Brains are not static. Brains continue to change throughout people's lives. This is
called neuroplasticity. These changes take place in the form of new neural pathways
being created and old pathways fading. 

                      How do we create new neural pathways? 

                New neural pathways can be made with new experiences.

Any time you do something new, you have begun to form a new neural pathway, 
and thus alter your neural net or “map." Studies have shown that a new neural
pathway can be fully developed within 23-30 days.  Sounds a lot like a habit
doesn’t it?  The most staggering thing to consider about this is that a neural pathway can be related to nearly anything: a thought or behavior, a decision to perceive or react to something differently, something you are wanting to learn, or something you have done for your whole life.

This helps explain the phrase "practice makes perfect." Even Michael Jordan had a moment where he felt awkward dribbling a basketball, and likely missed several baskets during his first few years of playing.  But who can even imagine the neural net his brain has formed around the skill of playing basketball now?

The most freeing thing about the concept of neural plasticity is that it leaves us with the understanding that we have the ability to learn and develop new options for ourselves. It takes new experiences, along with the regular movement in the direction we want to go, to form those new neural pathways and re-wire our neural nets.

reprinted and adapted from: