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Brain exercise: how is this possible?

brain activity mappping These 3 pictures represent a simplified image of brain activity taken from right above our heads, with our forehead/ Frontal Lobes at the top of each image. Dark color indicates most activity, light color some activity. (Basic brain anatomy here).
The 3 images show the brain activity happening in 3 different moments in time when one person is doing exactly the same thing.Question: How is that possible? how come we don’t see the same activation patterns, even if we’re talking the same person doing the same thing?

Answer: the image to the left shows the person learning how to master the activity (juggling three balls). The image to the right shows the person once he has already mastered the activity – which explains why there is very little activation in the frontal lobes. This is why learning new things is so important is we are to truly exercise our brains. Doing more of the same is not enough.

Credit for image: The Wisdom Paradox: How Your Mind Can Grow Stronger As Your Brain Grows Older book.

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18 Responses

  1. Alvaro says:

    In short, the image to the left shows what happens when the person is encountering, doing, that activity for the first time. The middle one shows what happens when the person is internalizing the new skill/ knowledge, still in transition. The image to the right shows what happens when the person is doing exactly the same task as in the 2 other figures, but that task is already familiar, learned, not novel anymore.

    You can read a good overview online, by Dr. Sylwester, here:

    Some quotes:

    “Goldberg provides considerable research evidence to argue that the right hemisphere (in most humans) is organized principally to process novel challenges, and the left hemisphere familiar routines. For example we process strange faces principally in our right hemisphere, and familiar faces in the left. Musically naïve people process music principally in their right hemisphere, trained musicians in the left.”

    “He argues that although both hemispheres are active in processing most cognitive functions, the relative level of involvement shifts from the right to the left hemisphere over time, and with increased familiarity and competence. The exploratory right hemisphere is thus organized to rapidly and creatively respond to a novel challenge, but the more stable processing systems in the left hemisphere eventually transform the successful initial responses into an efficient established routine that we activate whenever the challenge (or something close to it) reoccurs.”

  2. Randy says:

    Does “activity” equal energy? Do our brains work the hardest when they are organizing new information?

  3. someone says:

    Yay I guessed right =D

  4. miss says:


  5. kapil says:

    initially when a person is given a work he will be thinking how to do that is first image, but when u analysed it it we will be putting our thouts and mind works in why not in different ways, an many possible ways, so mind has different faces that is second image and same work is given to the same person he will feeling not intrest in that and he does so for the sake of doing the work forcebly and he will not think more because he know it before how to do,and finally i want say one line taht is “mind has thousands of faces when we think in different ways” this is the proof of this, nice question

  6. bob friend says:

    the person could be sleeping.

  7. yoyoda says:

    I think the third image shows proof of the acquired talent, but it’s so easy now the dude is daydreaming? Hence the activity in the anterior…I dunno, I daydream all the time and now I have a big bump back there…har har.

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