I came across an interesting bit of information the other day! Did you know that juggling increases the gray matter in the brain? It does! For some reason the cells in the brain, while in the act of juggling, have increased production and cell communication! The area in the brain that juggling activates actually gives you a boost (cognitively speaking of course), in the parietal lobe.
People who juggle on a regular basis actually have bigger brains than those who do not. (I don’t juggle by the way, but my husband and son can do it!)
While gray matter houses our neurons (it does our thinking)…the white matter in our brains (bundled patches of long reaching fibers that carry messages / information / impulses from nerve cell to nerve cell) is responsible for coordinating all these (neurons) thoughts and the speed in which they are processed. One big difference between white and gray matter is myelin. Myelin is a like a protective sheath around the nerve fiber. It helps the impulse travel faster. Myelin builds over time and is formed through repetition. (i.e. You’ll remember your parent’s face because you see it over and over….but you have trouble remembering someone you just met. Also, the correlation between a teens behavior and their underdeveloped myelin could explain much about the frustration between parent and teen.)
Anyhow, a study was done where people learned to juggle. Their brains were studied during this time. The result was that the size of their brains actually increased in those who juggled on a regular basis! The amount of gray matter and white matter. The areas that increased were those that handle visual and motor activity and the mid-temporal area.
Not only that but four weeks after the experiment was over, the participants brain gray and white matter areas were still increased.
I think the most wonderful result of this little experiment may just be that what we once thought about the aging brain is no longer true! We can build new connections. We can improve our brains, our cognition, our thinking and the health of our brains! All we need to do is use it! Exercise it! And we can do this at any time in life. Young or old!