The Full Implications of Neuroplasticity

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Brigit Bara
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The Full Implications of Neuroplasticity

Unread post by Brigit Bara » Mon Mar 18, 2019 11:50 am

At one time, it was considered to be scientifically safe to claim that intelligence was a fixed trait from birth, and later it was considered to be very likely to be a fixed trait that is passed on by inheritance.

Since that time, the measurements and tests which are used to test human intelligence have come under better scrutiny, and the very young discipline of neuroscience has advanced enough to show that rather than having fixed capacities, the human brain is capable of developing greater neural nets and connections as a response to use. Many studies show this. For example, if a person loses a hand, the areas of the cortex that used to control that hand may in time be subsumed into new neural connections, developed for some other activity which the person is engaged in.

This was an astonishment to brain science, and there were even whispers and later discovery of neurogenesis -- the creation of new neurons -- though only in limited areas of the brain. Before that, it was expected that the same neurons we have at birth will last throughout our lifetime.

Neuorplasticity is one of the most wonderful discoveries ever made -- not just in relation to the physical person, but also in respect to the very question of what it means to be a human: you can change.
neu·ro·plas·tic·i·ty
/ˌn(y)o͝orōˌplaˈstisədē/
noun
the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury.
With the discovery of neuroplasticity, it is very natural that tests and trials would be made which measure the increases in the neuropile after engaging in certain activities. If you play piano, the cortical areas you use to perform this complex task will increase in connections and even size. The abstracts and studies on this are so numerous that it can now be said that if you engage in any activity on a regular basis, whether it is tactile or not, the brain re-organizes and re-allocates its resources to suit use. It could be described as similar to using certain muscles, which grow and quicken in response to use, and which also may decrease in size with disuse (brain atrophy is another subject, though not entirely).

Now I will get to the point. Neurologists naturally like to announce findings of brain size changes, and present these findings as a benefit to certain activities. And there is no doubt that neuroplasticity is an established reality for us; so that these findings of increased bloodflow, size, and connectivity are indeed being detected in the human brain -- even areas of the mid-brain.

One example which I have seen in most brain books is the "enriched environment" tests on rats. It was, briefly, a finding after many experiments with rats, in which some rats were kept in cages alone with very little to do, and then of this group, some were transferred to a cage with many toys and many rats. Among the sacrificed rats, as probably many here already know, the rats in the enriched environment with increased social interactions had an increased neuropile compared to the rats kept alone.

This was immediately interpreted as scientific proof that day cares and early education led to increased brain development and therefore to increased intelligence. That is not necessarily a good conclusion for many reasons. First, the rats may have an increased brain size because they were dealing with more anti-social behavior and conflicts with rats they didn't know; and second, because any increased, regular activity at all may prove to increase the density of neuronal connections.

All of this to say that increased neural net circuitry, increased blood circulation, or even increased size in an area of the brain, are not, in themselves, good arguments for the supposed benefits of a particular activity. Rather, it is already established that our wonderful brains have the physiological power of neuroplasticity, and this ability to form new skills and knowledge, resulting in physical changes in the brain to support it, will accompany any activity that we habitually engage in. And this is true at any age, all the way into middle and late adulthood.

So we should never let the neuroscientists get away with the "it enlarges the size and connectivity" argument, when they are trying to "scientifically" assert the benefits of any particular activity.

What supports neuroplasticity in any purposeful activity is a far more important question. It already has been established that brain development is best supported by good, stable, loving bonds, a varied diet not deficient in superior proteins, B12, zinc, and salt, etc., and long periods of concentration in one's chosen interests.
“Oh for shame, how these mortals put the blame upon us gods, for they say evils come from us, when it is they rather who by their own recklessness win sorrow beyond what is given…”
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Sithri
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Re: The Full Implications of Neuroplasticity

Unread post by Sithri » Mon Mar 18, 2019 1:42 pm

I think the main question here is "Why does neuroplasticity occur? Is it because consciousness itself can change the brain?"

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GaryN
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Re: The Full Implications of Neuroplasticity

Unread post by GaryN » Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:51 pm

Having a good friend who is now suffering with an advanced stage of Parkinsons disease, I was doing research to see if there was anything at all that might help him with either the physical or emotional effects of this cruel condition. Standard medicine seems to be unable to do anything more to help his condition. I was surprised and pleased to find that Psilocybin (the active ingredient of Magic Mushrooms) is showing great promise in treating depression and easing the fear of death in terminally ill patients. It has also been found that patients with various neurological damage due to disease or trauma can undergo some level of'rewiring' of the brain. Addiction to drugs such as alcohol and cocaine havealso been successfully treated.
This research is being performed by accredited facilities such as Johns Hopkins in the USA and UBC in Canada, not by some old hippies.
Another aspect of psilocybin is its ability to 'dissolve' the ego by interfering with the brains Default Mode Network, which can help with achieving deeper levels of meditation, and depending on dosages, some rather interesting effects on sensory perceptions, synesthesia being common.
"Beyond just the mental and emotional aspects of psilocybin, some studies have shown that the substance actually repairs damaged brain cells.[11] This is probably how psilocybin helps people combat severe illnesses like OCD and PTSD, by helping restructure the brain’s damaged portions."
Perhaps then, the psilocybin enhances brain plasticity?
In order to change an existing paradigm you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete. -Buckminster Fuller

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Brigit Bara
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Re: The Full Implications of Neuroplasticity

Unread post by Brigit Bara » Mon Mar 18, 2019 10:31 pm

I was surprised and pleased to find that Psilocybin (the active ingredient of Magic Mushrooms) is showing great promise in treating depression and easing the fear of death in terminally ill patients.
~Gary N.

I am very concerned about how one would gain the consent of a person with Alzheimer's disease to put them on any kind of hallucinogen, street drug, or schedule 1 substance.

The remark about the "old hippies" does introduce a side of the question that I think is very important. I have noticed that more and more street drugs are being used as psychoactive treatments for various (and multiplying daily) psychiatric conditions. So-called treatments now include lsd, pcp, thc, and methamphetamines. It cannot be a coincidence that the hippie generation is involved in trying to convince parents to put their children on these drugs during K-12. But I regard the attempts to drug seniors who may be living in an institution to be equally as unethical as drugging children, teens, and young adults. It is also very distressing that so many veterans are being over-prescribed not just psychoactive drugs, but whole suites of psychoactives.

It is true that the use of drugs can give a temporary sense of well-being or of euphoria. This temporary effect is the result of disabling the brain. In fact, the entire field of psychiatry is the science of brain damage, using drugs, electroshock, and psychosurgery. After damage, patients care less, and that is the means of treatment.

Neuroplasticity is not drug induced. It is the response of a healthy brain to new challenges and it is highly correlated with goal-oriented action. The use of psychiatric drugs is passive and relies on inducing lethargia.

I will try to offer a few more definitions of neuroplasticity
Last edited by Brigit Bara on Mon Mar 18, 2019 11:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
“Oh for shame, how these mortals put the blame upon us gods, for they say evils come from us, when it is they rather who by their own recklessness win sorrow beyond what is given…”
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Brigit Bara
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Re: The Full Implications of Neuroplasticity

Unread post by Brigit Bara » Mon Mar 18, 2019 11:01 pm

by Sithri » Mon Mar 18, 2019 1:42 pm
I think the main question here is "Why does neuroplasticity occur? Is it because consciousness itself can change the brain?"
If brain plasticity is the recruitment and repurposing of neuronal circuitry to support new demands in learning and experience, it is volitional. So I personally think the answer to that question is yes.
“Oh for shame, how these mortals put the blame upon us gods, for they say evils come from us, when it is they rather who by their own recklessness win sorrow beyond what is given…”
~Homer

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Brigit Bara
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Re: The Full Implications of Neuroplasticity

Unread post by Brigit Bara » Fri Mar 22, 2019 8:39 am

Gary N says, "Having a good friend who is now suffering with an advanced stage of Parkinsons disease, I was doing research to see if there was anything at all that might help him with either the physical or emotional effects of this cruel condition. Standard medicine seems to be unable to do anything more to help his condition."

GaryN brings up two extremely important issues for all of us; one is end-of-life care, and the other is the use of psychotropics and their effects on the human mind -- and this is affecting all of us more and more with the rise and extreme popularity of psychiatry.

End-of-life care could make a good subject for another thread; I have no idea how to discuss that "scientifically" or theoretically. But we all understand it is painful and difficult no matter who you are, and I am sure there is a lot of valuable experience and insight here. I know from experience that the remaining time we have once we know we are going to die may be a real blessing, first because we can "set our house in order," and second because as anyone begins to lose basic physical functions it may begin to ween us from drawing our entire life from this world and this physical body, and give time to think about the next life. If this is so, then drugging people during this stage of life and trying to remove fear or pain or suppress thoughts with drugs will not really be an optimal treatment for them.

But I do think I can make a strong scientific case for sobriety, both the essential role of sobriety in having a healthy operational brain, and the importance of sobriety in recovery and healing when there has been injury or illness. Maybe no one will agree with that, I don't know. But the neuroscience of sobriety is still worthwhile to explore.
“Oh for shame, how these mortals put the blame upon us gods, for they say evils come from us, when it is they rather who by their own recklessness win sorrow beyond what is given…”
~Homer

Younger Dryas
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Re: The Full Implications of Neuroplasticity

Unread post by Younger Dryas » Sun Mar 24, 2019 11:45 pm

Mycology is an incredibly fascinating subject:

-30% of the worlds soil - is fungal mass. (for every meter tree root - their is a KM of mycelium.)

-The number of known species outnumber plants 10:1

-The largest organism in the world is a mycelium map located in Oregon - 2200acres in size.

-The oldest multicellular organism found in fossil record is a fungus.

-Humans separated from fungi 650 million years ago. We share more common ancestry with fungi than we do any other kingdom. (Animals came from fungi - Humans are actually fungal bodies)

-Our best antibiotics against bacteria - are derived from Fungi (Penicillin for example)

-As the foundation of the Micro biome/Food web: They may very well be responsible for creating the very habitat that allows Flora/Fauna to exist. (Plants grow up to feed the animals/insects who then create the debris fields which feed the mycelium for the benefit of the progeny of the mushrooms that will form thereafter.)

-Meadow Makers: the Honey mushroom for example is a parasite that kills/climaxs old growth trees (canopy) ... then grows saprophytically decomposing the wood (which contains 30% water) sunlight + water creates grasslands, allowing the elk/deer etc to flourish within this environment and replenish the nitrogen within soil.

Their are a lot of reputable studies on the effect of psilocybin in creation/regeneration of neurological pathways to help combat fear response - much more would be welcome.
"I decided to believe, as you might decide to take
an aspirin: It can't hurt, and you might get better."
-- Umberto Eco Foucault's Pendulum (1988)

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Brigit Bara
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Re: The Full Implications of Neuroplasticity

Unread post by Brigit Bara » Mon Mar 25, 2019 1:37 pm

by Younger Dryas » Sun Mar 24, 2019 11:45 pm
Humans separated from fungi 650 million years ago. We share more common ancestry with fungi than we do any other kingdom. (Animals came from fungi - Humans are actually fungal bodies)
Ah yes, the widely held and practiced view that people should be kept in the dark and fed a lot of horse manure.

Now we all suspect YD works for the BBC or other mass media as a journalist. (:
“Oh for shame, how these mortals put the blame upon us gods, for they say evils come from us, when it is they rather who by their own recklessness win sorrow beyond what is given…”
~Homer

Younger Dryas
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Re: The Full Implications of Neuroplasticity

Unread post by Younger Dryas » Mon Mar 25, 2019 6:18 pm

Just giving a shoutout to our Sentient Mushroom under lords :) Humanity, correctly seen in the context of the last five hundred years is an extruder of technological material. We take in matter that has a low degree of organization; we put it through mental filters, and we extrude jewelry, gospels, space shuttles. This is what we do. We are like coral fungi embedded in a technological reef of extruded psychic objects.


https://www.npr.org/sections/health-sho ... -your-body
The human body contains about 100 trillion cells, but only maybe one in 10 of those cells is actually — human. The rest are from bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms. These microbes aren't just along for the ride. They're there for a reason. We have a symbiotic relationship with them — we give them a place to live, and they help keep us alive.Now that scientists have an idea of what a healthy microbiome looks like, they can start to explore this super-organism — this complex mishmash of human and microbial cells.How do they talk to our human cells? And how do human cells talk back to them? Because it's really a concert that they're playing together, and that's what makes us who we are,"

Sobriety may not be something to celebrate, when viewed from the lens of cooperation/communication with the Earth's micro biome. We certainly appear to not simply be along for the ride.
"I decided to believe, as you might decide to take
an aspirin: It can't hurt, and you might get better."
-- Umberto Eco Foucault's Pendulum (1988)

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Brigit Bara
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Re: The Full Implications of Neuroplasticity

Unread post by Brigit Bara » Thu Apr 04, 2019 10:16 am

"Just giving a shoutout to our Sentient Mushroom under lords :) " I love it (:
“Oh for shame, how these mortals put the blame upon us gods, for they say evils come from us, when it is they rather who by their own recklessness win sorrow beyond what is given…”
~Homer

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Brigit Bara
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Re: The Full Implications of Neuroplasticity

Unread post by Brigit Bara » Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:14 am

The common wisdom regarding the human brain is that there are certain areas of the brain which are devoted to certain tasks and abilities. While this is generally true, one of the most important implications of neuroplasticity, or the ability of the brain to form entirely new connections and circuits in response to use, is that the human brain is structured very differently from individual to individual.

Early brain science concerned itself mostly with studying the side-effects of TBI to different areas of the brain, which allowed the doctors and scientists to create a rudimentary map of the various areas related to basic functions.

The example which appears in most brain books is that of Phineas Gage. From his example, it came to be understood that the frontal cortex is responsible for the higher functions such as planning, impulse control, calculation of consequences, personality, emotional expression, self-awareness, attention, and social and moral reasoning.

Other areas responsible for conscious processes such sight, language, hearing, and facial recognition -- as well as for hundreds of unconscious processes -- are generally mapped out. However, when we see announcements in the press which make claims to the effectiveness of fMRIs in reading people's thoughts, or of any other type of scans in determining thoughts, this must be regarded as nothing less than a resurgence of phrenology. Phrenology claimed that the personality and intelligence of a person could be determined by mapping the general shape of the brain case.

Image
the detailed study of the shape and size of the cranium as a supposed indication of character and mental abilities



The human brain is simply not that fixed.
“Oh for shame, how these mortals put the blame upon us gods, for they say evils come from us, when it is they rather who by their own recklessness win sorrow beyond what is given…”
~Homer

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Brigit Bara
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Re: The Full Implications of Neuroplasticity

Unread post by Brigit Bara » Thu Apr 04, 2019 12:18 pm

Inre: the many implications of neuroplasticity
The common wisdom regarding the human brain is that there are certain areas of the brain which are devoted to certain tasks and abilities. While this is generally true, one of the most important implications of neuroplasticity, or the ability of the brain to form entirely new connections and circuits in response to use, is that the human brain is structured very differently from individual to individual, according to experience and use.

To show that brain organization and structure can differ widely from individual to individual, and is not fixed, I offer the example of the use of electrical stimulation directly on the cortex, to map brain functions during a craniotomy for tumor removal:

An awake craniotomy with intraoperative neuropsychological monitoring and brain mapping is still the gold standard for resections of tumors in or near eloquent areas of the brain. Since it has been shown by several authors that an awake craniotomy is the only way to reliably preserve speech function during tumor resections, the benefits for patients undergoing such a procedure are obvious. ...when balancing the burdens of an awake craniotomy for a patient with the benefits of such a procedure, it becomes obvious that an awake craniotomy and here especially the awake–awake (= continuous awake craniotomy - CAC) method offer the best thinkable balance between an optimal tumor resection and the best possible preservation of cognitive functions.
awake neurosurgery Neurosurgery performed on a patient who is awake enough to describe sensations or contractions evoked by the surgeon who performs intraoperative electrocorticography and cortical mapping to better delineate tissue that can be removed. Awake neurosurgery helps minimise the loss of functional tissue.
additional ref:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-proced ... c-20384913

What this means in my view is that the locations of cognitive and speech functions are individual, and even an fMRI is not spatially resolved enough to map the brain of an individual.
“Oh for shame, how these mortals put the blame upon us gods, for they say evils come from us, when it is they rather who by their own recklessness win sorrow beyond what is given…”
~Homer

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Brigit Bara
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Re: The Full Implications of Neuroplasticity

Unread post by Brigit Bara » Thu Apr 04, 2019 12:36 pm

Additional neuroplasticity research supporting individualized brain organization:

"As Milner, Squire, and Kandel have noted, 'recent work on plasticity in the sensory cortices has introduced the idea that the structure of the brain, even in sensory cortex, is unique to each individual and dependent on each individual's experiential history.' Thus the structure and function of the brain are shaped by experience."

~Siegel, Daniel J.. The Developing Mind, 1999. emphasis added
“Oh for shame, how these mortals put the blame upon us gods, for they say evils come from us, when it is they rather who by their own recklessness win sorrow beyond what is given…”
~Homer

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Brigit Bara
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Re: The Full Implications of Neuroplasticity

Unread post by Brigit Bara » Thu Apr 04, 2019 1:27 pm

Some of the most important implications of neuroplasticity in my view are:

1. The human brain is self-organized and structured by individual experience, use and expertise.
2. Intelligence is not a fixed trait which may be quantified by an IQ test, but is variable across the lifetime.
3. Intelligence is not by any stretch of the imagination a genetic trait.
4. The human brain is shaped and structured by close attachments (or the lack of), by hard-won progress in one's chosen interest (esp. outside of formal education), and by a good diet not lacking in superior proteins, B12 (animal products), etc..
5. Bad wiring which causes unproductive trigger responses and unwanted behavior can be detected, identified, and re-wired by the individual (yay!), usually in the context of a close relationship.
6. Other

Each of these are supported by extensive research and references in many fields.
“Oh for shame, how these mortals put the blame upon us gods, for they say evils come from us, when it is they rather who by their own recklessness win sorrow beyond what is given…”
~Homer

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GaryN
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Re: The Full Implications of Neuroplasticity

Unread post by GaryN » Thu Apr 04, 2019 9:59 pm

We are told that we only use 10% of our brains, looks like that is all we need to function normally.

Scientific mystery: Man living with 90% of his brain missing
https://bigthink.com/paul-ratner/the-me ... in-missing
In order to change an existing paradigm you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete. -Buckminster Fuller

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