The Neural Depths of Our Ever-Changing Cognition
There are many theories that scientists, in-due circumstances, try to extrapolate as to why the brain goes through the ever-changing neuronal alterations that it goes through because of focused attention. One of these theories is one that many neuroscientists aptly call neuroplasticity: this theory, as some philosophers would have us to believe, goes against the current dogma of the materialistic viewpoints that many neuroscientists hold about the mind-body interaction. The way we retrieve information has a big effect on how our brain changes—whether it is through the internet or through other technological devices—the information age has created a multifaceted effect on how our brain functions. This shift in informational retrieval has transformed our society, and even our cognition; therefore, to narrow this paradigm even further, our society is looking at some major changes to come about because of how easily we can gather information.
Knowledge and information is one way our society has advanced as much as it has. We are a more driven and competitive society than we were decades ago because of how technology and neuroscience have both advanced to keep up with our ever-growing appetite to explore the untapped potential of our increasingly plastic cognition. The more we use our brains’ cognitive reserve, the more we strengthen the connections between the white matter components of our brain and the various parts of the frontal cortex; and through this, the evolution of our society has grown profusely throughout the years. However, is this because of our evolutionary genome that we have advanced as much as we have, or is this because of something more conscious and volitional? I perceive that our society’s steady growth has been, due to the fact, that as human beings we have had an intrinsic need to create a more fulfilling world for others and ourselves: we have achieved this by focusing our attention more wisely and letting go of our basis-primordial needs. According to Dr. Jeffrey M. Schwartz—who is a well know neuroscientist and professor of psychiatry at UCLA’s Resnick Institute for Neuropsychiatry— as well as Henry P. Stapp and Mario Beauregard, the power of self-directed neuroplasticity can induce lasting-biological changes to the structure of the brain:
When people practice self-directed activities for the purposes of systematically altering patterns of cerebral activation they are attending to their mental and emotional experiences, not merely their limbic or hypothalamic brain mechanisms… It is, in fact, the basic thesis of self-directed neuroplasticity research that the way in which a person directs their attention (e.g. mindfully or unmindfully) will affect both the experiential state of the person and the state of his/her brain (5).
Therefore, Schwartz, Stapp and Beauregard posit that the way we choose to direct our attention can have significant effects on how our brain...