Neural pruning

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Ottawa Mindfulness Clinic

Neural pruning is the process of removing neurons that are no longer used or useful in the brain.  Don’t try it at home!  It’s a natural process in the brain that happens at different developmental stages.  Children’s brains grow rapidly and in the flood of new learning, neural pathways are created that are useful in some stages but not others.  At the initial stages of acquiring new skills, neurons grow thickly and rapidly.  Neuroscientist Donald Hebb is often quoted as saying “Neurons that fire together wire together.”  But eventually, as some behaviours are found to be more useful and used more often, some of the pathways die out.  It’s this process of strengthening and “pruning” that allows us to continue learning and maturing through our lifetime.

Dan Siegel writes in The Mindful Brain:

When we focus our attention in specific ways, we are activating the brain’s circuitry.  This activation…

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