Lara Boyd: Neuroplasticity (Dec. 2015)

After watching this, your brain will not be the same
Lara Boyd
TEDxVancouver at Rogers Arena on November 14, 2015


All of our behaviors change our brain

brain changes to support learning:
1. Chemical changes. The brain changes the concentration of chemicals, supporting short-term memory
2. The brain alters its structure, it alters the connections betwen neurons, supporting long-term memory. It takes time. What we see in the short term does not reflect learning.
Integrated networks of brain regions. People who read Braille have larger hand sensory areas in the brain.
3. Altering its function. As we use a brain region, it becomes more and more excitable and easy to use again.

The best driver of neuroplastic change in your brain is your behavior.
The problem: the dose of behavior, the dose of practice required to learn new skills is very large.

Therapies that prime the brain to learn:
– exercise
– brain stimulation
– robotics

Nothing is more effective than practice in helping you learn.
So there is no neuroplasticity drug you can take.
Increased difficulty, increased struggle during practice leads to more learning and greater structural change in the brain.

Why do kids sometimes fail at school?
There is no one-size fits all approach to learning; there is no recipe for learning.



Deliberate Practice and Performance (2014)

Deliberate Practice and Performance in Music, Games, Sports, Education, and Professions
A Meta-Analysis
Psychological Science August 2014   vol. 25  no. 8  1608-1618
Brooke N. Macnamara
David Z. Hambrick
Frederick L. Oswald

More than 20 years ago, researchers proposed that individual differences in performance in such domains as music, sports, and games largely reflect individual differences in amount of deliberate practice, which was defined as engagement in structured activities created specifically to improve performance in a domain. This view is a frequent topic of popular-science writing—but is it supported by empirical evidence?
To answer this question, we conducted a meta-analysis covering all major domains in which deliberate practice has been investigated.
We found that deliberate practice explained 26% of the variance in performance for games, 21% for music, 18% for sports, 4% for education, and less than 1% for professions. We conclude that deliberate practice is important, but not as important as has been argued.


  • deliberate practice
  • talent development
  • meta-analysis
  • human performance
  • skill acquisition
  • expertise
  • open data

Can 10,000 hours of practice make you an expert?
1 March 2014

10,000 hours to perfection

2DG uptake maps of the motor cortex

10,000 hours to perfection
Chris Miall
Nature Neuroscience 16, 1168–1169 (2013)

It is widely accepted that expertise takes practice—hence the ‘10,000-hour rule’ that intense practice for up to 10 years distinguishes expert performers from the merely good.

But what is the neural consequence of such extended practice in a particular domain?

How are knowledge that is learned and skills that are gradually refined reflected in neural activity?