Kirsti: As I trod the boards (and concrete) of the shearing shed last week, all the while wondering about breeding good wool and hardy sheep, I was doing my jobs *almost* automatically. After the first 2 hour session of catching bellies, sorting brown and white wool, binning wigs, throwing fleeces and sweeping the board, I had made some new brain pathways! Yay!
The next sessions became easier as I continued these same actions. I improved, and should I throw fleeces again in the next few months, I dare say I will be able to get back into a good rhythm relatively quickly.
Repetition rapidly reinforces specific neural pathways. Practice really does make perfect. Mums and Dads all over the world may not realise they are teaching a little bit of neuroscience every time they utter those famed words! Repeating language, movements, processes and tasks cements the maps in your brain associated with each of those activities. The neural pathways are strengthened and, as well as becoming a more robust pathway for your brain to use, they become less likely to shrink to uselessness. Moreover, the amazing part is that we can deliberately strengthen beneficial neural pathways, and attempt to shrink others by simply thinking particular ways.
I am convinced that the perfect fleece throws I visualised in the shed were responsible for my perfect performance *cough cough*!
If you’re interested in the phenomenon of neuroplasticity – or shaping the brain through experience – make sure you read The Brain that Changes Itself. And parents, get yourselves a copy of What’s Going on in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years. My recommended reading for this week!