounds become the rules and laws of life! Indeed, many parents [in many countries] unwittingly imprint their personal biases, nationalism and racial hatred on to their small children that can last a lifetime. Many parents fail to provide a much needed home environment where kids should acquire good perceptions of life, and instead evolve anti-social behaviors that eventuate as our anti-social problems. This is a world wide travesty. Poor up-bringing incubates hatred, racism, disillusion with life and poverty, and derails youth having a just place in society and the world. This observation is one way of explaining the controversy about guns, crime, suicide bombers, teen bullying, and racial bias.

The most complex mental-mind-brain issue has been saved for last. Thomas DeMichele reminds us that the mental-mind-brain has the ability to heal. “Thoughts can rewire our brains.” [18] Lissa Rankin M.D., also author of the New York Times bestseller Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself, [15] researched thousands of research articles that included placebo designed articles attempting to validate drugs and surgery in patients. She found that many placebo patients, given sugar pills or salt water as a substitute for the real drugs [referred to as placebo], believed that they would heal in spite of not knowing that they got placebos. They had positive healing effects, often better than those of patients given medications or surgery. Healers found that sick persons need to participate in the healing process in order to heal and get well. That is what placebo persons did by believing that they will be healed. They needed to believe that they could get well and this stimulated the mental-mind-brain to react and change the chemistry of the body.

Rankin, after years of research and study, concluded that: "Your body is a self-healing organism". How one feels, thinks and believes can trigger the biochemistry of the brain and body into healing action over time. Positive aspirations overcome negative pessimism. Those who believe they can get well light up their brains into active plasticity and also spark healing. Another example of the mental-brain-mind being abler to heal is believing or having faith that prayer may heal even if it takes time, in spite of others not believing in prayer. Faith is also a mystic magic power of the mental-mind-brain. But just because medicine and science do not understand all of this does not mean that believing and wishing to be healed does not exist or work.

An interesting phenomenon of the brain and plasticity is explained by Dr Duncan Banks:  Banks: Importance of plasticity 2018

"Part of the body’s ability to recover following damage to the brain can be explained by the damaged area of the brain getting better, but most is the result of neuroplasticity – forming new neural connections. In a study of Caenorhabditis elegans, a type of nematode used as a model organism in research, it was found that losing the sense of touch enhanced the sense of smell. This suggests that losing one sense rewires others. It is well known that, in humans, losing one’s sight early in life can heighten other senses, especially hearing. "

Prevention: Maintenance for the mental-mind-brain - What you can do?

Middle aged persons and especially senior citizens need to keep the mental-mind-brain busy and healthy. Well, lets not forget teenagers and those in their 20's and 30's. Give the brain what it needs:

    1. Oxygen: lots of it every minute of the day. Oxygen gets delivered to the brain by the blood system. Regular exercise, or body movement, helps to do this. So does deep inhalation.
    2. Water: The brain is made up of lots of water. If you become dehydrated [thirsty] then the brain suffers and slows down.
    3. Sleep: the brain recharges when you sleep. Inadequate sleep causes confusion, inability to make good decisions, and loss of memory. The brain actually solves problems during sleep!
    4. Glucose: Like all body organs, the brain needs a type of sugar or glucose as its energy food. The brain is a starch hog, utilizing 20 percent of the body’s carbohydrate supply. Best food sugar sources: Grapefruit, apples, cherries, oranges, grapes, oatmeal, rice, spaghetti, green vegetables, lentils. But not white cane sugar or corn syrup for these form addictions.
    5. Nutrients: The brain builds neurons, destroys them and rebuilds them constantly. Refer to the previous articles about healing nutrients like MSM sulfur, boron, vitamin C, D-3, B-complex vitamins and so on. The brain is like a muscle and needs a constant supply of maintenance foods each day to keep it young and prevent mind-brain-related problems.
    6. Fats: The brain is 60 percent fat. You need essential fatty acids, such as Omiga-3. Good sources: cold-water fish, seeds and nuts.
    7. Exercise: regular movement exercise, with a balanced whole plant food diet, can protect the brain and ward off mental disorders.
    8. Sunshine: Get at least a half hour of sunshine each day. The sun's rays help synthesize hormone D and also stimulate the pineal gland that controls our body rhythms.
    9. Education: If you are a teenager, stay in school and get an education. Education is mind food for the mind-brain. Education gives one power to change and the mind to grow. Education is critical to plasticize the mental-mind-brain to a higher level.
    10. Excite your brain with new experiences it has never had. Novelty experiences stimulate the brain to learn and help you stay young. [11]
    11. Parenting skills: As a prospective parent, you need to learn parenting skills to help you do a super job of raising your children. The skills you lack as an uninformed parent can damage your children. Enroll in a parenting class that offers plasticity.
    12. Give your mental-mind-brain a positive and optimistic outlook. Positive thinking is not a panacea for all of life’s problems, but it is a huge help. We need to minimize bad stress. Robert Sapolsky, a professor of neuroendocrinology at Stanford University, has shown that stress is associated with neural degeneration. His research found that long-term stressful life experiences cause elevated production of cortisol, which results in the shrinking of the hippocampus area [ memory storage ] of the brain. [1]

This article is more than just about plasticity and that the mind-brain needs to be stimulated by new experiences all the time. Plasticity is part of how complex the whole body is. It should be considered as the new high level frontier of continuous evolutionary survival. Plasticity fine tunes the human body and allows us to function at an optimal level of wellbeing and experience our optimal potentials of who we can be.  


1 Giedd Jay, "Inside the teenage brain," Frontline interview KPBS.  Giedd: inside teen brain

2 Michelon Pascale, "Brain Plasticity: How learning changes your brain, SharpBrains, February 26, 2008.   Michelon: Brain plasticity 2008

3 Bartels Laurie, "Neuroplasticity and the brain that changes itself," SharpBrains, November 12, 2008.  Bartels: Brain changes itself

4 Kohn David, "When Gut Bacteria Changes Brain Function," The Atlantic, June 24, 2015.  Kohn: Gut bacteria changes brain 2015

5 Vroom, "Vroom Activities." Harvard Center on the Developing Child.  Vroom: activities Vroom: child activities

6 McLeod, S. A. (2013). Kohlberg. 2013.  McLeod: Kohlberg 2013

7 Bultenweg Jessika I. V., Jaap M.J. Murre and K. Richard Ridderinkof, "Brain training in progress: a review of trainability in healthy seniors," Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, JUne 21, 2012.  Bultenweg: Brain training 2012

8 Kuszewski Andrea, "You can increase your intelligence: 5 ways to maximize your cognitive potential." Scientific American, March 7, 2011.  Article by Kuszewski: Increase your intelligence 2011 is no longer active.

9 Lee Carroll and Jan Tober, The Indigo Children: The New Kids Have Arrived , May 1, 1999.  Lee: Indigo children 1999

10 Live Science Staff, "Good Diet, Exercise Keep Brain Healthy," Live Science, July 9, 2008.  LifeScience staff: Keeping brain healthy 2008

11 Cooper Anderson, "Indigo Children, CNN, Sep 22, 2010.  Cooper: Indigo children 2010

12 Choi Charles Q., "People literally feel pain of others," LiveScience, June 17, 2007.  Choi: Feeling pain of others 2007

13 Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "I'm OK, you're not OK: Right supramarginal gyrus plays an important role in empathy." ScienceDaily, October 9, 2013.  Max-Planck-Gesellschaft: Empathy 2013

14 Eagleman David, “10 Unsolved Mysteries Of The Brain,” Discover, July 31, 2007.  Eagleman: Brain mysteries 2007

15 Rankin Lissa, "Mind Over Medicine: How to Help Your Body Heal Itself," NextAvenue, August 26, 2013.  Article by Rankin: Body heals itself 2013 is no longer active.

16 Ball Philip, "The strange link between the human mind and quantum physics," BBC, February 16, 2017.  Article by Ball 2017 Quantum brain is no longer active.

17 Anthony Sebastian, "MIT discovers the location of memories: Individual neurons," Extreme Tech, March 23, 2012.  Anthony Memory location 2012

18 DeMichele Thomas, "Thoughts Can “Rewire” Your Brain," Fact/Myth, February 27, 2017.  Article by DeMichele: Thoughts rewire brain 2017 is no longer active

19 Kursweil Ray, "Brain has more than 100 times higher computational capacity than previously thought, say UCLA scientists," Kursweil Accelerating Intelligence, March 10, 2017.  Kursweil: Brain potential 2018

20 Cherry Kendra, "What Is Brain Plasticity? How Experience Changes the Brain," VeryWellMind, February 24, 2018. Cherry: Plasticity changes brain 2018

21 Banks Duncan, "What is brain plasticity and why is it so important?" The Conversation, April 4, 2016  Banks: Importance of plasticity 2018