Learning is a way of life. For context, the human brain’s unconscious processing abilities are estimated at an astounding 11 million pieces of information per second. That’s a lot of new thoughts being processed.
But, have you ever considered the impact of learning on your memory? How do we store all of this new information and train our brains to increase their capacity?
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to adapt to changes in an individual’s environment by forming new neural connections over time. Aspects of our brains are “plastic,” meaning they are adaptive and can be altered in response to environmental or structural changes. This explains how the human brain can adapt, master new skills and store memories and information.
The part of the brain linked to learning and memory lights up when exposed to new stimuli. You experience a rush of dopamine which motivates you to follow through with the new thing. In short, learning stimulates the brain's happiness chemicals and is fundamentally positive for your mental health.
Let’s take learning a new language as an example. Studies show that learning a new language increases the volume and density of grey matter in the brain, white matter and brain connectivity. Language learning engages several different parts of the brain and boosts the connectivity between these other areas. In turn, this improved connectivity results in higher mental function.
Other benefits of learning include:
Keeping your brain active through learning something new continues to improve your brain’s speed and ability to process, so it’s essential to keep up on new skills. Try exploring these ideas the next time you have some downtime.
The critical thing to remember is to choose something that is a bit challenging for you so that you can regularly practice improving your cognitive skills.