How Learning New Skills Rewire Your Brain

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How Learning New Skills Rewire Your Brain により Mind Map: How Learning New Skills Rewire Your Brain

1. Neuroplasticity

1.1. Every time you learn a new skill, you change your brain. More specifically, you change the connections inside it. This ability to change according to the challenges it faces, is called neuroplasticity.

2. You are born with the machinery to transform a beginners clumsiness into fast, fluent action.

2.1. That machinery (your body and brain), is controlled by you. Our bodies and brains are amazingly adaptable, and will gradually try to adapt to any challenge or condition you present it to.

2.2. If presented with a challenging environment, our body and mind changes.

2.3. The body and mind prefers when things are easy, and so will try to adapt itself to make it simpler to perform a task next time.

2.4. By straining your body when learning a certain skill, you are signaling that this is important, and telling it to devote more resources to this challenge.

2.5. The results of practicing a specific skill, is that we are strengthening neural connections, which makes it much easier to perform fast, fluent and precise actions.

2.6. How your brain changes during learning.

3. It’s all about having the right connections

3.1. By practicing a new skill, you start creating new connections and pathways in your brain.

3.2. If you do a certain movement, specific neurones will be activated. And if you keep doing this movement, you are telling your body that this is important, which leads to higher activation from each neuron and activation from more neurons

3.3. Often used connections are strengthened, while rarely used connections are weakened or eliminated (this is called synaptic pruning). Cutting of the weakest, most unused connections leaves the whole brain more efficient.

3.4. Your neurones don’t know the correct way to do something. So, it is essential that you practice with quality.

3.5. That we are physically reorganising our brain, also explains why learning a new skill takes time.

4. Make some mistakes

4.1. Targeted, mistake-focused practice is so effective, because the best way to build a good neural circuit is to fire it, attend to mistakes, then fire it again, over and over. Struggle is not an option: it’s a biological requirement.

4.2. It is normal to fear making mistakes, but it’s necessary to challenge yourself to stretch past your current capabilities.

4.3. And it has been found that a lot of our deepest satisfaction in life comes from our willingness to expose ourselves to new challenges and engage in novel experiences.

4.4. By taking on new challenges and overcoming them, you are creating a better life for yourself.

5. Stress your body to rewire your brain

5.1. The body will only change when we present it with a challenging environment or learning task.

5.2. By trying to do something just outside your capability, the body will try to adapt, to be able to perform.

5.3. To grow your muscles or improve the connections within your brain, it is therefore necessary to push your limits.

5.4. If on the other hand, you are just repeating what you already know, you will maintain your current skill level, but will not improve much.

5.5. If you don’t do anything, things you have previously known how to do, will gradually weaken and disappear from your skillset.

5.6. Only by stressing the body can we push it to become stronger, faster, more agile or flexible.

6. Don’t strengthen the connections you don’t want

6.1. If you repeatedly practice poor technique, you will only improve at doing something poorly.

6.2. Poor practice=Poor skill

6.3. Practicing when tired is therefore often not great for improvement, and in the worst case you could become worse. If you feel tired, it may be better to take a rest.

7. Use it or loose it

7.1. Hebb’s Law: What fires together, wires together

7.2. The body doesn’t want to use resources on what it doesn’t think is important, and will not remember skills and movement patterns that you don’t use. By not using a skill, you are telling it that this is not important.

8. Take home message

8.1. By practicing a skill, you are strengthening the neural connections, which makes it easier to perform a task in the future.

8.2. These sort of changes requires effort, which means that good learning is not easy.

8.3. If you practice with quality over time, repeating the movements you want, you change your brain and build new connections and capability.