Simply and basically, thinking can be described as a cluster of neurons firing at the same moment, which are stimulated by electrochemical reactions through the brainstem. In that regard, we can say that every occurrence affecting neuron connections alters the way we think or conceive. In this article, I will discuss how enriched environments, potentially, improves neural pathways in the brainstem.
Concomitantly, animals living in an enriched environment – stimulating environment – take the next level in comparison to ‘un-enriched’ animals considering physical changes in the brain structure and chemistry. As opposed to being in an inert environment, experiencing an enriched environment stimulates neurons to create new pathways and connections.”Research since the early 1990s on ‘enriched’ animals has revealed a wide range of physical changes in the brain at the level of individual neuronal networks, as well as demonstrating that the duration of the enrichment experience is a significant factor(1). ” Also, the enrichment experience instigates general increases in cognitive functioning such as learning ability, spatial and problem-solving skills, and processing speed(1). Of course, it would be compelling to apply an enrichment experience model on humans, but we can think enriched environments as places offering new external experiences evocative of knowledge for our brains, for instance, libraries and museums. In these enriched environments, neurons alter the brain structure and chemistry by flourishing and burgeoning although there is an internal hindrance.
As the enrichment experience alters the brain structure and chemistry, the outcome might be a permanent increase in intelligence if the exposure is long enough. As a thought experiment, we can inspect fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence after the enrichment experience. Psychologist Raymond Cattell first thought up these two distinct concepts back in 1963. “Cattell defined fluid intelligence as ‘the ability to perceive relationships independent of previous specific practice or instructions concerning those relationships’. This skill is considered independent of learning(2).” Conversely, crystallized intelligence involves knowledge that comes from prior learning and past experiences. In other words, crystallized intelligence is about internalizing new information and knowledge in comparison to older experiences. In an enriched environment, the improved neural network lets neurons make neural connections stronger hence fluid intelligence works better hypothetically. In that regard, the ability to perceive and comprehend relationships according to previous experiences and knowledge is also enhanced. Succinctly, the enriched experience makes neural connections and branches burgeon in the brainstem by altering the brain structure and chemistry and therefore improves fluid and crystallized intelligence considerably in a hypothetical scenario.
(1) Greenfield, Susan. "How the Brain Changes." Mind Change: How digital technologies are leaving their mark on our brains. Penguin Random House, 2015. 67. Print.
(2) Greenfield, Susan. "How the Brain Changes." Mind Change: How digital technologies are leaving their mark on our brains. Penguin Random House, 2015. 85-86. Print.
Figure - 63.1 http://www.rhsmpsychology.com/images/enriched%20environment.jpg
Figure - 63.2 https://examinedexistence.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/crystallized-fluid-842x560.jpg