I am hooked on the field of neuroscience! How nerve cells (neurons) in our brain are wired together and how they determine the way we think? It’s fascinating to read that we have about 100 billion neurons in our brain and that with every sensation, thought, feeling and experience, our brain lights up with electrical activity. When a neuron fires, an electrochemical wave ripples through it – just imagine the bursts of activity going on in your head as you read this blog!
Each neuron is then able to link up with 10,000 to 100,000 others across gaps called synapses (through neuro-transmitter chemicals), at speeds of up to thirty two kilometers per hour! In the words of Ruby Wax: ‘Whatever you’re using or thinking about is reflected in areas lighting up in your brain and you can watch this firework display during brain scanning’. Wow!
Modern f MRI technologies enable real life understanding of how the brain works through measuring and mapping of brain activity. Through amazing research in this field, we now know that our brain has the ability to change throughout life and is what we call ‘neuroplastic’. It has this incredible ability to form new connections, and the more effort we put into practicing something, the stronger these new links become.
I’m curious about how we can use this knowledge in our academic life. When we learn anything new, neurons connect – and memory is made possible because we study new facts over and over. Picture this – the synapses actually change shape over time to speed up the learning and to increase the firing and lay down new wiring! You’ll often hear neuroscientists say “Neurons that fire together, wire together!’
The exciting thing here is that it’s never too late to start learning, to sign up for that course or diploma that caught your eye and get those neurons firing and wiring! Follow your dreams and your passion – find a course that immerses you in something that interests you. The world’s oldest university graduate is proof that you are never too old to learn. Allan Stewart graduated from Southern Cross University with a Master of Clinical Science in 2012, and he was 97! I know that I cherished my mature age experience of studying a Master of Counseling degree and ‘firing and wiring up’ again! My wonderful job involves learning every day – that’s why I am so passionate about it!
When I look around me, I marvel at those people doing computer courses, learning floristry skills, mastering bridge or studying a language. There are endless opportunities to shake up those neurons to fire and wire. In UBalancer language, we call this the Self-Improvement life role, and it is one of the most important in terms of our mental health. To change our brain, we need to put effort into learning new skills, staying curious and scanning our world for opportunities to keep learning.
I hope UBalancer is able to motivate you to think about the following questions:-
- What am I passionate about?
- If there were no obstacles in my way, what path of study would I take on right now?
- What difference would new learning make to my life?
- Who would notice a change in me? What would they see?
- On a scale of 0 to 10, how curious am I about the world around me?
- What am I currently doing for myself in my Self-Improvement life role?
- Who should I chat to so that I can find out what courses are on offer?
- How much effort am I prepared to put into this new learning?
- How will I plan to celebrate when I reach my goals?