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Classic Ideas in Modern Formats

Dale Napier, Writer

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Neural Plasticity
5 Oct 2010
When I was a boy in school, I recall being taught that our brain cells stop growing at about the age of 35, and that they do nothing but die from that point on. We all thought it creepy, but at the age of 10 or 12 you don't worry much about turning 35.

In the last ten years neuroscientists have made tremendous discoveries about the brain that completely change how we think about it. They have discovered that new brain cells often grow, and new neural pathways are often formed deep into old age. This brain growth, or neuroplasticity, has tremendous implications for the practice of Tai Chi Chuan.

Tai Chi can be thought of as a method for reprogramming the brain. We have long known that Tai Chi is good for balance - good for regaining balance, good for repairs to our nervous system, good for leg strengthening. Now these benefits can be thought of in the context of stimulating new brain growth directly. This new brain growth is likely the method by which many Tai Chi benefits occur. Neuroscientists know that the type of exercise, whether physical or mental, or a combination as Tai Chi is, directly affects the type of brain growth that occurs. This is the reason that post-middle-age adults are encouraged to engage in cognitive exercises, to keep their minds alive through continuous growth of brain cells and neural pathways.

Other aspects of brain research have focused on what causes long-term memory versus short-term memory. The answer is - repetition! Short-term memory residing in the pre-frontal cortex is built easily, but long-term memory resides in the hippocampus. The details of how memories transfer from the cortex to the hippocampus are still not clear, but one thing is clear: repetition, through practice, stimulates the transfer.

So go practice!

Tai Chi Ball
19 Sep 2011
Crashing the Wave
12 Sep 2011
Moving From the Waist
5 Sep 2011
Tai Chi vs. Qigong (Chi Kung)
28 Jul 2011
Practicing Too Much
16 Jun 2011
Practicing While Not Practicing
1 May 2011
Hiding it
9 Mar 2011
Tai Chi Community
13 Feb 2011
Accepting in Everyday Life
2 Nov 2010
Accepting in Martial Arts
27 Oct 2010
Neural Plasticity
5 Oct 2010
Dental Song
14 Sep 2010
Habit Forming
12 Jul 2010
Best Practices
11 Jun 2010
Morning Ritual
17 May 2010
Intention - Fantasy versus Reality
12 Apr 2010
Tai Chi Your Life
7 Mar 2010
Invest in Silence
22 Jan 2010
Steel Mist
13 Dec 2009
22 Nov 2009
Tai Chi Recovery
12 Nov 2009
Illness as an Investment
22 Oct 2009
Indulge Yourself
1 Sep 2009
Illness and Tai Chi Challenges
28 Jul 2009
All Tai Chi Chuan is Good
16 Jul 2009
Training with the Grandmasters
7 Jul 2009
Zoning Out
19 Jun 2009
Form and Practice
8 May 2009
Tai Chi Friends Around the World
5 Apr 2009
The Yin and Yang of Season Change
30 Mar 2009
No Strain, No Gain
22 Feb 2009
No Pain, No Gain?
4 Feb 2009
Cheer Up!
11 Jan 2009
Gong Qi and Qi Gong
19 Dec 2008
Winter Solstice Celebration
8 Dec 2008
2 Dec 2008
Acquiring without Seeking
20 Oct 2008
How to Not Focus on Focusing
7 Oct 2008
Elements Trump Class
15 Sep 2008
Fall Forward: Celebrate the Change of Seasons
3 Sep 2008
July Full Moon Observation
8 Jul 2008
Summer Solstice Celebration Friday
19 Jun 2008
What is Tai Chi?
12 Jun 2008
Tai Chi: The Next Generation
12 May 2008
30 Apr 2008
First Steps in Tai Chi
20 Apr 2008
Tai Chi and Yoga
5 Dec 2007
Avoiding Carpal Tunnel Problems
16 Nov 2007
More Power of Intention
18 Sep 2007
Are you Continuous?
22 Aug 2007
Tai Chi Tournaments
30 Jul 2007
Healthy Tai Chi
2 Jul 2007
Continuity and Perseverance
30 May 2007
New Classes Added
13 May 2007
Observe World Tai Chi Day at the Houston Taoism Meetup
27 Apr 2007
Falls and Tai Chi
17 Apr 2007
The Important of Intention: Separating Fantasy from Reality
12 Apr 2007
"New Session"
2 Apr 2007
Coping with Grief and Sadness
26 Mar 2007
Missing Classes
24 Mar 2007
Spring and the Five Elements
20 Mar 2007
Tai Chi: Easy or Tough?
13 Mar 2007
My First Blog: A Message to Students After Their First Class
6 Mar 2007