There are two laws that govern the internal structure and cognitive functioning of the brain; neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. When it comes to cognitive functioning they can be considered the dynamic duo.
Neurogenesis produces the new, experience-dependent brain cells essential for absorbing new information, making new memories and learning.
Neuroplasticity, or brain plasticity, arranges those cells internally in terms of importance, priority and need. You establish those elements based on experience, learning, reward and repetition.
Up until the late 90’s it was believed that most people stopped generating new, experience-dependent brain cells by the age of thirty. That meant that there was no role for brain plasticity beyond that age either. The brain was considered to be fixed or declining past that age.
In the late 90’s it was proven that we can continue to generate new, experience-dependent brain cells throughout life. That meant that brain plasticity (neuroplasticity) applied as well. The adult human could absorb new information, make new memories and learn throughout life.
Understanding how these two laws functioned made it clear that the human brain IS NOT a fixed genetic inheritance that we had to make the best of. The internal structure and capability of the human brain is continuously changing throughout life. That change comes about in response to what we do or don’t do.
Understanding how these two laws functioned together also made it clear that the human brain IS NOT a passive receiver and distributor of information as once believed. It is an active user of the information it receives.
The brain uses that information it receives, and has stored, to build the mind and control the internal and external responses of the body. The interaction of neurogenesis and neuroplasticity make the human brain the “Control Center” of the Brain->Mind->Body System.
There are caveats attached to this however. Perhaps they explain the creation of the myth that aging causes cognitive decline.
First, the generation of new, experience-dependent brain cells requires a hormone referred to as BDNGF. The generation of that hormone is responsive to physical activity. To generate experience-dependent brain cells, therefore, requires that you remain physically active.
.Second, new, experience-dependent brain cells must be used within a relatively short period of time or they will no longer be available. Newly generated cells will be needed.
Third, the importance that you attach to the use of new, experience-dependent brain cells determines how they are positioned within the internal structure o your brain. Thought, Experience, Repetition, Learning and Reward determine importance.
Fourth, the use or lack of use of new, experience-dependent brain cells will determine whether the internal structure and functioning capability of your brain increases or decreases.