Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity is the ability of our brains to act and react in ever-changing ways. When you learn a new word your brain creates connections, called synapses, to record that word. If you use it repeatedly your brain will increase the strength of the synapses and make a stronger connection. This process is called synaptic plasticity.

synapse is a junction that permits a neuron to pass an electrical or chemical signal to another cell. The cells are not physically connected; the signal is passed from one cell to another via electrically charged ions and molecules.

Healthy brains have lots of synaptic plasticity because their “owners” are constantly doing things that stretch their brains — exercise, reading, social engagement and learning new ideas. Synaptic connections are also essential to building long-term memories of faces and words, for example.

Golf coaches remind students that a new swing change will take lots of practice before it becomes established as part of the student’s normal swing. That’s because the brain needs to build stronger synapses so that the new swing becomes consistent. Golf coach Martin Hall says, “Practice makes permanent.” It takes lots of repetitions to make it permanent.

What happens if you learn a new word and then never use it again? Your brain senses that the connection is not being used and prunes it; hence that well-known saying, “Use it or lose it.” The same is true for an activity you did years ago repeatedly and then stopped doing; over time you’ll lose it. The same will be true for the golf swing change if you don’t practice.

If you want to retain something new that you’ve learned, repetition is the key. If you want to retain some information or skill you currently have, the same rule of repetition applies — do it again and again.

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