Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Reply to comment

mcrepeau's picture

Plasticity and the brain

I'm not sure if I can state that all people who share similar thoughts on important soical subjects, such as religion and politics, have the same arrangement of neurons per say, but I can suggest that if they do have similar neuronal arrangments that it is due, not so much, to the phenomenon that they happened to be born with similar neuronal arrangments (although some genetic predisposition towards certain things could play its part as well), but that similarities in believes and behaviors that revolve, especially around an institution which usually has its own solidified dogma, can be learned and that we can actively (although perhaps unconsciously) re-arrange those input/out box arrangments, and more importantly the connections between those input/output box and how they interact with each other, the potential dialogues they share, etc. After all the brain is an enormously plastic enity and undergoes some pretty profound physical and intrinsic changes as we develop throughout ourlives. Although, the brain is always plastic (we are always capable of learning new things and thus changing the arrangment and connections of neurons) there are several particular times in our development where our brains are particularly plastic. For example, an infant's brain is not the same as an adults brain. An infant's brain generally tends to be more "plastic" and can absorb enormous amounts of inputs and produce a wide range of outputs, feeling out and testing the world around it, finding what can be predictable and patterned (language for instance, a particulalry interesting development interms of plasticity--the window for our word/language lexicon, for example, that we can incorporate and internalize intrinsically and fluently is pretty small, some have suggested only up to the age of three, after which (while we can add words in our own language) attempts of learning other languages outside of out established lexicon is a system of substitution) and what can seemingly not be predictable or patterned. Also, the teenaged brain is not the same as an adult's or an infant's brain, and enters into its own cycle of growth and significant plasticity. It is during these times of particulalr plasticity that we really establish clear patterns about who we are and how we behave through trial and error and through the absorption of enironmental and social cues that seem to influence the arrangement of our neuronal connections, behavior and thought. Maybe it is because brains are plastic, that they are always rearranging and make new combinations, and potentially new qualities etc. that we are able to come to similar conclusions, etc. from different places , i.e. it may not be that people who share similar beliefs, etc. all have neruon 3 in cortical layer 4 adjacent to neuron 5 in layer 3, but that other arrangements else where could have the same effect. Brains change and we learn to act the same.


To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
3 + 10 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.