Learning Lab

Your real potential

Average neurons in your brain form around 1000 synaptic connections. Many receive up to 10,000 inputs while some cells in the cerebellum receive up to 100,000. To put it mildly, your neurons are well connected!

If Coaching really does enable you to increase your self-directed neuroplasticity then it is worth looking at how you can alter the strength of your synapses. From a purely physical perspective altering the strength of a gap seems strange. When we look at what is actually happening, which is the opportunity to make the postsynaptic cell more likely to initiate an action potential and therefore keep any transmission of information going, then it makes sense.

As far as we know this is the fundamental process involved in memory. It is how we wire together our neurons to make neuronal webs, those specialised circuits that come in very handy.

Here’s where it gets a little way out there…neurons either fire or they do not. They are subjected to an ‘all or none’ property which means there is either enough electrical impulse to create a response or not. Back in 1949 Donald Hebb suggested that learning and memory are based on strengthening synapses when pre and postsynaptic neurons are simultaneously active.

As with many brilliant ideas, science left this one to fester for a few years until neuroscientists started collecting data that supported what the psychologist Hebb proposed. Apparently electrically stimulating cortical cells to fire simultaneously did strengthen their synaptic connections.

“Cells that fire together, wire together” is the popular rhyme that hides a wealth of neuronal activity. (It is also far easier to comprehend and remember!) Basically this is the start of your real potential, you can strengthen the efficiency of a neuronal circuit – you can create your own neuroplasticity.

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