Brain building

By • Published: January 19th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Whether it involves work, school, kids, relationships or leisure time, people have become quite practiced at juggling.

But if you want to get some real brain exercise, try the real thing.

Scientists at the University of Oxford have found juggling… we’re talking about keeping three or more objects moving through the air… strengthens the connections between different parts of the brain.

And the best part about it? You don’t have to be all that good.

Scientists say even bad juggling appears to make physical changes in the brain’s white matter, which is where communication circuits called axons reside.

The researchers gave twenty-four young men and women a juggling kit… three pairs of rolled up socks work, too… and had them practice for a half hour a day for six weeks.

Brain scans from the beginning and end of the six weeks showed the jugglers actually amassed white matter in a part of the brain involved in connecting vision and movement.

No such transformation took place in the brains of twenty-four non-jugglers.

Even better for the jugglers, the researchers discovered that the new brain matter stayed put even after they quit juggling. That might explain why once people learn a skill… riding a bike is the tried and true example… they may get rusty, but they never completely forget.

Further study of how juggling alters the brain could lead to insight into the prevention of brain diseases or even the discovery of drugs that could help people recover lost neural abilities.

If you want to do your own research, just remember to remove all the breakables from the room.