In my experience, habitually perceiving the world negatively can become very draining, entirely inaccurate and can make us feel pretty poorly about ourselves. But who is to say that we are actually doing this, and not our pre-existing neural pathways we are so accustomed to unconsciously following? From the material in our lessons, and much else of our brain’s function, we can conclude that we have neurons everywhere. With each neuron eventually comes a neural pathway, and these pathways happen to play a very large role in the way we perceive the world around us, and ourselves individually (Walker, 2014). This post will focus on the brief science behind neurons and pathways, the actuality of pre-existing pathways, and their undeniable ability to reshape themselves.
Scientifically, individual neurons each have a cell body that encompass many dendrites, or “touch receptors.” These touch receptors have an ability to connect, or electrically synapse, with another cell body in the form of an action potential (Goldstein, 2011). With billions of neurons in our brain, and the many complex and detailed ways in which our brain operates and processes information, it is without a doubt that we also have billions of neural pathways. Within our body we have many varying types of neurons; however, the main types are sensory neurons, motor neurons and interneurons. Each type of neuron is extremely important and powerful, and does synapse and create respective pathways. In respect to the power of our brain and mind, interneurons become the focus as they exclusively are within the spinal cord and brain (Neurons, 2013).
Though this post could be much more in-depth, the power of pre-existing neural pathways are substantial. These pathways are created at a very young age; thus, continuously reinforced and strengthened, as the same information is being used and reaffirmed (Tassell, 2014). Cognitively, these pathways serve as the habitual “tape-recording” we play, which may help define us, dictate what obligations lie ahead, or how well we are doing them. Additionally, we can recognize heuristics and their ability to magnify the power of neural pathways, by proving how our brain can pull preconceived information forward like a shortcut (Goldstein, 2011). Since we can clearly see the power of strengthened and existing neural pathways, we can conversely ascertain their disappearance if we do not access such data often. If there is a long-term period where certain neural pathways are not used, they can completely dismantle (Tassell, 2014).
Thus, we are brought to the powerful capabilities of neuroplasticity – the resiliency and creativity our neural pathways have to re-route and re-create potentially more fulfilling, new and applicable pathways that may suit our unique age, interests and culture. Based on environment, some of us may have a disposition to pain, trauma or negative neural pathways. To a certain degree, both hemispheres of our brain have the ability to overcompensate for the other. In simple form, the way this works is by changing thought patterns, training our mind to maybe add a positive to a negative, take a new route home from work or simply gain knowledge (Liou, 2010).
By investigating this topic, it is visible that the way we think is somewhat solidified and unconsciously guiding much of what we do. Luckily, we do have the ability to change the way we perceive, if we choose to. This topic directly verifies how apparent and important neurons are, the role they play in our ability to simply exist, and how we may enjoy our existence.
Goldstein, E. (2011). Congitive Psychology (Third ed., pp. 24-76). N.p.: Linda Schreiber-Ganster.
Liou, S. (2010, June 26). Neuroplasticity. In web.stanford.edu. Retrieved September 9, 2016, from http://web.stanford.edu/group/hopes/cgi-bin/hopes_test/neuroplasticity/
Neurons, . (2013, May 6). Neurons. In www.biology-pages.info. Retrieved September 9, 2016, from http://www.biology-pages.info/N/Neurons.html
Tassell, D. V. (2004). Neural Pathway Development. In www.brains.org. Retrieved September 9, 2016, from http://www.brains.org/path.htm
Walker, A. (2014, July 1). How Your Thought Pathways Affect Your Life. In www.drwalker.com. Retrieved September 9, 2016, from http://www.drawalker.com/blog/how-your-thought-pathways-create-your-life