The Rheo in MindRheo
The Rheo in MindRheo is inspired by Rheology, the branch of physics that deals with the study of the flow properties and deformation behaviour of materials – solids, semi-solids, fluids – when forces called stress and strain are applied to them. Rheo is the Greek word for flow. Simply put, rheology is a materials science.
Think toothpaste! Toothpaste is a semisolid. Precise rheological measurements and analysis obtained by applying different degrees of stress and strain on this semisolid material enables the scientist, i.e. rheologist, to advise manufacturers about factors such as optimal consistency, concentration, ease of squeezability, and other product development and user experience elements.
Rheology therefore has collaborative and advisory implications for a diverse range of product markets ranging from cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, to paints and inks. It is a naturally ubiquitous science with applications for chemical engineering, food science, human biology, and geophysics amongst others.
Materials changing their flowability and shape in response to forces (i.e. stress and strain) applied to them, got me thinking that something similar happens in the brain. I was looking for a word that would express the fluidity of mental processes and the malleability of the brain, as it changes and makes new connections, whilst others weaken in response to sensory stimuli, biological changes, environment, education, and experience (i.e. forces) of day-to-day life.
The science of Rheology with its concepts and precision measurement serves well as an analogy to convey the foundational premise upon which MindRheo is established and continues to build, expand and diversify in its reach and applications. It also has a certain ring to it!
The brain is not static. New technologies have given rise to new knowledge and evidence. Today, neuroscientists can vouch for the fact that changes in the brain are not limited to childhood. The adult brain is capable of considerable structural and functional plasticity. Neuronal connections change and brain architecture can be modified by experience.
Our brains are dynamic, adaptable and capable of change – albeit with some restriction – throughout our lifetime. Freed from the dogma of a fixed, static, mature brain, MindRheo is about activating and accessing this plasticity through cognitive, affective and behavioural learning and education for better personal and collective life experience and outcomes.