With very few exceptions, most of the 100 billion nerve cells in our brain and spinal cords develop before we are born and will be present throughout our lifetime. Hence, with very few exceptions our mental models are largely constructed from “connections” between brain cells not the addition of new ones. In contrast, most other animals add brain cells throughout their lives! Given the advantages that humans appear to enjoy in relation to other animals, there must be some payoff to keeping the neurons we have. So what is it? It is our ability to learn and remember information for much longer periods of time throughout our lifetime. The disadvantage is that some limiting connections established early in life get reinforced much more because we tend to continue on the path we are on. Hence, changing our mental models is essential to broadening our access to a fuller life and greater effectiveness. This is one of the things that make change both difficult and rewarding.
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