Your Brain is Plastic
Neuroplasticity is the hot new topic in neuroscience. Many recent studies using the new MRI scanners have shown that the human brain is plastic, that it reacts to new stimuli by building new neural pathways. A good way to think of plasticity is to consider modeling clay. When a coin is pressed into the clay it leaves an imprint. When a thought occurs in a human brain it also leaves an imprint. After a while a barrage of similar thoughts leaves a lasting imprint.
London taxi drivers need to pass a special test before they can drive one of the city's famous black cabs. This test is called The Knowledge.
All-London drivers have to learn some 400 routes. They also need to know all the landmarks and places of interest along the routes. It takes between two and four years to pass the All-London Knowledge.
Taxi drivers given brain scans by scientists at University College London had a larger hippocampus compared with other people. This is a part of the brain associated with navigation. The scientists also found part of the hippocampus grew larger as the taxi drivers spent more time in the job.
"There seems to be a definite relationship between the navigating they do as a taxi driver and the brain changes," said Dr Eleanor Maguire, who led the research team.
She said: "The hippocampus has changed its structure to accommodate their huge amount of navigating experience."
The same thing is true of violinists; that part of the brain used by the fingering hand grows larger.
It is the same with driving a car. At first you must think about each move, and your driving is clumsy. After you have been driving for some time, however, you can drive home from work and think about what you will have for dinner. Driving has become automatic because the neural paths that relate to driving have been imprinted into your brain.
Research shows that the brain of any expert, such as a chess player, a taxi driver, a musician or a Tibetan monk is functionally and structurally different from that of a non-expert.
My research with Cecil Field, published over thirty years ago, was one of the first studies to indicate neuroplasticity. [1] Before that most psychologists believed the IQ Myth, that IQ is fixed at birth and immutable. Now neuroscience is pointing in new directions and this is a very exciting time in neuroscience, the science of the brain.
Generally to be a world class scholar, chess player, golfer, anything, you need to start young. People that are older can develop or improve skills, but they will never quite regain the mental dexterity of their childhood. Part of the reason for that, as neuro science tells us, is that young children have about twice as many synapse connections between the neurons of the brain than adults. This allows for a wide range of possibilities for information transfer in children.

Connections that are unused eventually atrophy, degrading the ability to learn or master skills later in life. However all is not lost. Adults can still learn complex things, as thousands of graduate students do.

The following commentary by Oliver Sacks is encouraging for those who might be described as of mature age:

Neuroplasticity — the brain’s capacity to create new pathways — is a crucial part of recovery for anyone who loses a sense or a cognitive or motor ability. But it can also be part of everyday life for all of us. While it is often true that learning is easier in childhood, neuroscientists now know that the brain does not stop growing, even in our later years. Every time we practice an old skill or learn a new one, existing neural connections are strengthened and, over time, neurons create more connections to other neurons. Even new nerve cells can be generated.
I have had many reports from ordinary people who take up a new sport or a musical instrument in their 50s or 60s, and not only become quite proficient, but derive great joy from doing so. Eliza Bussey, a journalist in her mid-50s who now studies harp at the Peabody conservatory in Baltimore, could not read a note of music a few years ago. In a letter to me, she wrote about what it was like learning to play Handel’s “Passacaille”: “I have felt, for example, my brain and fingers trying to connect, to form new synapses. ... I know that my brain has dramatically changed.” Ms. Bussey is no doubt right: her brain has changed. [2]
Many people simply feel that they are too old to learn or start anything new, often when they are quite young, say 40 years old. But take the case of British sprinter Fauja Singh, who took up running when he was 89 years old, after deciding against sky diving, and holds a number of world sprint records for his age group. Mr Singh became the world's oldest marathon runner in 2011 after finishing the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in eight hours, 25 minutes and 16 seconds. Mr. Singh is 100 years old.
And Meadowlark Lemon is still playing professional basketball at age 80 though probably not quite as well as when he was the clown prince of the Harlem Globetrotters. Clint Eastwood is still making excellent films in his seventies. Nobody has to have to give up on life just because they are old.
We know that unlike adults, young children are in a dominant Alpha or Theta brainwave state much of the time and that these states are conducive to learning. Adults do not as often enter Alpha states and rarely enter Theta except when falling asleep. This is why we often come up with innovative ideas when falling asleep, and then forget them!

However with brainwave entrainment adults can become like children again, with boosted learning power. With brainwave entrainment adults too can be helped to learn more easily. Brainwave entrainment can help your brain regain the access to Alpha and Theta that it had in childhood.

Play an appropriate brainwave entrainment soundtrack while you study and you will learn more effectively. It is that easy, sit reading and play a learning brainwave track and you will learn better, you will be more focused and retain more information and knowledge.

The human brain is an instrument with enormous power and brainwave entrainment can help harness this power to help anyone achieve their educational goals.

1. Petty MF, Field CJ (1980), Fluctuations in mental test scores, Educational. Research, 22(3), pp. 198-202

2. Oliver Sacks, New York Times, Published: December 31, 2010

Author's Bio: 

Dr. MICHAEL PETTY is an authority on accelerated learning, IQ, Neuro Science and brainwave entrainment. He has a BA from Durham UK, an MA from Calgary and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He was a Canada Council Doctoral Fellow and his 1980 research on change in IQ scores, published in the British Journal Educational Research is still cited in Psychological texts. His latest book is Michael Petty, IQ Unlimited, Amazon Kindle. Visit Dr Petty’s website at