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The Human Brain’s Ability To Adapt Itself

The Human Brain’s Ability To Adapt Itself
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This is Part 1 of the 7-part series on Your Ever-Adapting Brain!

If you would like to listen to the full video from above ^ on The Notable Events in the while our Brains’ learns Adapt itself, here you are:

To understand how our human brain's adapt themselves and continually evolve, it’s good to take the long view, back in time to the formation of the Earth more than 4.5 billion years ago. About that time and ever since, natural forces have been conjuring up ways to make just about everything more and more complex. From the absolute beginning, infinitesimally small particles, protons, have been coalescing into larger ones, atoms, and larger ones still, molecules. Molecules combined into increasingly complex molecules, groups of complex molecules, cells, and groups of cells, organisms. These natural forces have done such a beautiful job that today, 100,000,000,000 neurons and 1,000,000,000,000 glial cells fit snugly into just one brain, your brain. The 100 billion neurons in your brain make about 100 trillion connections with each other at junctions called synapses, each synapse a small part of thinking important thoughts.

The brain is a far more open system than we ever imagined, and nature has gone very far to help us perceive and take in the world around us. It has given us a brain that survives in a changing world by changing itself.


Norman Doidge, 2007

By 1802 Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, sometimes credited as the “first biologist,” noticed this trend and named the extraordinary natural drive toward ever-increasing order a “complexifying force.” Since then we’ve been discovering just how complexifying this force can be. Photographs of life thriving in every extreme, in the frigid bone-crushing pressures six miles deep in the Marianas Trench of the Pacific, in boiling sulfurous pools at Yellowstone, and five miles high on blizzard-whipped Himalayan peaks show that life can thrive even in the most extreme environments. Judging from the diversity of life that’s overcome multiple mass extinctions and recreated itself since the beginnings of the Earth, Lamarck’s idea of a “complexifying force” seems to have hit the mark.  

In 1832, Charles Darwin found 13 species of finches among an isolated island group called the Galapagos and developed a Theory of Natural Selection, finally published in 1859. Lamarck was French, Darwin was English, and the prevailing bias leaned more towards Darwin’s natural selection than Lamarck’s complexifying force as cause for diversity and complexity. Much later an Italian jumped in with the word “syntropy”  to describe the process. As defined in 1941 by the Italian mathematician, Luigi Frantappie, syntropy is “the tendency towards energy concentration, order, organization and life.”  It’s a tight definition but it still doesn’t explain the innate forces that cause things to “complexify.” We do know that the process of “natural selection” partially explains evolution. But that it doesn’t explain how protons, atoms, molecules, and proteins tend to coalesce to make matter more and more complex. The term “syntropy” describes this force, not the selection process, that defies chaos and pushes life toward greater variation and adaptability.  

Categories:   Brain Plasticity, Epigenetic, Epigenetics, Neurogenisis, Neuroplasticity

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Burt Glenn

Burt Glenn

Burton Glenn is a former Biology and Chemistry Professor and world traveler. He studies and writes about the effects of aging on the body and mind, as well as his personal experiences transitioning into retirement.