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Australia 'ill'ffilftiHi




You have a meeting with hot in 28 days,3 hours




IATTHY y fixes

Which one really work




with brain science

ls diet food


YOU FAT? Fat-free frenemies




Willpower's posse, ond hypnosis? Phwww The key to breoking (or moking) q hobit, minus fingernoil morks in the couch, is o broin re-wire. Angela Tufvesscn discovers the mind-chonging science hat would you

of way

most like to change

developinS the power of

about your health

your brain over your lileLime.

behaviou rs?



rather, by actively

ntrod uci ng neu roplasticity,

Periaps you'd liLe to dr.nk ess,

where your thoughts can

smoke less, exercise more, cut

change the structure and

back on caffeine or eat less of

function of your brain, he ping

the sweet stufi Or all of the

you to live a happier, healthier

above. brain. And not in the old-

life. The power of positive thinklng is more than just a personal traininS catchphrase

fashioned, think harder kind

it's a scientific reality.

The solution? Use your









Three reoders seek qdvice from neuroplosticity expert Suson Peorse

j j



on rewiring their minds to boost heolthy hobits.

The breakthrough

opposite. lt explains that the brain

can llterally change your mind and

The impact

As far as scientific breakthroughs

continues to adapt and change throughout Iife. Like plastic

the way it works.

That the brain is changeable

recently as the '1970s and for 400 years prior, scientists believed


response to every experience,

that the brain was static - as in unchanging in a'do the best with what you're given' kind of

reflects ihe lives we have led so

go, this one is a biggie. Rs

"You change your mind in

The structure of the brain


and its capabilities alter in line with our decisions, skills, behaviours

thought and action," says Susan Pearse, founder of Mind Gardener and co-author of Wired for Life. "Not only are

progressive loss of knowledge.

that your brain has cells 'to lose'.

Coined by Us-based psychiatrist Dr Norman Doidge

lnstead, the scientific community

from neuron, meaning brain cell,

think, say and do changes the brain

and plastic, meaning malleable, neuroplasticity posits quite the

and shapes your life. Which means

your beliefs, perceptions and views changed, but your brain's physical structure also changes. We have been training our brains slnce the day we were born and laying down the pathways for

someihing quite powerful

how we experience life."



and that damage led to the

50 *.*on

and feelings. Forget the old adage

now knows that eveMhingwe



rather than static has had


dramatic effect on the full health care spectrum. lt's altered the way doctors treat patients with brain injuries,

informed our understanding of the development of anxiety disorders and proven the power

Neuroscience Research

of motivation in even the most ardent of exercisers. Professor Peter Schofield, executive director of

reorganise does not appear to

that our attitudes, beliefs and expectatlons play an enormous role in our wellbeing, especially

made by stroke patients over

be limited to a certain period of

as we age." Think happy, be



happy. Get it?

Australia , says the principles of neuroplasticity explain the continual mental improvements

new and different areas. The capacity for the brain to heal and

"lvlany stroke patients are unable to talk directly after their stroke because the part of the brain responsible for speech is damaged," he says. "But over time - days to weeks or months - patients are able to regain the use of speech and can begin

talking again. "This could be because the brain has been repairing itsell either by generating new neurons in the damaged areas, causing neurons from other areas to grow and reach towards the damaged area, or because the brain has re-allocated some of the funciion of speech to

Dr Helena Popovic, CEO of

other people walk, then a long time developing the muscles for walking by crawling. They then practise by holding on to furniture and then finally begin

Choose Health: Better Living

The practice

taking steps, often a single one

for Busy People and author of

Whether you're a recovering

at a time.

ln Search of my Father, says

stroke patient or wannabe healthy food connoisseur, training your brain is much like a gym workout. The areas of the brain you train will get bigger;

because our mental capacity

isn't a passive victim of our genes, we have the capacity

to sharpen our thinking, improve our concentration and memory, expand our creativity and increase our learning and problem solving skills. ln the long term, this can help "reduce our risk of developing

depression, anxiety



and Alzheimer's disease," she says. "ln terms of our overall health, neuroplasticity has shown

those you don't will remain the

and result in structural and functional changes that equip the brain and body, slowly and over time, for the act of walking."

neuroplasticity equivalent of

The results

the right parts.

The brain uses habits to

"Your brain does not disiinguish between what is good for it and what is harmful,"

maximise efficiency

says Pearse. "Your brain adopts

whichever habits you have focused on and practised throughout your life. lt is just

- you'd

be exhausted ifyou had

to consciously think about everything you do each day. Research suggests that it takes as many as 66 days to cement


practised at being unhealthy as

new habit, although our experts warn that scientists have not been able to confirm these

it is to become well practised at

findings with confidence. ln any

to become very well

being healthy." Research has found the

most powerful determinant of success in changing any habit is

finding a compelling and

motivatinS reason for wanting

to change. Dr Popovic says when we find a reason that excites us and compels us into action, we release three potent brain chemicals: dopamine,

acetylcholine and adrenaline. "Dopamine opens our minds and gives us a pleasure hit that compensates for the deprivation we experience when we give something up,"

case, training your brain will take

time. Pearse says repetition and

motivation should be combined with the development of new thoughts and behaviours rather than simply layering a new healthy mindset on top of old unhealthy thouShts.

"lf you are constantly thinking 'don't smoke', for example, you're firing the same network that is already there in relation to smoking, which reinforces your need to smoke." lnstead, Pearse says you'll get faster results by focusing on the health

she says.'Acetylcholine enables us to focus on our goal and

benefits you're working towards,

consolidate changes in our brains that occur when we learn a

clearer lungs.

new skill or take on a new habit, and adrenaline fires us up and improves our strength, stamina, alertness and energy levels." Along with motivation, Prol


'All of these behaviours and experiences change the brain

flabby. But ii's important to train

as easy


spend couniless hours watchlnS

like reduced risk of illness and Also crucial is an oldfashioned dose of discipline. Time dedicated to letting the grey matter do its thing. "Just like we know we should exercise for 30 minutes a day, you should also

Schofield says one of the keys to change is repetition. "Think

exercise your mind daily," says Pearse. Simple but powerful, we

of a baby learning to walk. They



Change Your Mind  
Change Your Mind  

Article fromAustralia Women's Health & Fitness Magazine.