Your Plastic Brain

I used to think the brain was the greatest organ in the body, then I realized who was telling me this.   —Emo Phillips

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What we know about the brain is changing rapidly as we bend our ever-increasing computer processing power to the task of scanning brain activity at higher and higher resolutions. One thing we’ve learned is that the brain remains plastic as we age. Learning changes its structure.

A recent study titled “Training induces changes in white-matter architecture,” was published October 11 in the neuroscience section of Nature (and “translated” by ABC Science here). The study looked at the growth of white matter in the brains of young adults learning to juggle. Yes, jugglers. They found significant differences in the brains of jugglers who were encouraged to practice 30 minutes a day over the course of a 6 week training period. Of course, we can assume (as long as we’re not hard-core empiricists) this holds true for other disciplines, too, like music.

Other studies confirm this, and extend the brain’s plasticity well into old age. I’ll post more about this fascinating topic soon.

No matter how old you are, you can still learn.

Animation of 3 ball cascade , also known as a ...
Image via Wikipedia
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