It is as if the brain is a vast ﬂoodplain. One year the water might run eastward in a series of small channels; the next it might cut a river deep through the center. A year later, and a map of the ﬂoodplain looks completely different: streams are meandering to the west. It is the same with a brain, the argument goes. Change the input—be it a behavior, a mental exercise, such as calculating a tip or playing a new board game, or a physical skill— and the brain changes accordingly. Magnetic resonance imaging machines reveal the new map: different regions light up. And Merzenich and others who work in this ﬁeld of neuroplasticity are not just talking about young brains, about the still developing infant or child brain, able to learn a ﬁrst language and then a second in a single bound. These researchers are describing old brains, adult brains, your brain.
This image of the brain as a landscape, molded into a new form as its inputs change, offers an extremely hopeful and optimistic view for our lives. It suggests that we aren’t hindered forever by a difficult childhood, or a tendency toward anger. It suggests we can always improve.
Just as a floodplain changes according to external, physical elements, we can be radically changed with the help of the Holy Spirit. It’s not only possible, but required by God to become different through conversion. We have the responsibility to decide how to invoke that change in our lives on a day-to-day basis, according to our knowledge of God. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
- Functional Brain Changes Following Cognitive and Motor Skills Training (handtutorblog.wordpress.com)
- Neuroplasticity: enormous implications for anyone who has been labeled with a psychiatric illness (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)