The Training Effect Strikes Back


A few weeks ago I mentioned brain training games and questioned whether they’re all the marketeers make them out to be. I suggested a range of activities that help out in keeping the brain young and healthy. But there’s one I forgot – juggling!

It seems that juggling increases brain power. Scientists from Oxford University have concluded that performing complex tasks like juggling can produce significant changes to the brain, such as increasing white matter, which acts as the ‘cabling network’ of the brain.

This doesn’t surprise me too much. I knew that the brain can change its organisation according to the new experiences we have. In other words, not only do we experience the world as our brain lets us, our brain also alters according to what we think. This two-way loop is known as neuroplasticity. It’s cool.

Also, unknown to most people, we have a sense beyond the common five called the kinesthetic sense. It deals with our ability to sense the relative position of our body in relation to itself. Also called proprioception, those with high levels of this sense often become excellent dancers, martial artists or athletes. Applied to training, it refers to a learning style that by which someone learns best by getting involved rather than watching or listening.

Like most skills in life, it is possible to train yourself so that this skill is increased. A useful Wikipedia entry (aren’t they all?) suggests juggling to improve your kinesthetic ability, along with training on a wobble board or balance board, use of an exercise ball, Tai Chi and Yoga, and the Alexander Technique.

I’ve wanted to learn to juggle for some time but I’ve never got round to it. Here’s what I’ll do. If anyone leaves a comment on this post, I promise to teach myself to juggle and post a picture of me doing so in one month’s time.

Any takers?

Image credit: ky_olsen.