Neuroplasticity refers to your brain’s ability to grow and change over time. This term encompasses structural and functional changes in the brain that allow you to learn new skills and forge new connections.
While researchers used to think that the brain was static once you entered adulthood, we now know that the brain can form new synapses and reorganize itself, even later in life.
Neuroplasticity is also sometimes referred to as neural plasticity or brain plasticity.
How Does Neuroplasticity Work?
Neuroplasticity of the brain is triggered when we learn something new or experience something different. When you learn a new skill or encounter a new experience, the neurons in your brain form new connections with each other. If you repeatedly study or practice a new skill, it could strengthen the pathways.
Neuroplasticity and BDNF
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a protein in the brain. Researchers believe that BDNF encourages neuroplasticity.
When you have high levels of BDNF, that typically correlates with better mental health and cognitive function. Lower levels of BDNF are associated with neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s.
You can increase your brain’s BDNF and, therefore, your neuroplasticity by exercising, getting plenty of sleep, and meditating.
Neuroplasticity and Psychedelics
Research suggests that BDNF is modified after a single psychedelic treatment. Scientists believe that psychedelics stimulate synapse formation and promote dendritic spine growth in the brain. These are two mechanisms of neuroplasticity.