The purpose of this study is to review the history and research of implications within neuroplasticity and resiliency through the lifespan perspective. While there are small differences in the research result, overall there are some clear patterns which are repeated often. The article also focuses on a review of neuroplasticity and resiliency, changes over the course of a lifespan and rewiring the brain.
Keywords: neuroplasticity, resiliency, human development, lifespan perspective.
The Implications of Neuroplasticity and Resiliency and Research of Rewiring the Brain
As the evolution of psychology advances, different types of researchers have found new possible theories involving neuroplasticity and resiliency (Brendtro, 2012). The science of psychology has achieved many keystones, however the next milestone questions the limits of the brain. Is it possible for the brain to restructure itself, that being neurologically? Nonetheless, other researchers have originally studied resiliency towards understanding the reasons of adult mental illness. Much of their research has settled diversely and alike in addressing these three questions.
- A Review of Neuroplasticity and Resiliency
- Neuroplasticity: The Lifespan Perspective.
- Rewiring the Brain
A Review of Neuroplasticity and Resilienc
Throughout time, psychology has revolutionized to become multidirectional, multi-contextual, multidirectional, multidisciplinary and plastic (Nelson, 2006). In the lifespan perspective, longitudinal research conducted, and the input from researchers throughout time, has truly influenced the way people perceive and interpret the framework of psychology. Controversially known, resiliency and neuroplasticity have created keys superior knowledge to have a higher understanding of psychology. Meanwhile through the scientific method, new hypothesis are being proven and others are proven wrong.
The Perspectives of Resiliency.
The first longitudinal resilience study began in 1955 in the island of Kauai (Brendtro, 2012). The pioneers of resiliency included Norman Garmezy, Dr. Emmy Werner, Dr. Ruth Smith and Sir Michael Rutter. The research of these founders have influenced the research conducted over the questions of how the children who were labeled as vulnerable and the puzzling question on how they did exceedingly well, despite their odds. Throughout the half-century study in Kauai, many researchers who were interested, opted their opinions in the resiliency subject (Hunter, 2012). The term resiliency has evolved throughout time and per researcher. According to Kathleen Stassen Berger (2014), “Resiliency is the capacity to adapt well to significant adversity and overcome serious stress.” (p. 287). In other views, contrastingly, resiliency has been viewed as superior genetics and epigenetic.
Resilience: Adaptive Characteristics. Within resiliency, many researchers provide new and existing evidence, agreeing that resiliency has influence. Emily Bazelon’s article titled ‘A Question of Resilience’ demonstrated how ordinary people are able to exhibit resilience. “If you cope with terrible misfortune and live a relatively successful life as defined by mental health, success in school or at work or solid relationships,” (Bazelon, 2006).
The Perspectives of Neuroplasticity
The ideas on neuroplasticity have broadened, as the research comes from two different sides of science. The origins of the understanding of neuroplasticity can be found within the medical world of science. Karl Lashley was one of the first pioneers who researched neural pathways that can be altered and he concluded that the brain was plastic and some existing pathways could be repaired after a stroke with exercise (Flor, 2012). However, in the world of psychology, this term has become an umbrella type of term. According to Kathleen Stassen Berger’s (2014) definition on perspective, she defines it as:
The term plasticity denotes two complementary aspects of development: Human traits can be modeled and yet people maintain a certain durability of identity. The concept of plasticity in development provides both hope and realism. (p. 20)
There are some psychologists who view plasticity as the brains adaptability mechanism. Today there are researchers who advocate the research of neuroplasticity (Cliford, 1999).
Neuroplasticity: The Lifespan Perspective.
The research of neuroplasticity continues to give new insights on the possibilities that psychology and the brain can both adapt, change, learn and evolve. During the American Psychology Society’s 18th Annual Convention in 2006, researchers compiled their research. Leah Nelson’s article titled ‘A Learning Machine: Plasticity and Change throughout Life’ concluded her finding of the researchers who contributed their findings.
Adaptive skills through Darwin’s famous finches’ observations have broadened the perspectives of many science disciplines. Adaptive skills allow the brain to evolve, contrary in beliefs to some researchers, Nelson (2014) points out in her article. In Gregg Recanzone’s findings, she concluded Recanzone’s findings with, “although psychosocial deprivation was the main risk factor for all the deficits the children displayed, its effects are neither universal nor fixed — a challenge to what some developmental theories would predict most researchers would expect,” (Nelson, 2006). As example, Darwin found patterns in biological nature, however the findings were controversial to the world. Evolutionists and other researchers have theorized and found new supporting evidence to the original works, even if they were controversial.
Fortunately, numerous types of experimentation proceeded and influenced the views on neuroplasticity like Michael Merzenich’s research. He has tested his research with his own adaptive computer games that rejuvenate the brain, “Visual training resulted in increased plasticity equivalent to that of brains 25 years younger,” explained Nelson (Nelson, 2006).
Alison Gopnik has continued the research of Jean Piaget, with her experiments, she demonstrates altered perceptions of children and their abilities to assimilate and accommodate data. Walter Mischel also contributes information with his gratification exterminations; he talked about “Delay makes it possible for people to cool it if and when they want to,” Nelson added, “The degree of a child’s power to delay gratification at an early age is a good predictor of later coping ability (Nelson, 2006). All of the research has concluded unique points in Nelson’s point of view. However, once again in the lifespan perspective evidence may overlap and add new evidence.
Resiliency: Basis; Despite the broad umbrella of research within resiliency and neuroplasticity, both terms do have particular resemblance depending on their nourished terms. Emily Bazelon’s interpretations on resiliency differ within new genetic and epigenetic research. Within her article, she views the implications of genetic and epigenetic research with the influence of a few researchers. She wrote (Bazelon, 2006),
“It’s not a “depression gene” in any general sense, “after the confusion cleared, she finds that having “good support” isn’t just a question of good luck. Researchers have found that children who are resilient, are skillful at creating beneficial relationships with adults, and those relationships in turn, contribute to the children’s resilience.”
Rewiring the Brain
Once again, on Darwin’s famous research, his views were opposed, although the empirical evidence shows many controversial conflicts affect the way people perceive reality. However, that is the next stepping-stone into research. The controversy limiting the reality and capabilities of the brain, by genetic research and rewiring the brain without the need of medications, or long-term psychiatry, gaps the bridge of accurate knowledge for all mankind.
The brain can be rewired and altered and yet the brain still has limits. These limits however have no solid definition and basis. Certain cognitive researchers are defining the definition of ‘limits’ within the brain. Dennis S. Charney, MD talks about ‘Neuroplasticity and Your Resilient Brain’ on the YouTube channel titled ‘Big Think.’ He explains how Prisoners Of War (POW) who were in confinement developed new capabilities within the brain. Plasticity and adaptability are variables however, in addition their confinement, severed as exercise training of their brain. The solders developed new unusual cognitive capacities they never had before, explained Charney (Charney, 2012).
The brain can learn. The works of Dennis S. Charney continue to broaden new aspects of psychology. In his research found on ‘Think Big’ a YouTube channel, Charney continues with the properties of plasticity. In his video ‘Resilience Lessons from Our Veterans’ Charney mentions individuals can train themselves to be resilient. There are individuals who are able to train themselves to become resilient and he also talks within his book titled ‘Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges’, how there are other strategies for all individuals to fulfill their training because no person is the same. In the book he provides 10 keys that may help individuals become more resilient which include optimism and social support.
Through the lifespan perspective, the development of children, adolescents and adults can be influenced or trained in order for all individuals to live to their full potentials. Although controversy between neuroscience and resiliency has affected the perception of researchers, the empirical knowledge has opened a new framework and perhaps a new science that includes: disciplines and empirical data. Nature has created mankind and nurture has limited the brain’s full potential. After all, it is the epigenetics that continually rewire the mind and genetics that has wired mankind.
- Bazelon, E. (2006, April 4). A Question of Resilience. The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/30/magazine/30abuse.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
- Berger, K. S. (2014). Invitation to the Life Span with Updates on DSM-5 / Edition 2. In K. S. Berger. NY, New York: Worth Publishers.
- Brendtro, L. (Interviewer) & Werner, E. (Interviewee). (2012). Risk, Resilience, and Recovery [Interview transcript]. Retrieved from the Reclaiming Journal’s Web site: https://reclaimingjournal.com/sites/default/files/journal-article-pdfs/21_1_Werner_by_Brendtro_2.pdf
- Charney, D. (2012, October 17). Dennis Charney: Neuroplasticity and Your Resilient Brain. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04Lick3RIwU
- Cliford, E. (1999). Neural Plasticity: Merzenich, Taub, and Greenough. HarvardBrain, 6, 16-20. https://www.hcs.harvard.edu/~hsmbb/BRAIN/vol6/p16-20-Neuronalplasticity.pdf
- Hunter, C. (2012). Is resilience still a useful concept when working with children and young people? Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2, 11. https://www3.aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/resilience-still-useful-concept-when-working-child
- Nelson, L. (2006). A Learning Machine: Plasticity and Change throughout Life. Observer, 19, 19(8), 8. https://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/publications/observer/2006/august-06/a-learning-machine-plasticity-and-change-throughout-life.htm
- Flor, D. (2012). Neurociência para educador: Coletânea de susídios para “alfabetizaçáo neurocientífica.” Centro, São Paulo-SP: Editora Baraúna SE Ltda