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Brain Plasticity

The whole Science of Cognitive Psychology is built upon the idea that we are born with a family quality of intelligence, which develops through environmental experience. However, as we examined in Intelligence: The Great Lie, there is no real evidence to this explanation, once the whole history behind it is well understood. Therefore, the question arises as to how do we actually have intelligence, when the genes themselves only enable the feature to exist but do not provide a platform of ability themselves?

After all, this is so for very many of our features that enable us to interact with the environment, such as language and emotion. Both of these develop purely through environmental experience and both are totally open ended in their development throughout life.

It was to answer this that we wrote the book Brain Plasticity, as an introduction to the Brain Environment Complex. This was a necessary introduction to draw attention to what this book is actually about. The idea of brain plasticity is that the brain is able to be modified by experience, but as we shall see this explanation is far from adequate. It is not, as is commonly thought, that the genetically designed brain is modified through environmental experience but that it is created totally by it from the earliest times of life. First in the womb, but then much more throughout the lifetime of the individual.

In this book, you will find little known examples of the brain learning to function in ways thought impossible. One case will discuss how the brain of a man was so much destroyed, he only had 5% remaining, that he was impossibly able to demonstrate an abnormally high intelligence. Not only did he score 125 in an IQ test but he also gained a 1st class honors with a mathematics degree. As we will see, once it is understood how the brain can be a consequence of the mind, a whole new understanding of intelligence can emerge.

With 40 years dedicated to how the operations of the brain are shaped through the mind’s perspective of the environment, the author brings forth a new understanding to how we can raise the intelligence of the child for school and that of the adult as a citizen worker.

This book should be mandatory reading for psychologists, educators at every level and all parents, since it not only demands new ways of teaching but more importantly brings serious interest to how we can better prepare the intelligence of the child of today for the future competition that will await them in their world dominated by artificial intelligence.

3.3 The Plasticity of Intelligence:

“When Cajal made our first study of brain cell organization in the 1880s, he was struck by  the plasticity of the brain, which, as we have just mentioned, is the ready ability of neurons to reorganize themselves. More recently we became aware of neural decay, and as we have seen this helped to prompt the belief in critical periods. However, we are now beginning to understand that Cajal may have had more insight than has been realized, for as our  technology ever increases so are we beginning to realize the ability of neurons to regenerate themselves.

Accordingly, it has become realized that neurons can re-grow an axon that has been removed, and there is increasing evidence that the central nervous system does have an inherent capacity to regenerate. myelinating cells. Instances have been discovered where certain types of neural damage have been repaired by spontaneous remyelination. Myelin, we may recall, is the fatty sheath that insulates a nerve cell and enables it to conduct a signal. When this sheath breaks down, as it does through hereditary metabolic disorders such as adrenoleukolystrophy (as was the case with the child in the film Lorenzo’s Oil), or through acquired diseases such as multiple sclerosis, nerve cells fail to conduct their signals to each other and a break down of the nervous system arises. It was in seeking to combat this excessive demyelination, that research in the nervous system showed the possibility of reversing this process by transplanting myelin producing cells from the Peripheral to the Central Nervous System. Such Schwann cells have been found to reproduce themselves when placed in the CNS with the ability to migrate to the defective myelin cells and repair them. Knowledge such as this, aided with reports that the drug metformin used by diabetics has the capability to cause new neurons to form, helps us to understand how neurons may repair themselves and grow to repair existing circuitry or create new circuitry if the conditions allow. When we discuss this sense of flexibility, which again emphasizes the unknown property of the gene, we find ourselves returning to the image of brain plasticity that Cajal so strongly advocated.

It is not then, that the brain is fixed in its orientation, or that critical periods exist as Hubel and Wiesel claimed for vision, and as Lenneberg believed for language. In consequence, there are no critical periods for music, mathematics, or any aspect of intelligence…..

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    What People Sat

    “The most important books I have ever read about a child’s intelligence.”
    Prof. Tatyana Oleinik
    Pedagogical University. Ukraine
    “The books of Roy Andersen are very important books that should be read by every parent and educator in the world. They represent a real breakthrough in our understanding of what intelligence is and how it develops, and the importance of changing the ways students are both parented and educated. Roy is doing for learning the work that is as significant as was that done in the past by such figures as John Dewey. These are must-reads for both parents and educators alike.”
    Prof / Dean Emeritus David Martin Ph.D
    Gallaudet University Washington, D.C. USA
    “These books are never dull, not even for a moment. Beautifully written! Roy has written in such a way that anyone can pick up his books and understand where he is coming from and where he is going in his thoughts, that offer profound insight into what is wrong with school, and why we need to change the ways we are preparing our children for the world they will live in.
    Rachel Wong
    Principal. Malaysia