Neural plasticity is the key to changes in intelligence. It occurs during short-term memory when a stimulus with a high frequency of activation causes improvement of a brain cell’s sensitivity to signals received from an associated cell. This change in neural connectivity allows information to be more easily processed, as the neural connection associated with that information becomes stronger.

It has been shown to play a large role in the development of the senses. For instance, blind patients have learned to “see” through tactile stimulation of their backs and tongues. The brain rewires the visual cortex to further process and interpret tactile stimulation in replacement of eyesight.

There are numerous behavioral factors that affect intellectual development. The key is neural plasticity, which is caused by experience-driven electrical activation of neurons. This experience-driven activation causes axons to sprout new branches and develop new presynaptic terminals. These new branches often lead to greater mental processing in different areas.

Those with a belief in fixed intelligence show less improvement on cognitive testing than people with a belief in neural plasticity, and a focus on performance goals and proving intelligence causes negative feedback and failure. Those who focus on flexible and expansive learning goals rebound well from occasional failure or feedback. By focusing on challenging tasks to expand intelligence instead of working to prove intelligence, neural plasticity allows greater intellectual capacity.

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