Why Learning is good for Our Brains

Written by Kevin Liew on 10 Dec 2014
51,757 Views • Miscellaneous

Learning is a life-long process. You continue to learn new things on a daily basis through your experiences and what is happening in the world around you.

Learning is more than a natural process, it is actually good for your brain and this has potential health benefits. Here we take a look at how learning different activities benefits the brain.

Strengthening brain cells

A study focusing on how brain cells work together showed that when people learn new activities, the cells form new patterns. When this happened, the brain cells were strengthened. The research showed that the cells formed clusters for each new task studied and that repetition when learning the tasks improved studying. This supports other evidence that suggest that repeated practise will reinforce learning. Understanding this process may help scientists to find out more about the effects of learning on the brain.

Learning a new language

How studying a second or third language affects the brain is a topic of fascination to scientists. Swedish scientists were interested in learning about the physical effects that studying a new language has on the brain. They used MRI scans to study the brains of a group of people learning a language and compared these images with those of a control group who did not speak a second language. Their findings revealed that areas of the brain responsible for language actually grew in those who were currently studying a language, while the brains of the control group showed no change.

It is never too late to learn a new language to increase the size of your brain and, thanks to the technological age that we are all living in, you are no longer restricted to studying conventional languages either. Computer languages such as HTML and Java will also have a similar effect. If you do not have any classes locally, then you can always take an online Microsoft course to learn new skills.

Playing an instrument

When you play an instrument, nearly all of the regions of the brain are used. The sections of the brain which are most important when playing an instrument are the parts that are responsible for motor skills, reception of auditory information and processing visual information. The benefits to the brain include improved memory, greater attention to detail, better planning and better strategic planning. Although most people first learn a new instrument while they are at school, there is no age limit for enjoying music. If there is an instrument that you have always wanted to learn, consider taking classes or teach yourself at home with the aid of books and the Internet. Aside from the benefits for your brain, this is a really fun skill to learn that will give you lots of enjoyment in the future.

Other benefits

Many studies have shown that continuing to learn new skills in adulthood can improve memory and cognitive functioning. A Canadian study also suggests that multilingual and bilingual people are less likely to be diagnosed with debilitating illnesses such as Alzheimer's and dementia. Some studies even suggest that people who continue to learn new skills are likely to live longer. According to the CDC's National Centre for Health Statistics, those with a Bachelor's Degree are likely to live on average nine years longer than people with lesser qualifications.

Taking all the evidence into consideration, it seems that continuing to learn new tasks and skills in adulthood has many benefits. Learning an instrument or a second language are fun activities that could potentially benefit your health in the future.

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