If you know anything about neuroscience it is likely you have heard about neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to build new neural networks as you gain new knowledge and build new skills. The more you get the same set of neurons firing together, the stronger the networks between them. This is why focusing on your strengths makes sense; as you do, you get better and better at them.
What is less well known is that the brain also routinely undergoes what is known as synaptic pruning. Very much like pruning in a garden, synaptic pruning is the process of clearing out the old growth that is no longer serving you. Certain cells in the brain (microglial cells) undertake this brain cleaning. In this Fast Company video, Associate Editor Rich Bellis addresses three practices that have been shown to contribute to synaptic pruning.
- “Get some sleep:” When you are sleeping, your microglial cells are working. Getting sleep allows them to clear out underused neural pathways.
- “Be mindful:” The things you focus on are the things that will develop strengthened neural networks; the things that you don’t will be pruned.
- “Spend time pondering important things before bed:” Let both your glial cells (those are the ones that build the networks) and your microglial cells know what’s important before putting them to work while you sleep.
While synaptic pruning happens naturally, intentionally focusing on these three practices can contribute to your brain cleaning.
Brian Gorman is the Managing Editor of Change Management Review™. In this capacity he regularly curates articles of importance to our readership; contributes original writing; hosts podcasts; and works with guest authors.
For more than five decades Brian has been engaged in—and a student of—change at the personal, organizational, and societal levels. During this time, he has worked with both individuals and organizations (ranging from solo practitioners to Fortune 100 businesses), guiding them through a wide array of challenges. Decades of experience have given him a deep appreciation of the universal patterns that underlie successfully navigating even the most difficult changes.
In addition to his work as our Managing Editor, Brian is a transformation coach, supporting both individual and organizational change. Brian is committed to passing his “lessons learned” on to others, so that their change journeys can advance more smoothly. He is a frequent workshop facilitator and public speaker. Brian is the author of “The Hero and the Sherpa,” a chapter in the online Handbook of Personal and Organizational Transformation (Springer Publishing; Judi Neal, Editor). He also has an extensive library of blog posts, articles, and videos on the change journey, including “The Ten Most Important Lessons I Have Learned Over 50 Years of Engaging Change.”
Mr. Gorman’s formal education includes a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Syracuse University, an MA in Higher Education Administration from the University of Texas, San Antonio and an MA in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma.
Brian is an International Coach Federation (ICF) certified coach, and is an active member in the New York City chapter. Brian is also a member of the Forbes Coaches Council and the Gay Coaches Alliance.
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