The more you practice something the better you become at it. From a brain point of view the more you run a neuro-circuit in your brain, the stronger that circuit becomes.
Researches have been aware of this for years. However, they have found out another thing as well: if you want to learn something you must be able to unlearn it or in other words break down the old neural connections.
This is called “synaptic pruning”.
This is how it works:
’’Imagine your brain is a garden, except instead of growing fruits, vegetables and flowers, you grow synaptic connections between neurons. These are the connections that neurotransmitters like seratonin, dopamine and others travel across.
“Glial cells” are the gardeners of your brain—they act to speed up signals between certain neurons. But other glial cells are the waste removers, killing pests, pulling up weeds, raking up dead leaves. Your brain’s pruning gardeners are also known as “microglial cells.” They prune your synaptic connections. We ask ourselves the question :how do they know which ones to prune?
Researchers are starting to solve this mystery, but what they do know is the synaptic connections that get used less get marked by a protein, C1q (as well as others). When the microglial cells spot that mark, they bond to the protein and prune the synopse.
This is how your brain makes the physical space for you to build new and stronger connections so you can learn more.”
This is why sleep matters:
YOUR BRAIN CLEANS ITSELF OUT WHEN YOU SLEEP!
A lot of us have felt like our brains don’t have enough space for anything new: whether it is a new job, new hobby or just trying to learn something new.
When you learn lots of new things, your brain builds connections, but they’re inefficient, ad hoc connections. Your brain needs to prune a lot of those connections away and build more streamlined, efficient pathways. It does that when we sleep.
60 percent of our brain cells shrink while we sleep in order for new space to be created.
Have you ever woken up from a good night’s rest and been able to think clearly and quickly? That’s why. It’s like running fragmentation on your computer.
Naps are extremely beneficial for the cognitive abilities. 10 to 20 minutes of napping can clear away unused connections/ things in your brain and there will be enough space left for new ones to develop.
Thinking with a sleep-deprived brain is like hacking your way through a dense jungle with a machete. It’s overgrown, slow-going, exhausting.
This is how you can control what gets deleted from your brain:
The synaptic connections that aren’t used are the ones that get marked for recycling. The ones that are used are those that get watered and oxygenated. So be careful what are you thinking of.
If you spend too much time let’s just say movie reviews and you don’t read anything at all connected to your job, guess which synapses are going to get marked for recycling?
WHAT YOU FOCUS ON PREVAILS! YOU LITERALLY CRAFT YOUR OWN MIND BY CHOOSING WHAT YOU PAY ATTENTION TOWARDS.
You cannot control what happens to you throughout the day, but you can definitely control how much it affects you. In other words you can choose WHAT affects you and thus create your own neural connections.
Focus more on things that make you feel good and positive. Try to avoid focusing on things that hold you back and make you feel bad about yourself. Moreover , don’t imagine scenarios that will most likely never going to happen. Clear your mind and use your mental energy toward things that are beneficial for you.
It really is a game of strategy. You need to smartly use your mind, to be smart. Resisting the temptation of things that don’t benefit you, that’s what makes you smart.
If you want to delete something from your brain you simply need to stop thinking about it. Even if something reminds you of it just change focus and don’t pay attention. Sooner or later it will get marked for recycling.