For many years I’ve noticed the forgotten aspect of training your nervous system and the adaptations it makes to support your activity underpins all the improvements you see.
I read a beautiful research article named how brain cells change their tune and I felt it was time to explain mytheory that learning a skill depends on training our nerves.
The endurance, strength and control we develop in any skill ultimately comes down to our nerves. Bones and muscle matter but they’re all controlled by the nerves. Sadly it is the nerves that are least understood in this puzzle. We don’t consider nerves in the kinetic chain or training methods. Though a nerves ability to sustain repeated firing can determine our skill. Whether it is typing this post or delivering a lecture our nervous infrastructure determines the quality we can deliver
This study brings new evidence to my theory because it shows that the functioning of the brain depends on regulation of nerve synapses. Synapses are essentially the junction points of nerves that send information from one nerve to another ensuring that information is correctly and quickly transmitted around the brain.
The authors found that the energy supply to the synapse was key
“This is the first demonstration that links the movement of mitochondria along axons to a wide variety of nerve cell signals sent during synaptic transmission,” said Dr. Sheng.
It turns out that mitochondria can move quickly to where they are needed and by doing so they vastly increase the ability of a nerve to transmit a signal correctly and quickly.
The results suggested that the presence of stationary power plants at synapses controls the stability of the nerve signal strength.
Healthy nerves, healthy mind and body
What is clear is that the ability of a nerve to fire can quickly be improved. Much quicker than we can add new muscle cells or nerves themselves. In fact the ability to provide energy to the nerves throughout the body is becoming linked with wider health problems.
Scientists have found that age related mental decline reflects low energy levels and physical fitness?. Meaning that older brains often reflect unhealthy synapses that can not extract and use the energy they need to transmit information. Train them well and they become healthy because they can extract and use energy properly.
The finding that the quality of energy supply is crucial to the effects of Parkinsons and related heart failure? reflects the same concept. Parkinsons leads to faulty Mitochondria and thus a lack of energy to transmit nerve signals.
It seems like such a simple explanation but it also makes a lot of sense. We all know how our gadgets start to malfunction when their batteries are low and then just stop working when the electricity runs out.
Why would it be any different with our bodies!!!
Neural fitness underpins our success
How we train our nerves and get them in tip-top shape is something I’m still researching. Like training your muscles it is possible to over-train your nerves and injure them. Unfortunately, there is just less information out there about how they work and respond to training.
As it stands my best answer is the quality and quantity of your sleep is a pretty useful guide. I’ve seen paper after paper extolling the benefits of sleep. Often in very technical explanations and experiments ranging from the speed at which neurons and synapses recover to how synapses are pruned during sleep.
The purpose at this point was to make the case for the role of the nervous system in our overall success in any skill and even our overall health. It is a critical system that we know too little about.
If you want to learn more about the value of training your nerves properly then check out these references
- How your brain can heal your body: Astonishing new research reveals the brain’s ability to rewire itself can conquer pain – and overcome ‘untreatable’ illnesses
- Can training your nerves improve athletic performance?
- V-ATPase, a vital enzyme that enables neurotransmission is able to switch on and off randomly, even taking hours-long breaks.
- The central enzyme of this study, known as V-ATPase, is responsible for supplying the energy for the neurotransmitter pumps in these containers. Without it, neurotransmitters wouldn’t be pumped into the containers, and the containers wouldn’t be able to transmit messages between neurons.
- the study demonstrates that in each container, there is just one enzyme; when this enzyme switches off, there would be no more energy to drive the loading of neurotransmitters into the containers. This is an entirely new and unexpected discovery.
- Focus on neural control of energy homeostasis. A selection of Reviews, Perspectives and related research that integrate the most recent advances in our understanding of how the brain controls energy homeostasis.