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The BBC today reports that “complex tasks such as juggling produce significant changes to the structure of the brain”. These findings come from a study that performed brain scans on 48 volunteers before and after a six-week period, in which half of them were learning how to juggle. At the end of the study, jugglers showed a 5% increase in the white matter in an area at the back of the brain called the intraparietal sulcus. This is an area that is involved in “reaching and grasping for objects in our peripheral vision”.
This study indicates that learning a complex skill can result in changes in brain structure. This research will be of interest to the research community, but at the moment the practical implications of these findings are unclear. One of the authors suggests that this sort of knowledge could eventually help in developing new treatments for neurological diseases, but acknowledges that such clinical applications are a long way off.
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