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By: Lindsay Taylor, MSH

Remember when you wanted to go on a road trip before GPS technology was invented and had to pull out the road map to navigate from point A to point B? Like road mapping, taking us from point A to point B, our brain maps but in a much more complex manner and when there are “road blocks,” the brain can even reorganize and find new routes to overcome “road blocks” in the brain. A series of studies have begun to show the incredible ability of the injured and uninjured mind to reorganize, change and adapt also known as a process termed “plasticity” and now, juggling, what has once been considered as a circus act or party trick can be used for neuroplasticity.

German researcher studied a group of 24 people and half of the group practiced juggling for three months. There were after effects that acquiring new skills will have to the brain and just after three months, the group that learned and practiced juggling showed changes in their MRI when compared to their baseline MRI. Those who trained to juggle showed a significant increase in gray matter in two areas linked to visual and motor activity. Dr. Arne May, assistant professor of neurology at the University of Regensburg in Germany and head researcher of the current study explains that the brain in simply like a muscle you need to exercise and the idea of “use it or lose it” is shown after three months of not practicing juggling and the group that once learned to juggle and increased the size of their gray matter, lost their gained brain power and the enhanced regions of the brain that were once increased, decreased in size. Her study also proves that disease like stroke, trauma and neurological disorders that result in a loss of gray matter could one day be prevented or reversed with regular activity and motor skills that affect the gray matter in the brain. Other studies have determined juggling could alter the structure of motion detection areas in the brain within as little as seven days.

More research is needed but the scientific evidence published clearly shows positive effects in the brain when learning to juggle. Go ahead, grab a tennis ball and begin increasing your brain power today!

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on October 21, 2018

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