The art of learning to learn

We all know practice makes perfect. But did you know that practice can also make your brain more adept at learning new things? This is suggested by a recent study published in the journal Nature Communications. Researchers have shown that the harder you try to learn skills, the better your brain learns.

The secret lies in brain plasticity, that is, the brain’s ability to reshape itself according to experience. Every time we learn something new, we create connections between neurons, the nerve cells that transmit information. The more numerous and solid these connections, the higher our memory and our intelligence.

But brain plasticity is not fixed. It can vary according to age, stress, sleep or diet. And it can also be influenced by practice. Researchers found that the more participants practiced a complex cognitive task, the more plastic their brains became. This means they were able to form new neural connections more easily and learn other tasks more quickly.

This phenomenon is explained by the fact that the practice stimulates the production of neurotrophic factors, molecules that promote the growth and survival of neurons. These factors increase the brain’s potential for future plasticity, making it more receptive to learning.

What are the implications of this discovery? First, it encourages us to adopt an attitude of growth, that is, to believe that we can always improve our abilities through effort and challenge. Then, it invites us to diversify our cognitive activities, to get out of our comfort zone and to explore new areas. Finally, it reminds us that learning is an art that is cultivated throughout life.

So, don’t hesitate to train yourself regularly in exercises that require your memory, your attention, your reasoning or your creativity. You will see that your brain will thank you!

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