MAY 03, 2017 04:29 PM PDT

How the things you do change your brain structure


Neuroplasticity refers to the idea that your brain changes its structure based on what you do in your life. Although this phenomenon was introduced by a scientist named William James in 1890, it only became accepted in the 1960s. Neuroplasticity plays out when certain parts of a person's brain becomes more developed, stronger in a sense, than other parts because of certain activities that they are repeating, thus activating those neurons over and over until they get very efficient.

Take London cab drivers, for instance. It has been shown that London cabbies have particularly developed hippocampuses - the part of the brain that is associated with space and memory. The connection is easy to make: years of needing to remember specific addresses and spacial directions can make you really good at it! Ballet dancers have also been shown to exhibit neuroplasticity, but for them it comes in the form of diminishing a part of the brain instead of enhancing it. Ballet dancers' brains are able to "learn" to suppress signals from their inner ears, in order to stop them from getting dizzy with all their spins and twirls! How cool is the brain!

Yet neuroplasticity can have its downside: it might be involved in why habits are so hard to break. This includes addiction, and one study showed that the brains of mice given cocaine changed in as little as two hours, making the mice actively seek out the drug.

However, don't fear! The cool part about nueroplasticity is that you can train your brain in the ways you want, focusing on certain characteristics or skills you would like to improve and doing activities in order to encourage a change!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
AUG 27, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 27, 2018
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope Celebrates 15 Years in Space
NASA engineers originally designed the Spitzer Space Telescope to observe the heavens for approximately 2.5 years. But 15 years later, the space observator...
SEP 03, 2018
Videos
SEP 03, 2018
Multitasking and Distracted Driving: You're Not as Good as You Think You Are
Driving a car is something you have to focus on, completely. Regardless of how long you’ve been driving or how familiar the route is, being distracte...
SEP 10, 2018
Videos
SEP 10, 2018
Is The Human Brain Programmable?
The brain is often referred to as a computer. Researchers have tried for years to make artificial intelligence as fast and efficient as the human brain, bu...
SEP 20, 2018
Videos
SEP 20, 2018
Is height all genetics?
For those of us who are more, ahem, vertically challenged, shall we say, it's likely that you've wondered what is responsible for your height (or l...
SEP 22, 2018
Videos
SEP 22, 2018
How Much of the Human Genome is Just Junk DNA?
Once written off as junk, it was suggested that some regions of the genome that don't code for protein act as regulators. But how much?...
SEP 24, 2018
Videos
SEP 24, 2018
The Science of Being Transgender
Gender identity is an issue that some have trouble understanding. It’s not always about male or female, because gender can encompass more than those...
Loading Comments...