It is now commonly accepted that the brain is plastic throughout the life span. We can grow neurons to replace the ones that die off, and the rate of growth is greatly determined by how we spend our daily hours. Exercise, mental stimulation, an enriched environment, and good nutrition dramatically affect our brain growth. Maintaining a positive attitude is also a great bonus in terms of getting smarter!
Conversely, chronic stress can actually cause the brain to shrink. Constant anxiety or stress increases certain brain chemicals which inhibit neuronal growth. Eventually this degrades the central nervous system’s ability to function efficiently. For example, people who live in war zones are under constant severe stress. This can have serious and adverse effects on the brain over time. Even under normal living conditions, a person can experience a great deal of internal stress, impairing learning and memory.
Bio and Neurofeedback have the ability to counteract the negative effects of chronic stress. Biofeedback allows a person to visualize their breathing and heart rate patterns, and then learn techniques to manage stress at will. Neurofeedback shows where dysfunctional brain wave patterns exist, and then guides the person to shift into a more positive state. The effects from both of these techniques can have life long benefits.