The brain is a distributed system where many functions involve several different parts of the brain. Activation of neuroplasticity can alter many features but some such as long-term memory, sexual preference and handedness seem to be "hard-wired." Maladaptive plasticity plays a vital role in many common diseases such as chronic neuropathic pain, spasticity, and probably also conditions such as fibromyalgia. Modern technology has made it possible to study functional connection in the brain and determine the strength of the connections. Recent studies have shown how the strength of many connections in the brain varies rapidly and widely. Other studies have found that changes in connectivity are related to the symptoms and signs of many diseases such as chronic neuropathic pain, severe tinnitus and some age-related symptoms. Mood disorders such as depression, fibromyalgia, and chronic neuropathic pain have similar systems consequences. The risk of giving birth to a child with autism spectrum disorder or spina bifida is lowered if the mother takes folic acid before and during pregnancy indicating that the root cause of these diseases is errors in the brain at the early stages of pregnancy. Activity in the vagus nerve facilitates activation of neuroplasticity.
Studies have shown that electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve may facilitate reversal of maladaptive plasticity and thereby it may become a way of managing disorders such as chronic neuropathic pain that now has few effective treatments. The immune system affects neural function, and the nervous system controls the immune system. Other studies have shown that oxytocin is involved in bonding similar to that of dopamine and arginine vasopressin.
The recent discoveries in neuroscience have importance for the treatment of neurological diseases, and perhaps more important these studies show clearly that it is possible to reduce the risk of many diseases that now lack effective therapies by a change in lifestyle. Many studies have agreed that physical exercise and proper nutrition including supplements of vitamins such as especially vitamin D3, B-vitamins and omega 3 can substantially reduce the risk of many serious diseases that now lack effective treatment, including several forms of cancer and dementia including Alzheimer’s disease.
In the future, prevention might be the prime objective of health care professionals and the primary task might be to reduce the risk of acquiring diseases leaving treatments as a last resort. It would be a formidable task, however, to convince people that preventive means are potent means for reducing the risks of illness, perhaps best illustrated by the low compliance with vaccinations such as for influenza, which causes an average of 20,000 lives annually in the USA. Vaccination is very effective in reducing the death from influenza, but compliance with vaccinations is low (for adults in the USA it has been approximately 40% for many years).
Title : What is New in Neuroscience