The brain produces billions of tiny electrochemical pulses every second and routes them through trillions of networks, thus creating the most adaptive and powerful energy system in the universe. Now we can measure how much energy is being produced, where and when it is produced, how independently brain areas can work and how efficiently they can work together, how flexible and how stable are its patterns.
One of the key findings about the brain is that, like all complex chaotic systems, it tends to maintain stable patterns over long periods of time. Over the past 20 years, researchers have shown that these stable activation patterns tend to relate to how we see the world, how we act in it, how we feel, think and learn. What’s more, as with many parts of the body, we have the power to change those patterns by training. Just as aerobic exercise can change the ability of our cardio-pulmonary systems to sustain higher energy levels, so can training change the capabilities of our brains. And changing our brains changes how we think, feel, act and perform.
Finally, although the brain uses chemicals to help pass its information, adding chemicals from the outside (medications) tends not to produce lasting changes. Over time, the brain adjusts to them. Exercising to change the energy system, however, changes the chemistry naturally, and the effects last.