April 3, 2015
Right now, I’m thinking about neural connections and epigenetics.
New research is showing remarkable things about the way our bodies and minds work. These effect all our experiences as human beings, including our daily lives, our physical health, our relationships, our emotional well being, our intelligence, our family lives, our economic well-being, and so much more.
Unfortunately, much of the general population is unaware of recent groundbreaking studies currently being published on these topics.
The neural connections in our brains control our behavior and experience throughout life. They send signals to our bodies directing all our conscious and subconscious behaviors.
The average human brain contains about 100 billion neurons, nerve cells which connect to each other through signals sent along pathways called synapses. In a human being, the neural connections begin forming in the womb and continue to form throughout life. However, there is an incredible burst of neural connectivity in the first several years of life.
Each individual’s brain connections are unique.
The primary neural connections are formed based on the individual’s genetic makeup including epigenetic markers on those genes.
Epigenetics is the process by which the environment creates signatures on the genes affecting how and to what degree they express themselves. Epigenetic signatures can be enduring and can be passed down through the generations.
Many additional and more detailed neural connections are formed in line with the individual’s experiences. It is during the first few years and based on the experiences of the first few years when a burst of activity takes place during which the majority of the brain’s neural pathways are formed. These are the connections that will control the individual’s behavior and experience throughout life.
During development, the neurons and synapses also undergo a process called pruning in which rarely used connections are eliminated as unnecessary so that ones that are used frequently become more efficient.
After the first several years, many of these connections undergo another process called myelination, which involves the formation of a sheath of tissue around them so that they become more efficient as well as much harder to change.
The bottom line is that much of our behavior and experience is based in neural pathways in our brains the most fundamental of which are formed in earliest childhood. Our parents are the most important influencers of the way these pathways form. The experiences we fail to have also have lifelong effects due to the pruning process.