Brain Rigeneration and Neuroplasticity — How much can we learn?

Most probably you are able to learn to do this

Something like this is possible because of our mind and its ability to learn things that we couldn’t do or think of. How much we can learn?

Intelligence can be measured in many different ways including one’s capacity for logic, abstract thought, understanding, self-awareness, communication, emotional knowledge,memory, planning, creativity, problem solving and learning.

It can be more generally described as the ability to perceive information, and retain it as knowledge to be applied towards adaptive behaviors within an environment.

Something to keep in mind when thinking of how we learned new skills in our evolution process.

The ability of learning has been fundamental for our existence, and in the time we managed to intensify this process through acquiring new know-how and experience that made our life simpler and longer.

According to the neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Huzel the evolution of our brain was possible also because from a certain point on we were able to pre-digest our food by cooking it, optimising the digestive process still giving our brain the energy it needed for all its processes.

But what happens on a grey matter level?

Our brain is full of neurons, nerve-cells able to transmit electrochemical inputs, the neurotransmitters, also from one side to another of the brain through the Corpus Callosum that would make the connection among them possible.

We actually have a limited knowledge of what happens in our brain, but we know that different parts of our brain are involved in different processes, that would involve different senses, or different human abilities and skills, or feelings.

Let’s have a deeper look on our brain matter.

The Lobes

Different parts of our brain are responsible for different functions. We can divide these parts in lobes.

4 in total: the Frontal Lobe, the Parietal Lobe, the Temporal Lobe, the Occipital Lobe.

The Occipital Lobe is mainly responsible for processing visual informations from the eyes such as colors, position of objects and motor actions.

It would be particularly active in case of reaction to outside stimuli for example, or essential to have a sense of space and distances, important for us to perform basic movement actions, like walking.

The Parietal Lobe integrates sensory information among various modalities, including spatial sense and navigation (proprioception), the main sensory receptive area for the sense of touch. The major sensory inputs from the skin (touch, temperature, and pain receptors), relay through the thalamus to the parietal lobe. Also, several areas of the parietal lobe are important in language processing.

The temporal lobe communicates with the hippocampus and plays a key role in the formation of explicit long-term memory.

The frontal lobe contains most of the dopamine-sensitive neurons in the cerebral cortex. The dopamine system is associated with reward,attention, short-term memory tasks, planning, and motivation.

There are then The Cerebellum and the brain Stem.

The Cerebellum is a sort of coordinator of all the inputs coming from our own brain or from the environment. For example in response of having the feeling of touching a super hot surface, that tactile feeling from our hand would pass through the spinal cord, get to the cerebellum to then involve other parts of the brain and make sure to have a reaction coordinated, precise and timely accurated to such stimula.

The brain stem make possible most of the function of our body that most of us would give for granted.

People affected by brain stem injuries can have problems with breathing, keeping the balance, swallowing, perform any movement.

Learning — Neuroplasticity

Our brain is a learning machine. It starts to learn from the very beginning of our life.

Learning to make more precise movements, like to walk, to drive a car, to drive a car or a bicycle, they are all things we learn in different stages of our life, and as we learn how to stand, walk and then run, we can add more levels of complexity to a bunch of other basic learning experiences…

This sounds quite obvious… It’s something we give for granted, but what eventually some of us would not give for granted is that this process on a neuronal level has a name: Neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity is an umbrella term to describe the changing of the brain in an animal life.

Is the ability of our brain to adapt himself eventually changing his structure.

Here is some practical application of all this!

At an earlier stage, from 0 to 20–25 years old approximately, our brain would still be busy in building up its own machinery, so changes to brain structure at any level from the single neuron to a cortex level are more likely to happen.

In cases of severe brain injuries the brain is able to replace the damaged parts with other ones.

The Human echolocation is a learned ability for humans to sense their environment from echoesis a learned ability for humans to sense their environment from echoes.

Blind people use this ability to navigate their environment

With the help of functional magnetic resonance imaging it has been observed that the click-echoes heard by these patients were processed by brain regions devoted to vision rather than audition.

Another example of neuroplasticity has been found in London taxi drivers. A cab driver’s hippocampus — the part of the brain that holds spatial representation capacity — is measurably larger than that of a bus driver. By driving the same route every day, the bus drivers don’t need to exercise this part of the brain as much. The cabbies, on the other hand, rely on it constantly for navigation. 
-The Big Think

We can have more control of our brain than we think.

Neuroplasticity is a process that naturally happens in everyone of us and our brain is able to repair itself, but just not enough.

Regenerate, repair brain cells looks getting closer and closer to us, if doctor Chandran is right we will be able in a near future to repair the damaged cells with new cells that would be able to be prepared outside the one’s body to then be implanted back into the patience.

That’s pretty cool right? Our brain can do all these things with just 85 billion neurons.

Repetita iuvant, but nothing excludes that sooner than what we think new ways to learn and to trigger neuroplasticity would be found either to replace damaged areas of the brain or to create new connections, and with them new learning processes and new ways to optimise any brain activity.

How much we can learn?

It’s estimated that our brain capacity could be concretely calculated observing that Each neuron forms about 1,000 connections to other neurons, amounting to more than a trillion connections. 
If each neuron could only help store a single memory, running out of space would be a problem.

You might have only a few gigabytes of storage space, similar to the space in an iPod or a USB flash drive.

Yet neurons combine so that each one helps with many memories at a time, exponentially increasing the brain’s memory storage capacity to something closer to around 2.5 petabytes (or a million gigabytes).

For comparison, if your brain worked like a digital video recorder in a television, 2.5 petabytes would be enough to hold three million hours of TV shows. You would have to leave the TV running continuously for more than 300 years to use up all that storage.

We are able of greater things than what we think, but just if we don’t get lazy on the way :D

-Fran