Tuesday, August 6, 2013

For the brain, practice makes efficiency, not perfection

Brain does more with less energy when repeating well-practiced routines.


Once the monkey memorizes how to type Shakespeare, it can repeat the process more efficiently.

The brain isn't a static piece of hardware like a computer. If it needs to do something repeatedly, it's able to remodel itself in order to cope with the cognitive demands. Past studies have indicated London cab drivers see an expansion of the area of the brain that's involved in spatial reasoning, while professional musicians see an expansion of the area of the brain that provides control over their muscle actions.

Normally, more neural hardware means a higher energetic cost, as cells require a certain amount of energy purely for maintenance (even more when they are active). But a study that tracked the control of limb movements in monkeys suggests that the brain actually executes control over well-practiced movements with increased efficiency, burning through fewer calories in the process.
For the rest of the story: http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/08/for-the-brain-practice-makes-efficiency-not-perfection/

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