The term “neuroplasticity” was first used by Polish neuroscientist Jerzy Konorski in 1948 to describe observed changes in neuronal structure although it wasn’t widely used until the 1960s.
In the 1960s, it was discovered that neurons could “reorganize” after a traumatic event.
Further research found that stress can change not only the functions but also the structure of the brain itself (Fuchs & Flügge, 2014).
In the late 1990s, researchers found that stress can actually kill brain cells—although these conclusions are still not completely certain.
For decades, it was believed that the brain was a “nonrenewable organ,” that brain cells are bestowed in a finite amount and they slowly die as we age, whether we attempt to keep them around or not. As Ramón y Cajal said, “In adult centers the nerve paths are something fixed, ended, immutable. Everything may die, nothing may be regenerated” (as cited in Fuchs & Flügge, 2014).
This research found that there are other ways for brain cells to die, other ways for them to adapt and reconnect, and perhaps even ways for them to regrow or replenish. This is what’s known as “neurogenesis.” (based on: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/neuroplasticity/)
Our brain cells communicate with one another via synaptic transmission–one brain cell releases a chemical (neurotransmitter) that the next brain cell absorbs. This communication process is known as “neuronal firing.” When brain cells communicate frequently, the connection between them strengthens.
Your brain forms neuronal connections based on what you do repeatedly in your life – both good and bad. Worrying about every little thing. Getting angry things don’t meet your plan or are not as perfect as you wish. Exercising in the gym. Meditating. Your repeated mental states, feelings and behaviors become neural paths.
They can be both negative and positive for your well-being, we can even call them good and bad habits. We all have good habits like exercising few times a week, smiling when you meet new person, going to bed early, and the bad ones like smoking or spending time surfing in the Internet or shouting when you get angry at your kids or partner.
Forming a habit involves neuroplastic change in your brain.
Positive neuroplasticity helps to reduce negative patterns in your brain and strengthen your focus on the positive. We can actively change our brain by focusing on positive events and emotions in our life. Techniques and tools like meditation, positive psychology, CBT therapy and more are helful in developing positive mood change together with neuronal change.
A brain that imprints positive emotions becomes more resilient–you bounce back quicker from negative experiences and stress.
If you want to read further about positive neuroplasticity, I recommend Rick Hanson’s books, i.e “Hardwiring Happiness” and his website: https://www.rickhanson.net/