Until recently, scientists believed that once the human brain is fully matured in one’s mid-twenties, no new brain cells (neurons) are produced (that is, no further “neurogenesis”) and the wiring of the brain is set for life (no “neuroplasticity”). Groundbreaking research over the past few decades has established the contrary conclusion: You continuously grow new neurons in certain parts of your brain and you constantly re-wire the connections and networks in your brain throughout your life. With attention and intention, you can physically re-wire your brain to better serve your goals and to become your ideal self. And with physical exercise, you can actually grow the size of your hippocampus, a critical brain region responsible for memory and other important functions.
Billions of neurons in our brains communicate with each other through electrical and chemical impulses. When one neuron fires, it sends neurotransmitters to another neuron, which not only may trigger the second neuron to fire, but also encourages the second neuron to become more receptive to that triggering neurotransmitter in the future. Repeating patterns of neuronal activity result in Long Term Potentiation (LTP), altering the brain in a way that establishes an efficient and sometimes automatic response to the repeated stimulus. Metaphorically, LTP establishes a path in the snow, so that use of the path will be more likely than other routes through the snow and make the journey easier and quicker each time the path is used. Using Partners in Thought® tools of the mind, our clients actually can change the physical structure of their brains through self-directed neuroplasticity. One such tool from the field of neuro-linguistic programming (which can be enhanced through self-hypnosis), is “anchoring,” whereby the coach and client use an external stimulus to trigger a desired internal emotional state. The more repetition or intensity, the greater the strength of the new neural pathway and the new habit of mind. Another is meditation, which, over time, establishes neural pathways that improve concentration, mindfulness, and self-control.