Once upon a time in the far distant past of medieval medicine (pre-1960’s) doctors and scientists thought this to be true, and so the world thought this to be true. This belief has now gone the way of other beliefs like margarine is good for us, or little green men live on Mars.
Since the swingin’ sixties, the term neuroplasticity was added to the dictionary, defined as, “The ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury.” In other words, learning and challenging the brain creates new cells and lays new track, especially in our beloved hippocampus. Scientists now know we can build up brain capacity until the very end. Even when some parts of our brains diminish due to injury, illness, or disease, if we continue to feed our heads, our brains will respond positively.
More evidence comes from the fifteen-year Nun Study conducted at the University of Kentucky, which studied over 650 Catholic sisters, aged 75 to 107, who were members of the Notre Dame congregation. All lived very similar lives and each had annual cognitive and physical evaluations throughout the study.
Researchers found that women who were more inclined to learn throughout their lives showed far less incidence of Alzheimer’s than those sisters who were less keen on learning new things. Just another example of how miraculous the human body is and how once again, the adage proves true: “Use it, or lose it.” Today, neuroplasticity is an accepted fact that we hope debunks this myth once and for all.
Repeat after me, “I am NOT stuck with the brain I was born with!”