Revolution and Neuroplasticity

Long ago, an image came to my mind which I found very intriguing. It is well known now that the brain’s physical makeup is changed in the act of learning or making new associations. The neural networks actually re-wire themselves to form new synaptic connections.

neuroThese old links, or neural pathways, can be attributed to creature patterns and habitual behaviour. An adage in neuroscience is “neurons that fire together, wire together.” It’s also an explanation for the reason why stopping an old behaviour, like emotional eating, is particularly difficult. Theres a deep rut down which energy wants to travel.

“There was a young man who said ‘Damn,
For it certainly seems that I am,
A creature that moves in determinate grooves.
I’m not even a bus, I’m a tram.'”

In developing and changing oneself, training and repetition are required to persevere and form new neural pathways. It takes six weeks to fully reconstitute old links, or, rather, form a new habit, and still only three to make some serious progress. By repeating behaviours or thoughts over and over again they become a new standard.

I see this same image applying at a collective level. Take for a moment the idea that, at another level of magnitude, each person is a cell in a higher organism, connected by the developing etheric nervous system that is the internet. At a municipal and even global level, there are common beliefs, behaviours and thoughts that people exhibit. With repetition of new ideas/beliefs, as I touched on in my last post, the old associations and habits of the collective mind are reconstituted to form new ones, represented by a change in belief or behaviour – recycling, diet, same sex marriage, racial/gender equality, scientific discoveries, social norms, etc.

Picture each new thought or voice shouted into the organism as a potential neural pathway. For example, people started advocating for labelling on products containing genetically modified ingredients, began a movement and achieved some results. It’s what petitions are based on – generating enough energy behind an idea or initiative to make a change.

The more of us that speak and act on desired change, both intellectually and societally, the greater number of times these new neural pathways fire in the collective brain, and the greater chance for change to manifest.

Continuing on the theme of fighting cultural “ruts”, being bold, doing your thing and connecting with others who have like views. That is all!

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