Do our thoughts mould our brains?
It makes logical sense the way our brains operate will influence what we believe in. Therefore, can we flip it round? And can we say that what we believe in will in turn impact the way that our brains are shaped and work? Is there a two-way street?
Leor - That's a great question because, in essence, sometimes we forget that our beliefs are part of our brains, they reside in our brains, our beliefs are an extension of us because where else would they be? So when we're thinking about this in the context of how information can affect our brains and our brains affect the kind of information we're receptive to, we can definitely see those bidirectional links whereby some individuals are highly attracted to certain kinds of information and their brains will soak it up. And at the same time, the kind of information that we're exposed to, whether it's extreme information in scary settings, or the environments that we're positioned in, that can sculpt our brains too in the way that any other kind of experience can. The same way that stressful experiences or adversity will change our brains, so will the kinds of information that we're embedded with, the kind of information that we inhabit and internalise deeply.
Chris - I think it was Susan Greenfield who said, the brain you go to bed with is not the brain you got up with this morning, structurally.
Leor - That's right. So many processes take place in our brains all the time. Our brains are never silent. They're never the same one day to the next. And so of course the information that we will take in and how we will process it will affect our brains all the time.
Chris - Although, there are limits on how plastic or mouldable our brains are, aren't there. And there's this question of, as you get older, whether you lose some of that?
Leor - We see that young people do have the greatest brain plasticity and that that does get reduced over time. But we can always improve, train. The more that we engage in flexible and creative acts that stretch our brains in all sorts of directions, the more that we can sustain that plasticity and flexibility over time.