The learning brain:
The human brain was not created for reading newspapers, solving crossword puzzles, or working in front of a computer. Our brain was originally created to give our body the necessary commands to move, to run and escape from a predatory animal, to climb a tree, to wander and look for sources of food, and to perform all of the movements and actions necessary to maintain existence. The vast majority of the brain's commands control displacement and movement, starting with lifting a foot or waving a hand and ending with the contraction of heart muscles and movement of the intestines.
Our conference is focused on movement and thinking processes involved in building, growing, and optimizing neural connections. In short - the "learning brain".
Learning starts at the very beginning of life l itself. Early on, the fetus and later the infant senses a stimulus and its brain generates a command to the hand to touch, feel, grope, and manipulate an object. This is the beginning of the learning processes of the brain, and this process that is studied in laboratories and facilitated in clinics around the world has discovered that when the body moves, BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor) is produced, which supports neuroplasticity and facilitates the making of connections in the brain. This process, in turn, supports information transfer capabilities and more synapse connections. This is actually what allows our brain to "grow" or "expand" our capacity to think, create, and even recover from brain injury and trauma. The plasticity of the brain, its flexibility and its ability to create new and more efficient connections is what allows our brains to reach advanced stages and higher levels of analysis, thinking and understanding. This is the basis for increasing the brain's abilities, and this is what allows the brain to learn, decipher, understand and remember more effectively.
But it turns out that our brain increases production of BDNF when we are in motion. If we sit motionless and our brain is not busy with walking or running or activity, this substance will not be produced at reduced levels (why? - a Nobel Prize is waiting for whoever discovers the nature of the process...). It turns out that our brain, which was created to manage movement, needs movement to facilitate cognitive abilities.
It is with a fundamental understanding of the relation between brain, body and cognition in the context of movement where we find a key to understanding the brain's capacity to learn or rehabilitate. We will examine processes that started somewhere at the dawn of evolution of leading up to our impending conference in London. We will continue there. See you soon.