Lesson Idea: Neuroplasticity

Travis DixonBiological Psychology, Criminology

Neuroplasticity occurs when the brain changes as a result of experience. This means you could grow neural connections, or you might lose them.

This activity is designed to accompany the Criminology lesson 2.7b: Childhood and Brain Development.

A good way to learn about neuroplasticity is to compare your performance on something you’re a master at, with something with which you’re a novice. Find someone in your class with whom you can share talents – they’ll try to teach you something you’ve never tried before or you’re not very good at, and you can try to teach them something you’re a master at, but that they’re not very good at.

Some examples could be:

  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Playing a video game
  • A sports trick (e.g. dribbling a basketball between your legs)
  • Juggling or another performing arts talent
  • An acrobatic skill
  • Speaking another language
  • Drawing or cartooning
  • Creating some form of art (e.g. clay sculpting, origami or folding paper planes)

This is a chance to really show off a talent that you have. Your teacher and classmates will also be really excited to see what you love to do!

Spend five to ten minutes trying to teach one another. Once your finished, compare how easily and “natural” you found performing the different tasks. One should’ve been pretty easy and fluent, whereas the other probably felt “clunky” and you had to really concentrate in order to get it right, or you just couldn’t complete the task at all.

Your Mission:

The purpose of this activity is to get you thinking about why one task is easier than another based on what’s happening in your brain.

Discuss with your partner the answer to this questions:

  • Neurologically speaking, why is one task easier to perform than the other?

To go even further with your answer, try to explain what different parts of the brain might have weak or strong connections based on your proficiency in the task you’re completing.

These weblinks will help you find information to undertand the different parts of the brain and their functions. The videos also provide more details about neuroplasticity and how neurons communicate with one another.

  • Ask a Biologist about the brain at Arizona State University (link)
  • www.brainwaves.com
  • Details about the brain form Mayfield Clinic (Link)

This video about neuroplasticity from Sentis’ youtube channel might also provide some insight into what’s happening in your brain:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELpfYCZa87g]

This video by CosmicContinuum is also a pretty good visual demonstration about what’s happening in the brain.

This story from the Wall Street Journal gives some insight into how modern technology is enabling us to learn more about differences in neural wiring between individuals that could explain differences in behaviour.