Excuse us while we do some spring cleaning around here and publish a few entries that have been sitting in our “draft” pile longer than I care to admit…

In a bit of research done in 2000, Eleanor Maguire and her colleagues researched taxi drivers’ brains using structural magnetic resonance imaging scans (MRIs). They discovered that the longer a taxi driver had been driving, the larger a specific part of the brain (the part that we believe stores spatial representations of our environment):

These data are in accordance with the idea that the posterior hippocampus stores a spatial representation of the environment and can expand regionally to accommodate elaboration of this representation in people with a high dependence on navigational skills. It seems that there is a capacity for local plastic change in the structure of the healthy adult human brain in response to environmental demands.

Note the researchers are suggesting that their evidence shows that people can literally change the very structure of their brain. Amazing.

What does this mean to you?

It means that you can actually affect your brain structure without drugs or any strange or life-altering treatments. Simply by doing something repetitively, or doing something differently, can affect a change — not only in your life, but in your actual brain’s structure. This perhaps helps explain why oftentimes psychotherapy works just as well (or even better) than drugs on mental disorders. It helps you think and act in ways differently than you have, perhaps resulting in direct biochemical and structural changes in your brain functioning (eventually).

Hat tip: Mind Hacks