The term “neuroplasticity” has become somewhat of a buzzword lately – but how familiar with the details are you?
According to Merriam-Webster, neuroplasticity is the “capacity of neurons and neural networks in the brain to change their connections and behavior in response to new information, sensory stimulation, development, damage, or dysfunction” . Or in layman’s terms, it is your brain’s ability to change for better or for worse!
Described further, “Neuroplasticity occurs when neurons in the brain sprout and form synapses. As the brain processes sensory information, frequently used synapses are strengthened while unused synapses weaken. Eventually, unused synapses are eliminated completely in a process known as synaptic pruning, which leaves behind efficient networks of neural connections” . So quite simply, neuroplasticity occurs as individuals study and learn new ideas and habits. By doing so, these individuals are strengthening certain synapses while weakening others. This ultimately leads to the modification of the “wiring” in their brains.
Before neuroplasticity was accepted by the scientific community, the brain was viewed as a static organ that could not be changed. Under this older premise, it was thought that brain would continue to develop through the early stages of childhood and then hit a stopping point. Thus, it was thought that adults could not form new neurons or modify their neural networks. Essentially, your brain could only get worse! What a rather gloomy concept, right?
With this older viewpoint becoming invalid, there has been a tremendous amount of growth in the number of studies and amount of research being performed on neuroplasticity. More specifically, scientists and researchers are working to better understand how mental illnesses, learning disabilities, and cognitive performance can be improved through therapy and training programs.
Now, how is this related to THINQ Golf and your mental game? Well, the big key is that your mental make-up as a golfer can be customized by you. Poor thought patterns involving anxiety, the inability to stay in the present, and wild emotions can be eliminated as long as you are willing to put the time and effort into re-training them. Hebb’s Law says, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” So, you must make sure that you are training and reinforcing the right skills on and off the golf course. Otherwise, you are at the risk of further engraining poor habits.
The research behind the THINQ Games has shown that players who practice the skills of attention, awareness, intention, and synchronicity are able to attain more synchronous brain maps, and in turn, hit better shots. Players who have altered their brain maps have essentially changed the way in which their brains fire during a performance situation – that is, they have modified their brain activity levels through a conscious effort to train new cognitive skills and patterns.
With that being said, those of you who train regularly are literally in the process of re-wiring your mental game, so next time your fellow playing partners ask, “How are your scores improving?” – smile wryly and simply say, “Through neuroplasticity!”
 “Neuroplasticity.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 12 July 2014.
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