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Neuroplasticity

Changes in grey matter induced by training

Newly honed juggling skills show up as a transient feature on a brain-imaging scan.

Abstract

Does the structure of an adult human brain alter in response to environmental demands1,2? Here we use whole-brain magnetic-resonance imaging to visualize learning-induced plasticity in the brains of volunteers who have learned to juggle. We find that these individuals show a transient and selective structural change in brain areas that are associated with the processing and storage of complex visual motion. This discovery of a stimulus-dependent alteration in the brain's macroscopic structure contradicts the traditionally held view that cortical plasticity is associated with functional rather than anatomical changes.

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Author information

Correspondence to Arne May.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Further reading

Figure 1: Transient changes in brain structure induced while learning to juggle.

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