Neuroplasticity is the ability of the nervous system to respond to intrinsic or extrinsic stimuli by reorganizing its structure, function and connections.

It is powerful!!

Early research believed that the brain did not have the ability to create new neural pathways to adapt as it needed to.

Subsequent research on neuroplasticity has confirmed the brain’s ability to change in response to stress, injury, thoughts or disease.

Current research suggests that conditions within us and in our environment such as thought processes, social interactions, challenging experiences and even oxygen can play a crucial role in brain cell survival and the formation of connections.

One of the most powerful methods of neuroplasticity is habit forming. For habits to form successfully, it is important to create a habit loop. A habit loop is four-step process:

  1. Cue
  2. Trigger
  3. Reward
  4. Craving

The first step is a cue (which is the signal), the second a trigger (set in motion) and the third a reward (which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future). There must also be something that powers the habit loop. This is called a craving. The craving is what makes cues and rewards work.

Some of the areas in the brain responsible for habit learning are the dorsal corticostriatal loops (corticostriatal synapses receive dopaminergic input), basal ganglia and hippocampus. So it is complex and this is why it is so difficult to just ignore bad habits, or create new ones.

So in essence, for an old habit to be unlearned and a new habit to be formed, the process of neuroplasticity works like this:

  1. Neurogenesis (continuos generation of new neurons)
  2. New thoughts/reframing
  3. New synapse (new neural pathways are created through new experience)
  4. Strengthened synapse (repetition of new experience)
  5. Weakened synapse (old experiences start fading away)

Neuroplasticity is truly powerful and it works.

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