Neuroplasticity: Science-Based Exercises to Rewire Your Brain


Key Information

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to adapt and change

It allows us to learn new skills, recover from trauma, and improve cognition through targeted exercises.

There are four categories of neuroplasticity-enhancing interventions

Cognitive training, physical exercise, nutrition and nootropic supplementation, and stress regulation and lifestyle practices.

You can create your customized neuroplasticity training plan

Choose 2-3 exercises from each category that suit your goals, abilities, and preferences, and practice them consistently for 4-8 weeks.

Neuroplasticity training has multiple benefits for brain health and performance

It can boost memory, attention, focus, processing speed, cognitive flexibility, problem-solving, and more. It can also alleviate brain-based disorders, slow down cognitive aging, and increase adaptability.

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As a certified Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and nootropics expert, I am fascinated by the incredible ability of our brains to rewire and reconfigure themselves throughout our lifetime. This phenomenon, known as neuroplasticity, plays a critical role in everything from early development to recovering from trauma to learning new skills.

I still remember my jaw dropping the first time I learned it was possible to purposefully sculpt and reshape the brain’s connections through targeted exercises and lifestyle practices. I dove deep into the science and was amazed by what relatively simple techniques could do to enhance cognition, alleviate depression, and optimize overall brain performance.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll share the most potent science-backed neuroplasticity exercises that literally have the power to {Learn More: Rewire Your Brain | What is Neuroplasticity} and forge new neural pathways. I’ll also recommend various nootropic supplements, biohacks, and nutrition protocols to supercharge the rewiring process.

Here’s what I’ll cover:

  • What exactly is neuroplasticity and why it matters so much
  • The different categories of neuroplasticity training techniques
  • Step-by-step instructions for creating your customized brain rewiring plan
  • Answers to common questions about neuroplastic transformation
  • Recommendations on where to source related products and supplements

Plus I’ll share encouraging examples of clients whose lives were changed by unlocking the incredible neuroplastic potential of their minds.

Let’s start by looking at what neuroplasticity is all about and why it offers so much untapped potential for upgrading your brain.

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What is Neuroplasticity and Why Retrain Your Brain?

Neuroplasticity refers to the adaptive capacity of neural connections and circuits in the brain to reorganize themselves and transform—it’s truly the source code that allows the brain to continuously update and refine its wiring diagram.

For many years, scientists believed our neuronal networks were fixed early in development. But pioneering research by neuroscientists like Michael Merzenich demonstrated that the brain is highly malleable and capable of rewiring itself based on experiences and demands placed on it [1].

This means each time we learn something new or repeat an action, the associated neural pathways morph at a structural level to encode the memory and skill. Our brains adaptively “minimize the cost of neural resources” needed to perform the task [2].

The more a certain neural circuit or connection is activated, the stronger it becomes. Meanwhile unused pathways tend to wither away in a “use it or lose it” manner [3].

This allows the brain to conserve its finite energy for high-value connections instead of devoting resources to unused, irrelevant connections.

Here’s a high-level summary of the key benefits leveraging neuroplasticity offers:

  • Enhanced Cognitive Performance: You can sculpt neural networks related to memory, attention, focus, processing speed, and more through targeted “brain training” regiments.
  • Increased Adaptability: Strengthening neuroplasticity boosts the brain’s ability to pick up new skills faster, tackle unfamiliar challenges, and navigate new environments.
  • Faster Learning: The rewiring processes that encode new memories and abilities accelerate as plasticity improves—you’ll be able to absorb novel info like a sponge.
  • Alleviating Brain-Based Disorders: Conditions like depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADD/ADHD, and some forms of pain have been associated with suboptimal plasticity—rewiring exercises can help relieve symptoms.
  • Recovering From Trauma: Neuroplastic transformation techniques are used to help patients bounce back after strokes or brain injuries as new connections are formed to compensate for damage.

The takeaway is that taking steps to enhance neuroplasticity has profound whole-brain benefits beyond just improving cognition or learning capacity in a narrow domain.

Next let’s run through the primary categories of interventions I recommend to my clients looking to supercharge their neuroplastic potential.

Client Success Story: Unlocking Neuroplasticity to Overcome Anxiety

Martha was a high finance executive struggling with growing anxiety and brain fog that was interfering with her once-sharp performance at work. We discovered she had developed leaky gut syndrome and multiple nutritional deficiencies that were constraining her brain’s plasticity and resilience.

Within 6 months of protocols to heal her gut lining, optimize nutrient levels, reduce inflammation and cortisol surges, and targeted neuroplasticity exercises Martha made a dramatic turnaround. She found her anxiety dissipating, mental stamina increasing, and confidence returning as her newly liberated neuroplastic skills allowed her brain to rewrite old negative thought loops and anxious neural patterns.

4 Categories of Neuroplasticity Enhancing Interventions

There are several categories of interventions I work with clients on that leverage different mechanisms to boost neuroplasticity and facilitate the rewiring process.

The general framework I recommend is choosing 2-3 targeted neuroplasticity exercises from each broader category below:

1. Cognitive Training Tasks that challenge existing connections and build new processing skills through repetition and practice.

2. Physical Exercise & Motor Coordination repetitively activates networks involved in movement while stimulating beneficial neurochemicals.

3. Nutrition & Nootropic Supplementation gives brain cells the raw materials for structural changes and growth of new connections.

4. Stress Regulation & Lifestyle Practices to minimize interference from inflammatory chemicals and fatiguing stimuli while activating relaxation-induced plasticity.

Let’s explore each area in more detail:

1. Cognitive Training Protocols

Cognitive training refers to various structured tasks and challenges designed to stretch your brain’s processing capabilities and forge new connections.

They aim to strengthen specific mental skills like working memory, attention switching, and cognitive flexibility through repetition and continuous challenge—just like lifting weights builds muscle.

Some of the more well-studied cognitive training programs I recommend to clients include:

A. Working Memory Challenges: Activities focused on testing and expanding your working memory taps have robust effects. For example, the dual n-back task requires simultaneously tracking visual and auditory stimuli and has demonstrated changes in prefrontal cortex connectivity [4].

B. Problem-Solving Circuits: Learning a new skill that challenges your problem-solving, analytical, and decision making capacities powerfully stimulates neuroplasticity as you assimilate novel techniques.

C. Processing Speed Drills: Speed drills that emphasize quickly perceiving information, making match/mismatch judgments, and responding taps into the brain’s salience network and boosts attention.

Related Products: To take your cognitive training to the next level, check out these {Learn More: Best Nootropics for Studying} and supplements designed to sharpen focus and energize the rewiring process. The {Learn More: Qualia Mind Review} also discusses nootropic products supporting plasticity.

2. Physical Exercise and Motor Learning

Vigorous physical exercise powerfully stimulates a cascade of neurochemicals like BDNF, NMDA, and norepinephrine that spark neuroplastic change [5].

In particular, motor coordination activities that require complex movement patterns, balance, and rapid reactions seem to turn on neuroplasticity genes and growth factors [6]. This makes activities like dance, tennis, badminton, or even just learning to juggle particularly potent rewiring stimuli.

Let’s look at some of the most effective ways to leverage exercise for neuroplastic gains:

  • A. HIIT Training: Short, intense cardio bursts trigger endorphin and BDNF release for growth of new neurons and connections. Varying high-intensity intervals recruits more motor units.
  • B. Coordination-Intensive Sports: As described, activities demanding complex motor sequencing, timing, and balance excel at activating plasticity genes during the skill-building phase.
  • C. Strength Training: Lifting relatively heavy weights puts resistance on muscles and nerves, driving adaptation and increased gray matter density.

Related Products: The following fitness gear and {Learn More: Best Nootropic Supplements for your Yoga Practice} can complement a neuroplasticity-focused training program with circulation-boosting infrared heat, electrical nerve stimulation or atmospheric oxygenation support:

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Client Success Story: Harnessing Physical Exercise to Rewire Addiction Pathways

Nick had struggled for years to overcome alcohol addiction that destroyed his marriage and cost him jobs due to repeated relapses. We identified that stepping up his exercise frequency not only helped manage stress levels more constructively but also stimulated neuroplasticity factors that allowed healthier, intrinsic reward pathways to come online so alcohol cravings gradually faded over time.

3. Nutrition and Nootropic Supplementation

Optimizing intake of key nutrients provides the basic molecular building blocks for growth of new connections during the process of neuroplastic change [7].

Similarly, evidence-based nootropic supplements can support and enhance the neuroplastic response and structural rewiring.

Here are some of the most important diet and supplement considerations:

A. Omega 3s: Omega 3 fatty acids like DHA play vital structural roles in building neuronal membranes and modulating plasticity. The {Learn More: Best Omega 3 Supplement for Cognitive Health} article explores top options.

B. B Vitamins and Minerals: Thiamine, folate, magnesium and zinc are needed as cofactors for critical plasticity enzymes, gene expression modulation and synthesis work.

C. Antioxidants and Polyphenols: Compounds like curcumin combat inflammation and free radical damage to newly formed connections and circuits. The {Learn More: Best Natural Mood Enhancing Nootropics} piece covers more examples.

D. Nootropics: Lion’s Mane Mushroom contains nerve growth factors to stimulate sprouting of new connections. {Learn More: Alpha-GPC vs Citicoline} are potent choline sources that support acetylcholine learning neurotransmitters.

Related Products: Here is a select list of science-backed nutrition and supplements that feed into the neuroplastic response:

  • {Learn More: Mind Lab Pro Review} – All-in-one nootropic stack supporting multiple aspects of plasticity
  • {Learn More: Performance Lab Omega-3 Review} – Ultra-pure DHA/EPA supporting synapse formation
  • {Learn More: Qualia Mind Review} – Popular nootropic pairing neuroplasticity nutrients with botanicals

4. Stress Modulation and Lifestyle Practices

Chronic stress exposure activates inflammatory pathways and glutamatergic activity that can become neurotoxic over time—yet are natural consequences of our busy modern lifestyles [8].

Actively mitigating harmful stress inputs through lifestyle design choices allows the brain to devote more energy towards productive neuroplasticity processes.

Additionally, practices that cultivate relaxation and contentment stimulate theta brainwave patterns that are correlated with enhanced plasticity according to Stanford neuroscience researcher Dr. Emma Seppala [9].

Here are some of my top recommendations in this category:

A. Gratitude Journaling: Taking time to actively appreciate and savor rewarding experiences trains the brain to redirect from perceived threats and strengthens dopamine “seeking” circuits.

B. Meditation and Yoga: As mentioned, relaxing the body and quieting the mind triggers neuroplasticity on a cellular level while lowering cortisol.

C. Music Immersion: Listening attentively to harmonious music you enjoy enhances neurogenesis in memory and auditory processing regions.

D. Time in Nature: The natural settings tend to effortlessly capture attention with positively-valenced stimuli and lower stress physiology [10].

Related Products: The following resources help mitigate modern stresses and minimize interference with the rewiring process:

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Client Success Story: Stress Reduction and Mindfulness to Overcome Trauma

Susan struggled with intimacy and cognitive disorganization after escaping an abusive relationship. By learning to re-direct thoughts and break free from rumination paired with yoga, neurofeedback, and supportive community Susan rewired neural connections related to self-worth and confidence that greatly improved her outlook and relationships.

Creating Your Customized Neuroplasticity Training Blueprint

The exercises you choose for your personalized neuroplasticity training plan will depend on your starting cognitive abilities, health status, needed lifestyle outcomes, and personal preferences.

Here is a step-by-step process for strategically developing your custom rewiring roadmap that I take clients through:

The goal is to settle into a groove over 30-60 days where the neuroplasticity exercises become habitual and can work their magic rewiring your brain!

Next let’s review some frequently asked questions about the process of neuroplastic transformation:

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How long does it take to see results from neuroplasticity-based brain training programs?

A: Most studies show measurable changes in brain processing capabilities and structure after 4-8 weeks of consistent protocols on relevant outcomes. That said, the brain can continue positively adapting and refining over much longer periods so persistence pays exponential dividends.

*Q: Are there downsides or risks associated with deliberately trying to rewire my brain? *

A: There can be if excessive stimulation is pursued prematurely before establishing an adequate foundation of nutrition, rest, and stress resilience which may fatigue brains cells. Additionally, pushing too hard beyond one’s current abilities risks frustration and giving up. But adopting a gradual progressive approach minimizes such issues.

Q: What signs indicate my neuroplasticity training is actually working?

A: Improved scores on cognitive assessments used initially to identify target skills for improvement are clear indicators, as are noticing enhancements in learning ability, memory, focus, etc in daily activities. Higher energy, better moods, and boosted motivation also signal your rewiring efforts bear fruit!

Q: Can enhancing neuroplasticity reverse or slow down cognitive aging declines?

A: Absolutely! Research confirms sustained engagement in mentally stimulating activities, learning new skills, physical exercise, and healthy diets preserves neuroplasticity and cognitive capacity across the lifespan [11] [12]

Where To Buy Recommended Neuroplasticity Products

As you develop and refine your custom brain rewiring plan, be sure to source high quality versions of the nutritional supplements, nootropics, functional foods, testing services, and related gear that will take your efforts to the next level.

Here is a hand-picked list of premiere providers carrying best-in-class offerings I trust to underpin transformative results:

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Check back on the site soon as I’ll be reviewing all the latest neuroplasticity-boosting innovations!

I hope you found this guide illuminating and it sparks some ideas on how to leverage your brain’s incredible potential to continuously learn, grow and adapt right up until our final days!

Please share any questions or personal experiences with neuroplasticity training in the comments below. I may incorporate insights into future content on the frontiers of neural rewiring and empower more people to unlock their brain’s dynamic properties!

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Erik Abramowitz is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP), Naturopathic Doctoral student, health coach, and father. He is the primary content creator for and the host of the Holistic Nootropics Podcast.

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