Build The Brain You Want: Lara Boyd Ted Talk Class Notes

Lara Boyd is a brain researcher from British Columbia, and she gave this TED talk on the neuroplasticity of the brain and how, in the end, our brain is always changing, and we can build the brain we want. If you have the time, I recommend you watch the video. It will help you understand that your brain is amazing, and you are not limited in life, even as you age. You can choose to go out and create the brain that you want. If you don’t have time to listen, I’ve included my notes below the video.

20 Points I Took From The Lara Boyd Ted Talk:

  1. What they thought they knew about the brain turns out to be untrue or not fully complete, which tells me there is a lot to be learned about the brain yet! Moreover, maybe we can use it in ways that we simply don’t know about yet. In other words, let’s not set limitations on what our brains are capable of doing!
  2. Your brain is highly active, even when you are doing nothing. Your brain is never silent.
  3. Every time you learn a new fact or skill, you change your brain. This is called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity can work in both positive and negative ways. It can help you learn a new skill, but it can also cause you to forget something or cause an addiction.
  4. As you age, your brain doesn’t just decline. Every one of our behaviors can change our brain, and this happens regardless of age.  In fact, after brain damage, it’s important to work on changing your brain for recovery. This makes sense to me as Jim Kwik talks about overcoming brain damage in Superbrain.
  5. The brain works by transferring chemical signals between brain cells which cause actions and reactions in us. If you are trying to learn something, the brain increases the chemical signals or the way they transfer. This change happens rapidly and is where short-term memory comes from. For instance, if you spend the day juggling, you may become better and better at it as the chemical signals strengthen, but the next day, you may lose a lot of the gains you made. In order to make long-term gains, you need to change the structure of your brain, not just the chemical reactions.
  6. Changing the structure of the brain changes the connections between neurons. It takes time to do this and creates long-term memory.
  7. The primary driver of change in your brain is your behavior. Practice. You have to do the work.
  8. The increased struggle during practice leads to more learning and greater structural change in the brain. In other words, we need to embrace the struggle! It’s leading us to greater structural changes in the brain.
  9. We used to believe that it took 10 thousand hours to learn a new skill. But, for some people, it will take more hours and for some, it will take less. It’s very unique. Neuroplasticity changes from person to person.
  10. There are still lots of questions about how the brain works, such as why we forget things or why we fail at things we think we know.
  11. It’s difficult to help the brain recover from a stroke. It’s the leading cause of adult disabilities in the world and the quality of life of people with stroke has declined. It’s a problem that needs to be solved.
  12. Your behavior is the best driver of change in your brain. There’s no shortcut. Behaviors that you employ in your everyday life are important because they are constantly changing your brain, moreover, a long-term change in the brain requires continuous practice and work. Your brain is shaped by what you do AND by what you don’t do.
  13. There is no one way to learn. The shaping of our brains is unique, and one way won’t work for all of us. This is why some children thrive in traditional educational settings and others need a different model for learning.
  14. When it comes to medicine, they have discovered that optimal outcomes result from unique interventions. They can match specific therapies with individual patients. This makes so much sense why some people respond to standard treatments and others don’t.
  15. Know yourself. Study what you learn best and in a way that helps you learn the best. Don’t try to learn in a specific way because you are told you should do it that way.
  16. Do more behaviors that help your brain become healthier. Break the ones that don’t. For instance, ditch the complaining and do the work when required.
  17. Practice, practice, practice.
  18. Everything you experience changes your brain for the better or worse, so, remembering that, go out and build the brain you want.
  19. Your brain is amazing and is constantly being shaped by the world around you.
  20. You can change your brain. Do the things that help you build the brain you want.
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