The Science of Thought
Imagination and action are intertwined as they engage the same neural pathways practicing one influence.
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For decades scientists thought the brain was static, locked, and unchanging. However, their thoughts about the brain have changed drastically, where now scientists see the brain as elastic and consistently evolving.
Thinking can change the way your brain works and its structure and physical shape from a neuroscientific standpoint. Imagining an action and doing it requires the same sensory and motor programs throughout the brain.
For example, if a person were to close their eyes and imagine the letter “d,” the primary visual cortex lights up the same way you light up the letter on a screen.
Take a second to imagine yourself writing your signature with the most dominant hand. The chances are that you thought of doing it are similar to how you write it out. Then, try doing the same thing with your non-dominant hand, and it most likely takes you longer to write out and imagine it.
Imagination and action are intertwined as they engage the same neuropathways practicing one influence.
One study took two groups and had them practice the piano for two hours a day, where one of the groups was only allowed to use mental practice. Meaning they could not touch the piano but could sit in front of it and imagine they were playing it.
Surprisingly the same physical changes took place in the motor cortex of both groups. Moreover, their piano playing abilities and accuracy were the same after three days.
Beyond five days, the physical practice group did begin to excel faster, but the imagination group could quickly catch up to the regular skill.
Thought of Imigantion
One study experimented with using imagination to strengthen muscles. They did the same finger exercises for four weeks, but one group did it mentally.
Those who did the physical exercise increased their strength by 30%, well those who imagined doing it increased their strength by 22%.
This is because the neurons responsible for movement were being used and strengthened. Resulting in increased strength when the muscles contracted.
Your thoughts don’t have some mysterious or magical power, and mental practice effectively builds physical skills. Each idea changes the structure and function of the brain by affecting the neurons at the microscopic thought level.
Though as much as we wish we could sit there and become the next Beethoven, it will not happen without a lot of hard physical work.
More thought and imagination never hurt.
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