The human nervous system, which of course includes the human brain, is entirely plastic. This fact, like many ‘re-discovered truths’, was already known by the thinkers of ancient Greece. In his account of human nature Plato often emphasizes the role of education and stresses the plasticity of human nature in childhood. Aristotle also emphasises the same thing and gives us a very good explanation of it through his concept of habit.
More recently, Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz – a leading expert in neuroplasticity and author of ‘You Are Not Your Brain’, has developed his own method for changing the neural pathways or ‘re-wiring’ parts of the brain. He refers to this as neuroplasticity which is self-directed.
This shows us that our thinking and our imagination have the power to physically change the structure and function of our brains, no matter how old we are.
To some people this was obvious way before Dr. Schwartz’s research. The life work of F.M. Alexander, for example, is in many respects a practical demonstration of Aristotle’s thinking on the plasticty of the human nervous system. In his book about Genius (Buzan’s Book of Genius.) Tony Buzan quoted F.M.Alexander:
“We can throw away the habit of a lifetime in a few minutes if we use our brains.”
We need to stop misuse and abuse of our our brain (and other organs), and enhance good use. Good use allows value to grow instead of bad habits. The last stage of Dr. Schwartz’s 4 step process is about what he calls re-valuation. Reinstating value is crucial
‘Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”