How To Get Smarter At Any Age With Brain Plasticity
Article at a glance
Until quite recently, it was thought that we were all born with a set number of brain cells, and they could not be replaced. The idea was that when you came into the world, you had a set level of intelligence, and that would not be changed. 
However, it is now known that our brain is continuously active, developing and exploring new ideas all the time! It’s a continual work in progress. This discovery has been known as the most important neuroscience breakthrough in 400 years. 
As we grow up, our brain also grows. Our brain has the potential to change, and it functions in a certain way, that it can become smarter over time. We are shaped by the world around us, and anything we wish to learn at any age. This is called brain plasticity, or neuroplasticity, and it means that we can increase our intelligence or ability to learn things at any point throughout our life!
It was previously thought that children, and young adults would be able to learn consistently, but then at one point, we simply stop learning new things. Throughout our lives, we have been told that as we grow older our brain gets slower. Or even at a certain age our brain gets fixed and there is not much room for improvement. But, thankfully studies show that our brain is constantly learning new things, reshaping what it learns. 
Brain plasticity is something beyond a fascinating idea. It can be applied to change your mind, and your life to make you smarter and happier and generally improve the way you view things! It means that as you become mentally fitter by learning new things, your ability to learn increases as well! It’s like when you get physically in shape and not only do you look better, but you have more energy, less joint pain, you’re stronger and so much more. The same happens with our brain – and we can get mentally fitter (or smarter) at any time we want!
How does brain plasticity work?
What makes our brain special is that it processes the ability to change, where it forms new brain cells (neurons) and new connections between the brain cells (neural connections), which improve the brain’s capabilities, throughout your life. Neural pathways connect different neurons which creates communication. These pathways are located in the brain and spinal cord. Our brain ensures that a certain area of the brain is responsible for a function of the body. For example, an area of the brain is responsible for moving your right arm.
Our brain is our wonderland! It signals our whole body from speaking, listening, eating and much more. Even the pain you feel in certain parts of your body is signalled through our brain abilities. If a person falls down onto the ground and goes “Ouch!” They feel emotional, disheartened or even annoyed. The sensation of pain is triggered and signalled through the brain.
It all comes down to the connections between neurons (brain cells). Brain plasticity can create new connections between neurons or improve the old ones. For example, once you have learned to ride a bike, that connection will always be in your brain, which is why you can get better at it again. This is an example of improving an old connection. But if you have never learned to ice skate before, this might take a lot longer as new neurons are connecting as your skill improves.
Brain plasticity pushes the brain to quickly form new connections or to rewire itself. Experts still haven't recognised the limit of brain abilities and capacity it can go through. Evidence does support the important process of neuroplasticity. 
This is excellent, as brain plasticity stems well beyond learning new things, it means that as we continue to learn things, our brain becomes faster at connecting neurons which means.
This means, when you have a highly plastic brain as you are always learning new things or mentally challenging yourself, you have the ability to learn things way quicker than someone else! Think about how children are often so quick at learning how the new TV/computer/car stereo works – it’s because their brain is so plastic that they have become really quick at learning things.
So to have a life with a lot more “A-ha” moments and quickly understanding and comprehending things, it is encouraged to try and bring a bit more intentional learning and brain plasticity into your life!
Brain Plasticity has enormous benefits:
- Ability to learn new things at a faster rate;
- Problem solving gets sharper and smarter;
- Improvement in social skills;
- Better mental drive and motivation;
- Ability to grow brain and think out of the box;
- Healing and recovering from brain injuries; and
- You are more focused.
Nutrients and supplements proven to boost brain health and encourage brain plasticity
Certain foods that can help boost your brain health and improve brain plasticity. By eating a nutritious diet, it can definitely help your brain as it upgrades its function each and every day.  We want to be eating a lot of different “brain foods” throughout our days and luckily a lot of them are pretty damn delicious.
Our brains are very dependent on fats (the good kinds) so we should incorporate healthy fats in our eating regime. Great fat sources can be avocado oil, eggs, fish, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and coconut oil. Supplementing with omega 3 fatty acids is a great way to support brain health (from fish oil supplements, or algae supplements). 
Aging is often linked with decline in brain plasticity. Consumption of vitamin C and E can be great from protecting the brain cells from damaging. They are also a great source for managing stress, slowing aging of body and mind, and feeling overall much healthier. 
How to improve brain plasticity and become smarter?
What are some exercises to boost brain plasticity? We hear you ask! Well there are thankfully many things you can do to improve the way your brain works!
Many studies are showing that daily exercises can improve your brain plasticity function and it also improves your memory and ability to learn new things quickly. Brain plasticity also prevents Alzheimer’s Disease.  
Get into some activities and develop a smarter version of you!
Here is a list of some neuroplasticity exercises:
- Using your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth, handwrite, or use the computer mouse. For bonus points - use your non-dominant foot to kick a ball, skateboard, snowboard, or surf. - This is a simple one, but it means your brain has to form new connections to do tasks you already knew how to do
- Exploring and travelling new places - They found that London cab drivers have a phenomenal brain due to the amount of connections formed as they know the city’s roads off by heart. So taking a different path home and relying on Google Maps a bit less is a good thing!
- Fasting for 12-24 hours (or even longer) - Fasting promotes neuron growth and adaptive responses in brain cells.
- Learn to play different musical instruments - Learning a new musical instrument pushes your brain to form new neural networks and can increase connectivity between different parts of the brain.
- Learning to dance or sing - Moving your body or modifying your voice to sing will create new neural networks and is also linked to improving happiness (through stimulating vagus nerve functionality). This has also been associated with decreased stress levels in the amygdala, the fear centre of the brain.
- Learning a new language - Learning new vocabulary increases and enhances brain connectivity.
- Getting quality sleep - While not really an “exercise,” sleep helps with learning and memory retention by transferring information across cells and growing connections between neurons.
Other amazing ways that can help are:
- Playing video games or board games involving strategy
- Making new friends
- Reading a book
- Exercise (for bonus points, learn a new sport)
Our brain is the supercomputer for our body and mind! When it performs well, our lives are amazing and boundless! Let's use it the right way and develop our brain for a better and a healthy future together!