How the Brain Rewires Itself

How the Brain Rewires Itself

How the Brain Rewires Itself is about an experiment by the Harvard Medical School which featured in Time Magazine. It involved volunteers learning and practising a short 5-finger piano exercise for a period of 2-hours per day for a total period of 5-days.  At the end of each day they had to sit beneath a coil of wire that sent a brief magnetic pulse into the motor cortex of their brain, located in a strip running from the crown of the head toward each ear. This transcranial-magnetic-stimulation (TMS) test allowed scientists to infer the function of neurons just beneath the coil.

In the piano players, the TMS mapped how much of the motor cortex controlled the finger movements needed for the piano exercise. What the scientists found was that after a week of practice, the stretch of motor cortex devoted to these finger movements took over surrounding areas like dandelions on a suburban lawn. It is thanks to experiments like this one that it is now known that the brain is not hardwired as was thought in the past. Instead it has been revealed that the brain is adaptable.

The full article can be read here: The Brain: How the Brain Rewires Itself.

Curated by Liz McCaughey


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