In the last twenty plus years, with the new technology available, we can prove that the brain has what is known as plasticity. In the 1950s and 1960s when the NeuroDevelopmental Approach began, most science-based information about the brain’s ability to change and grow (plasticity) was only from observing behavior and function. At that time, many neuroscientists thought that the adult brain was hard wired by about 20 years of age and there was not much that could be done to improve its function. Now we know that the brain can change and grow new neural pathways well into ones 60’s, 70’s, or even 80’s. This concept will make sense to you when you think of a stroke victim regaining function. What happened is that the healthy part of the brain, when given good stimulation, took over the function of the damaged part.
You might ask, why is this important for me as a parent of a school aged child?
The sad news is, our society is experiencing an unprecedented percentage of children having learning struggles or learning disabilities. Families are reeling under the challenges of bright children struggling academically and behaviorally. They are looking to physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, tutors and curriculum creators for answers. The answer really lies in the brain and the brain’s plasticity.
Based on the understanding of brain plasticity, The NeuroDevelopmental (ND) Approach to Life has answers that go beyond counseling, medications and coping and compensating techniques offered by curriculums and tutors. Using the three keys to learning: frequency, intensity, and duration to develop new pathways in the brain, the ND Approach can advance the function of children or adults struggling with learning issues. These three keys applied to the root cause of functional challenges make actually changes in the brain’s circuitry so more mature function can happen. The brain and body are intricately interrelated. For example the proper connections in the tactile system are necessary for moving your body through space (coordination) and control the fine motor ability of handwriting just to name a couple. Writing on a line is dependent on proper visual function and the ability to feel the pencil in your hand (tactility). Following directions is reliant on the individual’s auditory short term memory that holds all the pieces of the instruction together. On and on the interdependencies of the different areas of function go. To change the abilities, each area needs to be stimulated to grow new connections. This is done with the three keys. Frequency being how often something is done. Intensity is how strongly the information is given to the brain. Duration has two aspects, short periods of time for each frequency and over a period of days, weeks or months.
The neurons are building blocks of the brain pathways. The connections or pathways between neurons are like road maps in your brain. These neuropathways connect one brain cell to another. When you have more pathways (built by stimulation), your brain can take the most efficient “road” to better performance in all areas.
We are truly fearfully and wonderfully made by our creator. The typical brain has a hundred billion neurons (brain cells) and each of those neurons have between one and ten thousand electrical connections (dendrites) to other neurons. The growth of these dendrites comes from experiences or stimulation. You might ask, which is most important to the development of intelligence or ability? Heredity or Environment? Dr. Suzuki said, “Our environment shapes who we are and can stunt or promote our mental development.” So, the answer to the question of which is most important is simulation. Simulation comes from what we received from our environment. It can be an enriched environment or a deprived environment. The results show up in brain function regardless of intelligence.
The NeuroDevelopmental Approach equips parents to change the function of their children. To learn more about how you can help your gifted, typically developing, or challenged learners to maximize their abilities, call for a Free Consultation. The dedicated staff at Brain Sprints will guide you to resources that can assist you. You can also visit www.BrainSprints.com to hear experience of other families that have used the NeuroDevelopmental Approach.