Our Brains are Neuroplastic. Trauma ruins it.

Synthia Satkuna, MA Candidate

Synthia Satkuna, MA Candidate Aug 6 

According to The Conversation, neuroplasticity is defined as ability for the brain to shift and change across the lifespan in response to ongoing experiences, ranging from our genes to our environment. It changes by rewiring itself, re-learning and strengthening the bonds between the multiple synapses in our brain.

There are two main types of neuroplasticity:

  • Structural plasticity: The ability of the brain to change its physical structure when learning new things, such as when learning a new language.
  • Functional plasticity: The ability of the brain to move functions from a damaged area to a newer area, like during a traumatic event.

The Gene — Environment Interaction

Our genes alone do not change neurocognitive circumstances, it relies of information from our environment to do so. Concurrently, the environment we live in does not change our brains on its own, it relies on our genes to make it happen. In other words, the gene-environment interaction influences the rate and speed of neuroplasticity.

This is not to say that our brains are made from Play-Doh and can be molded so simply. No, what I’m suggesting here, is that the brain is quite malleable at times, for better or for worse.

What makes a brain shift?

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About S. R. Zelenz 117 Articles
S.R. Zelenz has worked in education for 20 years. Working with students from all walks of life, cultures, races, and social diversity, Zelenz’s research in Educational Leadership led to finding a better way to approach learning for students with trauma histories. Many were juvenile offenders, gang members, diagnosed with varying behavioral disorders, or had family histories of violence, murder, or narcissistic parenting. This research could not be effectively accomplished without further understanding: how epigenetic trauma inheritance may be impacting these students; how brain development from trauma may be impacting their behavioral and emotional development; as well as deep understanding of psychology and its varying classifications for behavioral and personality disorders. The goal is to find solutions for changing the conversation and making a real difference for these students. She has also worked with nonprofits of varying focus areas for the last 25 years. Her undergraduate degree in Arts Administration and Music prepared her for managing nonprofits of any size as well as procuring funding so that they can achieve their goals. Pairing her nonprofit background with her education background, she has been able to make a difference for over 200 nonprofits worldwide, written curriculum for schools across the globe, and assisted many arts organizations through performance and management.