Stories, comedy, comics, essays, and stuff

YMIAFT Chapter 2 Part 6

One word, Plastics

“Neurons that fire together wire together.”

~ Donald Hebb

Image: ymiaft_synapses

You probably have some people you like to talk to all the time that you want to have easier access to, and other people you're less enthused about that you don't care to contact so often. In my phone, it automatically keeps a log of the people I've spoken to recently, and I can use that list to call them again more easily the next time. It's one way that the people I talk to more frequently are easier to connect with. Your neurons are doing the same kind of thing. After all, if you had to think about something once, you might have to think about it again. If you think about it twice, then you're even more likely to have to deal with it in the future. If your brain can arrange it so that the next time you think about something the activity will flow through faster and easier, then you'll be able to respond quicker, and with more nuance.

The way neurons make closer connections to their best friends is by making more synapses at a point of connection that is getting a lot of activity. If a synapse gets lit up with activity over and over, the neurons involved will respond by adding more synaptic connections to that same spot. More connections is like having higher bandwidth for your internet connection, it allows more data to flow through. The same principle also holds true in the opposite direction. If a connection doesn't get used enough, the neurons involved will start retracting connections, and can eventually abandon it entirely. Use it or lose it. Losing connections is a good thing, because those loose axon terminals become available for use in other synapses, allowing you to learn new things in place of ideas that don't matter.

This constant moving around, making and breaking connections, is referred to as neuroplasticity, the capacity for your mind to change. It's because of neuroplasticity that your brain has the ability to learn and improve and get better at things. And laugh at them.

Books I've written

My Instagram

These days I'm using Instagram to post my sketches. Also sometimes if something random and amusing happens.

My Twitter

I put up a tweet whenever I update my blog, and I also cross post my drawings from Instagram.