On brains and paying forward, but mostly about brains

Do you know how a thought brings on another thought? ↓

And then that thought brings on another? ↓

And another?↓

Yesterday I heard Marc Lewis say that people who view drug addiction as a disease base their opinion largely on the fact that drug addiction changes the brain - and it does, there isn't a question about that...

...but so does being a London taxi driver. Their brains' memory centers are, on average, around 20% larger than the rest of the population, so when looked under an MRI, their brains are actually different to mine and yours. (Providing that you're not a London taxi driver, are you?)

And it brought me to the plasticity of the human brain; how regardless of people's age and health and experiences, their brains are constantly changing. Tomorrow's brain is different to today's and today's brain is different to yesterday's.

It never stops. Never.

Last week The Kid discovered the beauty in colouring in with various-coloured pencils and he quickly progressed into doing such intricate, patience-requiring works that me and The Man were left somewhat... open-mouthed looking at what he'd produced.

Like this.

Many times he'd witnessed me and The Man pick up various-coloured pencils, but last week his little brain went, hmm, I'd like to try that!, and now he's off.

And although The Kid has insisted on colouring in more and more pages, to a point where it did cross my mind that it may not be a regular thing for a 4-year-old to do - it takes a whole heap of time and concentration to do something is small swatches like that - after a moment of worry I simply told myself that...

He doesn't need to be ordinary. He can be extraordinary. (If he wants to.) (And I'm cool with that.)

So, yeah: his little brain is constantly "sponging" in knowledge and experiences, changing as a result of those experiences and it is my job to continuously support and nurture that.

As we head into hospital later this week for a fourth set of casts for The Kid and a friend of mine watches The Girlie (for what has now become a weekly occurrence of several hours at a time), I try to remind myself to not feel guilty about it. At the moment I am like a sapping termite of generosity, so frequently on the receiving end of help and so limited in what I am able to offer others, but... it won't always be like that, I tell myself. Look at it as paying forward.

And besides: I'm investing in my kids. If a friend was needing help to support their kids and I was in a position to help like that, I'd do it.

(Which doesn't take away from the fact that I am so grateful, from the top of my head right down to my toenails (which need clipping, but yeah), that I could put up a statue for that friend and it still wouldn't be a gesture big enough.)

Later this week we'll be able to see if The Kid's muscles and tendons have started changing in response to casting, and next week we'll be able to see if there's anything interesting to see on his brain's MRI, and in three weeks' time when casting ends we'll be able to start physiotherapy to "re-train" his brain in regards to using his muscles and tendons; and just like London's taxi drivers, his brain will change in response to all that.

Talking of paying forward: 9 years ago I was walking on a coastal road near Anchorage, Alaska, and a lady stopped to offer us a ride in her car. We declined at first, but she insisted, and it ended up being a beautiful day where she not only offered us a ride to the airport, but took us to her home where we had a shower and dinner with her family, and before that a 2-hour hike around the hills surrounding her home.

A hillside house with a beautiful view across the Cook Inlet in Anchorage, Alaska, and its beautiful family

Flattop Mountain is arguably Anchorage's most-hiked trail

It was the first time I'd sat into someone else's car like that and accepted their generosity, but the lady simply said, "Pay it forward," and I've tried sticking to that.

1 comment:

  1. http://www.amazon.com/Brain-That-Changes-Itself-frontiers-ebook/dp/B005Z6YHEY/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

    Suvel eestis käies sõbranna soovitas ja kui sa veel lugenud pole, siis soovitan soojalt!