Neuroplasticity: Our Incredible Ability to Adapt and Change
Neuroplasticity is a term used to describe the brain’s ability to change and strengthen its connections throughout life. This remarkable process is most evident in the successful rehabilitation of individuals with mobility issues resulting from traumatic brain injuries. The effects of neuroplasticity in mental health treatment are evident by observations of reduced psychiatric symptoms and improvements in functioning. Recent neuroimaging studies have shown evidence of structural and functional changes in the brain that correlate with improved outcomes using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Psychotherapy, which has been traditionally viewed as a non-biological intervention, has been shown to improve parts of the brain that are either underactive or overactive. For example, neuroimaging studies have shown that the amygdala, a brain region that is often overactive in anxiety disorders, will reduce in activity in response to CBT. The discovery of neuroplasticity is reassuring that hope exists for anybody who is affected by a mental health condition.
by Jack Shier, MD
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