Neuroplasticity – your adaptive brain Part 1
In order to understand the basis of our true individuality, how we perceive the world in our own unique fashion, how we are physically sculpted by our past, formed by the life we lead and have led, it is vital to understand the phenomenon called neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity, put simply, is the ability of our nervous systems to adapt and grow, to learn and memorize, to develop from a baby into an adult, to remember the cringe-worthy moments, and the beautiful ones, even to develop pain in limbs that are no longer there. So how does this work?
First of all, you need to understand that each of us has a nervous system, that this nervous system covers the whole of you, inside and out, there is not one part of your whole being that is not permeated by nerve cells. If I were to strip away all your flesh and to leave behind nothing but your nervous system, I would see you standing there, as complete as if I had not removed a thing, a beautiful web of biological wires connecting everything to everything else. This is a web with a strict order; organized like a vertically floating octopus with a trillion tentacles.
The head of the octopus sits inside your skull, the tentacles of this complex octopus reach down the tube formed by your spine, out to the limbs, the skin, or wherever else that little tentacle is destined to touch.
At the ends of each of these tentacles are suckers; these suckers, receptors, are responsible for detecting information. This information may come from the world inside or the environment outside. These receptors communicate to the brain all the things we can feel, whether that is the soft touch of moss on bare feet in a sunlit woodland or the vibration of an electric toothbrush, the cold of the toes of a lover between your thighs or the intensity of the heat from a boiling cup of tea sipped to quickly. Some of the most sophisticated of these receptors are housed within their own unique organs, our eyes, ears, noses and tongues. These organs have been developed and refined over millennia to be experts at gathering information crucial for survival. It is this need to gather information that has sculpted these organs into the shapes we know well.