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What is Neuroplasticity?

Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life.

 

Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment.

 

Brain reorganization takes place by mechanisms such as "axonal sprouting" in which undamaged axons grow new nerve endings to reconnect neurons whose links were injured or severed. Undamaged axonscan also sprout nerve endings and connect with other undamaged nerve cells, forming new neural pathways to accomplish a needed function.

 

For example, if one hemisphere of the brain is damaged, the intact hemisphere may take over some of its functions. The brain compensates for damage in effect by reorganizing and forming new connections between intact neurons. In order to reconnect, the neurons need to be stimulated through activity.

 

Neuroplasticity sometimes may also contribute to impairment. For example, people who are deaf may suffer from a continual ringing in their ears (tinnitus), the result of the rewiring of brain cells starved for sound. For neurons to form beneficial connections, they must be correctly stimulated.

 

Neuroplasticity is also called brain plasticity or brain malleability.

Gluten Free Recipe:

Spinach & Goat Cheese Tart in a Potato Crust

Serves 6 to 8

 

Thinly sliced potatoes make a savory (and gluten-free!) crust for a spinach, ricotta and goat cheese filling.

Ingredients:

5 to 6 medium Yukon gold potatoes (about 2 pounds)

2 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

divided 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

1 bunch spinach, stems removed, leaves thinly sliced and rinsed but not dried

6 ounces fresh goat cheese

crumbled 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Sea salt, to taste

Ground pepper, to taste

Butter for the pan

 

Directions:

Peel potatoes and slice into 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a wide skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add a layer of potatoes to the pan and cook, turning once, 3 to 4 minutes per side, until golden and easily pierced with a knife. Set aside on a plate lined with a paper towel. Repeat with remaining potatoes.

 

When potatoes are done, add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Add garlic and cook until lightly golden and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add spinach, with water still clinging to the leaves, and cook until bright green and tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the spinach to a bowl and add goat cheese, ricotta, eggs, lemon zest and juice. Stir to combine well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350°F. To assemble the tart, lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan. Line the pan with potatoes, covering the bottom and sides completely, overlapping slices for complete coverage. Pour in spinach-goat cheese mixture. Bake until firm and golden, 50 to 60 minutes.

Release the spring from the pan and gently lift off the sides. Set the tart on a plate, slice and serve immediately.

Upcoming Session Dates

for the Sensory Learning Program

 

 Monday, January 23 through Friday, February 3

 

Monday, February 6 through Friday, February 17

 

Monday, February 20 through Friday, March 2

 

Monday, March 5 through Friday, March 16

 

Monday, March 19 through Friday, March 30

Did You Know?

 

SIRRI offers these services for both children & adults:

  • Neurofeedback & Biofeedback
  • qEEG / Brain Mapping
  • Cognitive Retraining: memory, processing & problem solving skills
  • Attention, Concentration & Focus Training
  • Auditory & Visual Processing
  • Reading Development: fluency & comprehension
  • Balance, Coordination & Motor Planning Development
  • Stress & Anxiety Management
  • IEP Advocacy

 

 

 

 

Information Session

 

 

Tuesday, January 17th

6:30 PM - 8:30 PM

 

More Information


Please contact SIRRI

at (480) 777-7075 or e-mail

to reserve your seat(s).


If you are unable to attend,

please call for a free

one-on-one Consultation

 WHY PARENTS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT NEUROPLASTICITY

By Nancy Sokol Green

 

 www.specialeducationadvisor.com

 

Four words revolutionize how we now view and help kids with special needs: The brain can change. 

 

That’s a powerful statement with huge implications.

Only a few decades ago, scientists were convinced the brain was hard-wired . . .  that was until modern technology, such as MRIs and PET scans, proved otherwise.  With the same certainty that we know the sun rises, we now also know that the brain has the ability to change and re-organize itself. This phenomenon is called neuroplasticity.

 

So what does that mean to a family with a child with autism or ADD or apraxia or dyslexia or any other diagnosis?

 

It means that such kids may not have to spend an entire lifetime compensating. It means that it’s possible to inhibit retained primitive reflexes and complete lower brain development, even if such neural networks were not established during the first year of life. It means that it’s possible to experience a completely different life once the brain is organized and functioning the way it’s intended.

 

In other words, how we act is not necessarily a reflection of who we were meant to be.  It may actually only be an indication of how our brain is presently wired—and that can change.

 

It turns out that brain organization in the first year of life sets the stage for all future brain development. If babies are placed on their stomachs during the majority of this time, the brain has a chance to make key neural connections. This early network then forms an important foundation from which the brain continues to develop and organize itself in the most efficient way.

 

But what if that first year development is incomplete? 

Well, the child still gets upright—but without many of the basic brain functions related to early development. This then becomes a problem because such functions are intended to be automatic whenever the child interacts with others, writes, reads, processes information, and does everything else in his life.

Moreover, since these basic functions are important and often related to survival, the cortex (the higher centers of the brain) is now preoccupied with finding ways to compensate for those missing functions.  So how might that create chaos?

 

Well, suppose someone asks us to do another person’s job (which we are not qualified to do) while still expecting us to fulfill our duties at our current job. What’s likely to happen? We surely won’t succeed at the new job, and there will be a decline in our performance at our current job.  It’s not that we’ve suddenly become incompetent. No, we’re just being torn in too many directions at the same time to now show what we’re capable of doing. The same scenario parallels what happen when a child is trying to function with a cortex that is trying to pick up the slack for incomplete lower brain development.

 

But most people aren’t aware of the connection between behavior and incomplete development of the lower centers of the brain. So when we don’t get the behavior we want, we often assume that a diagnosis is the reason we shouldn’t expect otherwise or the child just isn’t trying hard enough.  In fact, we’re all conditioned to believe that if we try—and try again and again—we will succeed. However, nothing could be further from the truth if certain brain development is not yet complete.

 

That means it’s very possible we know kids who are working harder than we’ve imagined and who are capable of doing more than what we observe.  That’s why we need to know about neuroplasiticity.

If given a chance, the brain is capable of finishing whatever development wasn’t completed the first time around. It’s even clever enough to form alternate new routes, if necessary.  In other words, it’s possible to organize the brain—at any age—so that it works more efficiently.

 

And once the brain is organized, a whole new set of possibilities emerge. What was once deemed impossible is now a reality.

 

Sound too far-fetched? Not when we consider that most traditional approaches address the cortex, rather than focus on inhibiting retained primitive reflexes and developing lower centers of the brain.  Such approaches are analogous to trying to fix a toaster by repeatedly polishing the exterior when, in fact, several interior wires are loose. In such case, if we just connect those loose wires, who’s surprised to learn that the very same toaster now produces toast?

 

Is it hard to wrap our head around the idea that the brain can truly change . . . and to even ponder a different life for our child?  Absolutely.  After all, we’ve probably had high hopes before—only to be disappointed and heartbroken when nothing really improved.

 

So if we find ourselves in that protective, not-so-open mindset, Norman Doidge’s The Brain That Changes Itself may be helpful. In this easy-to-read book, Doidge documents current research on neuroplasticity, alongside case studies of people with learning disabilities and strokes—all who experienced the brain can change.

 

Without question, the parents of special needs children spend an inordinate amount of money and time helping their children. With such extraordinary commitment and dedication already place, it seems almost unfair if the topic of neuroplasticity isn’t, at least, on such parents’ radar.  

 

Moreover, if we remain in the dark, we won’t be able to consider how to apply this phenomenon of the brain to our own child’s life. 

 

And as an extra gift, wouldn’t it be great if special needs kids were among the first to teach and prove to other families . . . the brain can change.

SIRRI Arizona • 4515 S. McClintock Drive, Suite 208 • Tempe, AZ 85282
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