Neuroplasticity and epigenetics play a big role in shaping who you are physically and mentally. Learn the reason behind that in this article.
How Neuroplasticity and Epigenetics Shape Your Personality
Factors Affecting Gene Expression
Many of you were probably taught in biology class that genetic traits are passed down from your parents. You have blue eyes because your parents do or you’re thin because of genetics, and so on.
Research into the emerging field of epigenetics suggests your lifestyle and environment influence your gene expression over time.
What is gene expression? The overall process by which the information encoded in a gene is converted into an observable phenotype.
The new and evolving area of science shows us gene expression can be changed and impacted by external factors and stressors. If you take a dive into the research coming from epigenetic studies as well as neurogenesis, specifically neuroplasticity, you can have a better understanding of how you can live your best life.
You can change the way your brain and cells operate – essentially designing a new you.
An Introduction to Neurogenesis
Neurogenesis is the process in which new neurons are formed in the brain. Originally it was thought that neurogenesis mainly took place in a developing baby before birth.
However, over the past few decades, new evidence has come to light showing adult neurogenesis does take place.
Neurons are basically electrical devices that communicate with each other across synapses.
They are responsible for carrying information throughout the body. They use chemical and electrical signals to manage all essential functions in life.
Neurogenesis is absolutely crucial when an embryo is developing but also continues in certain regions of the brain after birth and throughout life.
If the memory center of the brain can develop new neurons, it may help people to recover from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease.
For decades, scientists have continued to debate whether neurogenesis can take place in the part of the brain responsible for learning, mood regulation, and memory.
The hippocampus is one of the most affected areas in Alzheimer’s disease. In a recent study, scientists found adult hippocampal neurogenesis persisted during the aging process and could be a potential relevant underlying mechanism for memory deficits in Alzheimer's disease. They also learned it may be able to be targeted by novel therapeutic strategies.
What is the hippocampus? Located in the medial temporal lobe of the human brain, it regulates a person’s emotions and is also essential in turning short-term memory to long-term.
What Is Epigenetics?
Epigenetics is an emerging field of science that focuses on how your environment, thoughts, and experiences influence your gene expression. Whereas traditional genetics looks at how genetics are passed down from one generation to another, epigenetics looks at the way the genes being passed down are used.
It’s all about how genes are expressed and used, rather than the DNA sequence itself.
The field of epigenetics suggests your thoughts and perceptions play a major role in controlling your biology. Your biology doesn’t mean you’re destined to do or not do something. Your thoughts can control your biology, putting you in the driver’s seat.
By changing your thoughts and encouraging positive thinking, you can influence and sculpt your own gene expression.
It’s been shown time and time again that just thinking about something can cause your brain to release neurotransmitters. A chemical reaction takes place in your body from just one thought.
This means your thoughts can influence and change your DNA and cells.
Some studies have even found that thoughts alone can improve health, fitness, strength, and vision.
The placebo effect has been shown to have a strong effect as well, due to the power of thought. But the placebo effect might not be a bad thing if it creates a happier and healthier you.
Expectancies and learned associations have demonstrated real physiological and cognitive outcomes like less fatigue and reduced anxiety.
Epigenetics is everywhere: what you eat, how much you sleep, and how you exercise can all cause chemical modifications around the genes that can switch genes on and off over time. In certain diseases like Alzheimer's disease and cancer, various genes can be switched off, straying away from the healthy state.
The important thing to consider is how you can influence your health for the better just by changing your thoughts. Although your mindset is powerful, not all health conditions are caused by your mindset.
Sunwarrior is not suggesting your mindset causes all health conditions. Rather, epigenetics is an emerging and new field of study that suggests your DNA isn’t only influenced by external factors like previously believed.
Your DNA is also influenced by your mindset.
Neurogenesis and Neuroplasticity
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to adapt to new situations and form new connections and pathways to change how its circuits are hard-wired. For over a decade, scientists have investigated how neurogenesis and neuroplasticity can weave together to reshape how we think, remember, and even behave.
One standout study published in the journal eLife showed how new neurons weaved themselves into a “new and improved” neural tapestry. During the study, scientists found a combination of neurogenesis and neuroplasticity made older, less-able neurons die-off and the young, high-performance new neurons took their place by making stronger connections.
The study focused on neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus in the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain responsible for forming new episodic memories. Specifically, the research looked at newly born granule cell neurons in this region of the brain.
One of the most important aspects of neuroplasticity is called Neural Darwinism, which means the neurons that aren’t on top form won’t make it. It’s survival of the fittest for newborn neurons against their older, more fragile counterparts.
This research suggests that through neurogenesis and neuroplasticity, you may be able to carve out new and fresh paths for your thoughts to travel on. This could be particularly useful in helping to overcome past traumatic events that make you feel anxious or stress.
It opens up the possibility of being able to reinvent yourself by removing those hard-wired fears that often lead to avoidance behavior and stop you from living your life to the fullest potential.
You are fully capable of creating a new you—a new person who lives your life on your terms.
Understanding Neuroplasticity and Epigenetics
Neurogenesis and neuroplasticity open up the door to rewire your brain, while epigenetics opens up your understanding of how your environment, thoughts, behaviors, and experiences impact your gene expression and, in turn, affect your mind and body. This means you can change how past experiences might have kept you from reaching your full potential.
Your behavior and experiences can have a big impact on both yourself and your children. One study found that when parents are under stress, financially or emotionally, it can alter their children’s patterns of genetic activity through adolescence and potentially longer.
As some altered genes can affect brain development, the effects of parental stress may have long-lasting or even permanent effects on children.
So, if your parent's treatment of you has such a big effect on your adult mental and physical health before you’re born and while you’re growing up, what is it you can do about it now?
Epigenetics teaches us that although our genes are fixed, the genetic expression of these genes is malleable and can change, and this can have a huge impact on your wellbeing as well as the health of your brain.
One study found that patients with anxiety disorders had high neural activity in their amygdala and suggest a treatment like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can change the physical structure and neurofunctional response of this region of the brain.
CBT focuses on patterns in thinking, coping strategies, and regulating emotional responses. It helps an individual to learn about the relationship between thoughts, behaviors, and feelings.
The environment of your bodies, as well as your physical and work environment, can heavily influence your brains.
By fully harnessing the power of epigenetics and neuroplasticity, you can understand that today is the beginning of something new and a chance to design a new you. That means different characteristics, traits, and your health aren’t permanent.
Those traits you believe are part of your identity, such as thinking you’re bad at math, not athletic, or not tech-savvy, can be changed.
Prioritize your life to be happier and healthier in this video from Sunwarrior:
You can change your identity to be the best version of you possible.
Start by honoring your mind and body and creating new healthy habits, make small changes to your environment and declutter negative thoughts from your mind. You can set yourself onto a brighter path by changing your gene expression as well as your brain.
Improve your brain health with the right supplements like Sunwarrior Liquid Magnesium. This gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan “yoga in a bottle” helps you become stronger both physically and mentally by supplying the body with the magnesium it needs daily.
Does understanding neuroplasticity and epigenetics help you to improve yourself for the better? Share your thoughts about how you can live your best life from now on in the comments section below!