Training changes the structure of the brain

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For a long science thought that after the natural development in childhood, the only change in the brain’s structure later in life would be the loss of brain cells and weakening of connections between the cells.The only direction for our brain performance after we celebrate our 25th birthday shall be decrease.

Great news shook up the scientific world, as in 2004 researchers showed that motor exercises, such as learning to juggle, produce structural changes in those brain regions that are activated during motor movements. The brain adapted to the challenges of catching and throwing many balls at once by increasing connections to become better and that task. But what happens when you challenge your brain with more complex tasks, like NeuroNation brain games. Neuroscientists could recently show how your brain develops after cognitive activities and why training improves the brain’s basic architecture.

How does our Brain work?

The brain consists mainly from grey and white matter. Grey matter is formed by brain’s nerve cells, the neurons. The Neurons are responsible for information processing in the brain. White matter consists of the fibers that connect the cell bodies from different brain regions, and it plays a crucial role in the transfer of information from one part of the brain to another.

Changes in the brain’s structure

Recent studies show that spatial navigation or language training of only a couple of months expanded the volume of gray matter and therefore produced more substance for cognitive processing. For example, if more neurons are created, you can see a thickening of the gray matter. If the thickening occurs in the part of the brain that is responsible for memory, the increase in gray matter volume can be perceived as improved memory functions.

Brain Training activities also showed an increase of white matter. Already three weeks of working memory training increased the insulation around the fiber connections (like rubber around an electric cable) making the connections more solid. This means that information transfer throughout the brain became faster and more precise. This leads to improved cooperation and networking between different brain regions.

What does it mean for me?

Such improvements have strong behavioral benefits. For example being better able to focus on a specific task longer, switch from one task to another (e.g. finishing that email, you began before a call interrupted you) and also to remember, what you wanted to do or put on your shopping list. Therefore, brain training restructures the brain towards more efficient cognitive functioning.

Experience the good feeling of a focused mind and start your training today. It’s your time that counts.

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Sources:

[1] Draganski, B. et al. Neuroplasticity: changes in grey matter induced by training. Nature 427, 311–312 (2004).
[2] Scholz, J. et al. Training induces changes in white-matter architecture. Nature Neuroscience 12, 1370–1371 (2009).
[3] Wenger, E. et al. Cortical thickness changes following spatial navigation training in adulthood and aging. NeuroImage 59, 3389-3397 (2012).
[4] Mårtensson, J. et al. Growth of language-related brain areas after foreign language learning. NeuroImage 63, 240-244 (2012).
[5] Takeuchi, H. et al. Training of working memory impacts structural connectivity. The Journal of Neuroscience 30, 3297-3303 (2010).
[6] Salminen, T. et al. Increased integrity of white matter pathways after dual n-back training. NeuroImage 133, 244-250 (2016).

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