In this week's text, I found the idea of neural plasticity invigorating. Recently, I have found myself hooked on the same thought when reflected on my latest leisure reading, Who Switched off Your Brain?, by Dr. Caroline Leaf. Leaf states, "The way we think influences the way we talk and behave - every action or word first begins as a thought. Thoughts grow into words and actions that affect our relationships and can physically change the structures of our brains."
Neuroplasticity is the ability to alter those nature made structures through nurture. Leaf further asserts that a process called epigenetics exists that surpasses the realms of nature and nurture. "In essence, [it is] the process by which... thought impulses select, modify and regulate gene activity," says Leaf. More basically, this means we can change our own brains by how we think. She asserts, "thinking and choosing activates reactions, which in turn activates genetic expression, meaning proteins are made... so, there is an actual physical change in brain structures as we think." This in turn shapes our biology, which means we can change the way we perceive events by consciously making an effort to grow "positive thought trees."
In reflecting on the claims by Leaf and your own personal experience, do you think you can alter your actions and impulses by conscious thought? Furthermore, if you believe the latter question to be true, do you think these changes alter your biology and the genes passed to your children?