Friday, September 12, 2008

Watching practice change the brain cortex.

Our brain cortex is changed by different kinds of learning. These include factual knowledge that is recalled by a purposeful effort and requires the involvement of the explicit memory system (This system is involved in tasks such as spatial navigation and intensive studying). Changes also result from training implicit memory, which refers to intrinsic knowledge about how to perform an action and includes language learning, juggling, mirror reading, and musical training. Duerden and Laverdure-Dupont do a meta-analysis of six morphometric studies that have demonstrated both short- and long-term use-dependent changes caused by these different types of learning. Although structural changes are commonly found in brain regions known to be functionally involved in the particular skill under study, a meta-analytic review of these studies revealed that additional changes often occurred in associative regions including parietal and temporal cortices. studies examining explicit learning showed an overlap of increased gray matter density in the hippocampal gyrus.

Figure - Meta-analysis of voxel-based morphometric studies reporting increased gray matter density after learning in the cortex and cerebellum.

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