Build your neuroplasticity with juggling and boost your speed reading
Juggling builds neuroplasticity
A study on structural neuroplasticity suggests that adults who juggled three balls for three months (15-30min/day) increased gray matter (GM) in the mid-temporal area and left posterior intraparietal sulcus. 3 months of little or no juggling and the gray matter decreased and approached baseline values (Cassandra Sampaio-Baptista, et al, 2014; download the pdf of the paper). Juggling is a workout for your brain – a kind of brain gym.
Juggling helps with reading
Learning to track objects with your eyes improves your reading and ultimately speed reading. Juggling improves hand-eye coordination (so it’s useful for super-duper reading), peripheral vision (for the optimum state for speed reading) and a host of other motor skills and reflexes (Rosenberger, 2011).
Juggling is a bilateral exercise: brain gym
Juggling is a bilateral exercise like brain gym exercises which are good for waking up the brain, focusing and dopamine stimulation which is responsible for motivation.
Juggling builds multiple intelligences and self-esteem
Juggling exercises multiple intelligences and uses both sides of the brain. While you’re learning to juggle, you’re using the left side of the brain. When you’re juggling you’re using the right side and after a while, both sides of the brain are active. Kid’s self-esteem gets a boost from learning a new skill while they’re having fun.
It is also a good physical exercise – which this video suggests.
Gray matter volume is associated with rate of subsequent skill learning after a long term training intervention
The ability to predict learning performance from brain imaging data has implications for selecting individuals for training or rehabilitation interventions. Here, we used structural MRIto test whether baseline variations in gray matter (GM) volume correlated with subsequent performance after a long-term training of a complex whole-body task. 44 naïve participants were scanned before undertaking daily juggling practice for 6 weeks, following either a high intensity or a low intensity training regime. To assess performance across the training period participants’ practice sessions were filmed. Greater GM volume in medial occipito-parietal areas at baseline correlated with steeper learning slopes. We also tested whether practice time or performance outcomes modulated the degree of structural brain change detected between the baseline scan and additional scans performed immediately after training and following a further 4 weeks without training. Participants with better performance had higher increases in GM volume during the period following training (i.e., between scans 2 and 3) in dorsal parietal cortex and M1. When contrasting brain changes between the practice intensity groups, we did not find any straightforward effects of practice time though practice modulated the relationship between performance and GM volume change in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. These results suggest that practice time and performance modulate the degree of structural brain change evoked by long-term training regimes.
Short of juggling balls – try anything as your juggling balls
References on the science behind juggling
BBC News. “Juggling ‘can boost brain power.” Jan. 22, 2004. (Feb. 18, 2012)
Boyke, Janina; Driemeyer, Joenna; Gaser, Christian; Buchel, Christian; May, Arne. “Learning Induced Gray-Matter Plasticity.” The Journal of Neuroscience. July 2008. (Feb. 18, 2012)
Deveney, Jim. “Tossing Off a New Hobby.” The Washington Post. April 20, 1999. (Feb. 18, 2012)
Hamzelou, Jessica. “Learning to juggle grows brain networks for good.” New Scientist. Oct. 11, 2009. (Feb. 18, 2012)
Irvine, Dean. “The benefits of: Juggling.” CNN. May 24, 2007. (Feb. 18, 2012)
Kellett, Gregory. “Older People Learning Newer Tricks.” Luminosity Blog. Sept. 2, 2008. (Feb. 18, 2012)
National Geographic. “Brain, Brain Information, Facts, News, Photos.” (Feb. 18, 2012)
Rosenberger, Phillip. “Juggling Basics: Why and How To.” Grapto Logo. 2011
Scholz, Jan; Klein, Miriam; Behrens, Timothy. Johansen-Berg, Heidi. “Training induces changes in white-matter architecture.” Nature Neuroscience. Oct. 11, 2009. (Feb. 18, 2012)
Science News. “Juggling takes stage as brain modifier.” Gale Science in Context. Jan. 31, 2004. (Feb. 20, 2012)
Sun, Edna. “Can Juggling Improve Your Brain?” ABC News. Jan. 26, 2004. (Feb. 18, 2012)
University of Oxford. “Juggling Enhances Connections in the Brain.” Oct. 12, 2009. (Feb. 18, 2012)
“We tend to think of the brain as being static, or even beginning to degenerate, once we reach adulthood. In fact we find the structure of the brain is ripe for change. We’ve shown that it is possible for the brain to condition its own wiring system to operate more efficiently.”
Heidi Johansen-Berg of the Department of Clinical Neurology, University of Oxford