Essential Question: Does the structure of an adult human brain alter in response to environmental demands ?
AIM & RESEARCH METHOD
Research method: Lab Experiment IV=learnt juggling or not DV=structural changes in the brain
-Mean age: 22 -Divided into 2 groups: 1. Jugglers 2. Non-jugglers -Both groups were inexperienced at juggling at time of first brain scan
Half of the participants learnt a 60 second juggling routine over 3 months. MRI scans were taken before the training, straight after the training and then 3 months later with no practising during in this time.
-Used voxel-based morphometry to investigate subtle, region-specific changes in grey and white matter by averaging results across the volunteers.
a sophisticated objective whole-brain technique
There were no significant differences between the groups at the first scan. There was a large difference in the second scan. The jugglers had an increase in volume of two areas of the brain. In the third scan the difference was smaller.
These findings were specific to the jugglers, since the non-jugglers showed no change in grey matter over the same period.
It was concluded that juggling, or the perception and spatial anticipation of moving objects, is a stronger stimulus for structural plasticity in visual areas than in motor areas. In other words, the areas of the brain which had increased in size were associated with the retention of visually detected movement information rather than physical co-ordination.
This discovery contradicts the traditionally held view that the adult human brain does not alter except for changes in morphology caused by ageing or pathological conditions.
Visual: used for the retention of visual- motion information Motor: involved in the planning and execution of coordinate motion