Friday, August 24, 2012

Reasoning Training (Taxi Driving) Alters Brain Structure

Directly below, one of my co-bloggers has a post that says "Intensive preparation for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) actually changes the microscopic structure of the brain, physically bolstering the connections between areas of the brain important for reasoning."  Other studies have concluded the same thing; that directed learning changes the neurobiological structure of the brain.  (see generally Duane F. Shell et. al., The Unified Learning Model (2010)).  In fact, one study has discovered that "Structural MRIs of the brains of humans with extensive navigation experience, licensed London taxi drivers, were analyzed and compared with those of control subjects who did not drive taxis. The posterior hippocampi of taxi drivers were significantly larger relative to those of control subjects. A more anterior hippocampal region was larger in control subjects than in taxi drivers."  (here)  In other words, the brain region associated with navigation is larger in taxi drivers than in non-taxi drivers.   These authors concluded, "It seems that there is a capacity for local plastic change in the structure of the healthy adult human brain in response to environmental demands."  In sum, learning not only changes the synapses in our brains, it can actually grow brains.

(Scott Fruehwald

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