Brain Less Traveled

Brain Less Traveled

Brain’s Less Traveled  

So, I am definitely a right-sided dominant person. My right hand and foot are even a little larger from using for so long, I guess. Last year, I was speaking with local occupational therapists, who were reporting success with increasing the capabilities of post stroke patients, now needing to use their “other side”. One of the good side effects, seems to be that it awakens and strengthens the neural connections in the brain, and may even grow new ones.   The human brain is an organ that improves through mental stimulation. The brain continuously adapts, grows and rewires itself through the growth of new neurons.

It is similar to how physical exercise improves a body’s functioning and grows muscles.  Brain mapping on CT and MRI shows that creativity is housed in the dominant hemisphere of our brains. Noble prize -winner Roger Sperry has researched the vastly untapped potential of the brain using our non-dominate side. While at Caltech, Lucia Capacchione discovered that our non-dominate brain is an untapped channel. She has done research showing that musicians, that use both hands have a 9% increase in their corpus callosum, which is the part of the brain that connects the two hemispheres. Dr Alison Hale, is a physicist, that works primarily with children with cognitive disorder like ADHD and autism says better exchange between hemispheres can benefit all mental processing.

So, with all the benefits of accessing the brain’s less traveled path, why not give it a try?  Hale advises trying to engage in several kinds of activity that use your non-dominant hand. Try brushing your teeth, opening doors, eating (chopsticks are extra credit). I was not sure that opening doorknobs with my “other” hand would open a newfound creativity objectivity. However, I have learned to brush my teeth, button my cloths and put on make-up (excluding mascara). It felt awkward and you will likely to have much less control over what your non-dominant hand can do, but when you use your opposite hand you are rewiring and growing your brain! I am all for taking a chance to permanently grow my brain. I made a vow to start using my left hand for as many tasks that were previously done with my right. Anytime to grown my brain is too good an option to pass up.

I find wearing pockets helps, so if I trying something new, I keep my good hand in a pocket. You can lean on the sink while you learn to brush your teeth with your other hand. You’ll probably notice it’s much harder to be precise with your movements. When I first started to brush my teeth with my left hand, it was hard to actually move my hand instead of my head. Remember you are in your bathroom, nobody is looking.

I have also found that if you put Parkinson’s and boxing in your search engine there is a tremendous amount of information about the success of using boxing moves to help rewire the damaged part of the brain. While every individual has a unique game plan for living with Parkinson’s disease, exercise is often an important part of the management.  Not only is it good for general health, but certain forms of activity can target specific Parkinson’s symptoms.  Boxing moves of right/left benefits both agility and hand-eye coordination. It also can build vocal muscle strength, potentially help speech (some say grunting or yelling while punching aids with vocal projection). That indicates that it may offer an outlet for frustration toward symptoms. Like many types of exercise, boxing can ease a range of symptoms, like walking, balance, performance of daily activities and so quality of life!

The brain is an organ that improves through mental stimulation and exercise. The brain continuously adapts, grows and rewires itself through the growth of new neurons. If you don’t use the brains filing cabinets you may find they just empty out. So, what do you have to lose, start inside your house? Look silly but start today and learn to travel down your brains less traveled path.

 

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