Change in environment, behavior, emotions, thinking and even bodily injury can result in modifications in the neural pathways and synapses in the human brain. This phenomenon, an umbrella term for both, synaptic and non-synaptic plasticity, is known as neuroplasticity or brain plasticity. This unique characteristic of brain function is a key reason behind a human being’s high adaptability to new situations and experiences.
Neuroplasticity allows the brain to adapt based on habits, circumstances, or almost any activity a person engages in every day. This is highly advantageous through an evolutionary standpoint, as the human brain will adapt to ensure maximum efficiency in the face of unexpected changes. In most recent observations, it is interesting to note how modern technology is playing a huge role in the ‘rewiring’ of our brains through neuroplasticity.
For instance, a recent study purported that using smartphones daily was changing the shape of traditional sensory processing. What this means is, the more we use our thumbs on touchscreen surfaces, the more our brain is rewiring the neural pathways associated with sensory perception. Simply put, extensive use of a smartphone screen may actually change how our brains and thumbs work together. And researchers believe that such a change in sensory perception can bring about a slow evolution for our species in the future, with traits that are more favorable to rapidly changing technology.
Another illustration where change in brain plasticity has been observed in, is gaming. Avid gamers will agree that playing video games has improved their ability to grasp spacial and logical understanding and has honed their motor skills. Using this principle as the base, researchers experimented with gaming to aid persons with learning disabilities. They modified traditional games and made them interactive to suit patients afflicted with cerebral palsy-with astonishing results. While doctors predicted the deterioration of brain tissue, patients playing these interactive games showed a slower deterioration rate along with improved control of actions and higher mental processing.
Other cases that can be cited involve people who suffer from accident-related physical and mental disabilities. It has been seen that upon using gaming software, they had a much faster rate of improvement than previously predicted and showed better cognitive abilities. Elsewhere, a professor from a university talked about how gaming helped players become better decision makers due to the nature of the games they played.
Such instances prove how modern technology can alter brain function with enormous benefit. And the link between improved and adaptive brain function and technology can be clearly demonstrated.
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