Over the years, hundreds of scientific studies have been conducted on our abilities to learn new things. But the ability to learn involves much more than building and strengthening neural connections. Just as important as embedding new information is to delete old unnecessary information. Neuroscientists describe this deletion as ‘synaptic pruning’.
Imagine your brain is like a garden. Just as flowers, fruits and vegetables grow and develop in the garden, synaptic connections between neurons in our brain grow and develop. These links; Dopamine, serotonin, and other neurotransmitters are also the main pathways used. Glia cells, on the other hand, can be regarded as our brain’s gardeners, working to speed up signals between certain neurons. Elements known as microglial cells, on the other hand, work as waste removers or pruning gardeners that collect weeds, kill pests, collect dead leaves, and prune our synaptic connections. So how do they know which connections will be truncated and which ones will be strengthened?
Researchers are only beginning to gain new knowledge on this scientific mystery, but an important fact that has already been reached is that less used synaptic connections are marked by the protein named C1q. When microglial cells detect this signal, they can bind to protein and destroy synapses. Thanks to these strengthening and pruning work, our brain creates new physical spaces for us to make stronger connections so that we can learn more.
Have you ever felt like your brain is completely full? Sometimes we feel this way when starting a new job or a project, and this can disturb our sleep. When we learn too much new things, our brains start making new connections, but these are insufficient and temporary connections. Our brains must melt away many of these connections and create new and smooth pathways for the persistence of new information; He can do this while we have a good sleep. While we sleep, our brain cleans itself. To make room for the glial gardener cells, our brain cells shrink by up to 60% and begin to digest waste.
When we suddenly wake up from sleep at night, we realize that we cannot think clearly and quickly at that time, that we are ‘stunned’. This is because all pruning and road efficiency processes that take place overnight have made room for new information and ‘created gaps in our minds’. This also explains the usefulness of taking short naps during the day. A nap of 10-20 minutes gives microglial gardeners a chance to emerge and make room for new ones by weeding out unused connections. Thinking with a sleepless brain is like trying to move through a dense forest with an ax. The garden in our brain has turned into a neglected wild forest, and trying to move forward here is quite tiring. All paths are intertwined and not enough light can get in. Thinking with a well-rested brain is like walking around happily in Central Park. The roads are open, you can see the connection points, and the trees are well maintained.
It is possible that we have some control over the things that our brain wipes while sleeping. Synaptic connections that we do not use are marked as ‘go for recycling’, and those we use often receive regular maintenance. Therefore, it is necessary to pay attention to what we preoccupy our minds with and what we often think about. If you keep reading the theories of Game of Thrones and have little interest in your work, guess which synapses are marked as ‘ready for recycling’? Or if you’re thinking about someone with tension at your workplace, your brain will also make room for you to think about how to deal with or take revenge on that person instead of opening up the space you need for big projects. To take advantage of our brain’s natural gardening system, we simply need to review what’s important to us. The gardeners in your brain will strengthen the pathways for those you care about and prune out those related to the things you care less about in a short time.
Referanslar: Judah Pollack ve Olıvıa Fox Cabane, “Your Brain Has A “Delete” Button–Here’s How To Use It”. (19.12.2019). Şuradan alındı: https://www.fastcompany.com/3059634/your-brain-has-a-delete-button-heres-how-to-use-it?fbclid=IwAR0Mg_YrsEODJV9jXpVzwyysXPEC9SOwfM5GQLyGOZwnKP3YLUawDp90xOk