The Scientific Power of Thought

 

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for years scientists believed that the
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brain was static unchanging and locked
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but our understanding has changed
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drastically to the point where we now
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see the brain is plastic and constantly
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changing but what if I told you that
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simply thinking could affect not only
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the way your brain works
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but its physical shape and structure as
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well it turns out this is exactly what
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happens from a neuroscientific
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standpoint imagining an action and doing
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it require the same motor and sensory
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programs in the brain for example if you
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were to close your eyes and imagine the
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letter B the primary visual cortex
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lights up in the same way it does when
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you look at the letter on the screen
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take a moment and imagine yourself
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writing out your signature with your
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dominant hand
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chances are the amount of time it takes
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you to simply imagine doing it is
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similar to how long it actually takes to
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write it out
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try doing the same thing with your
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non-dominant hand and it actually takes
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you longer to write and imagine how is
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this relevant
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well because imagination and action are
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actually integrated and engaged the same
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neural pathways practicing one actually
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influences the other one fascinating
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study took two groups and had them
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practice piano for two hours a day
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except one group was only allowed to use
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mental practice they couldn’t touch the
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piano but would sit in front of it and
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imagine practicing the surprising result
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the exact same physical changes took
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place in the motor cortex of both groups
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and after three days their accuracy and
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playing was the exact same beyond five
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days the physical practice group did
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begin to excel faster but the
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imagination group when given the chance
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to practice physically was able to catch
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up to their skill level quickly perhaps
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more incredible is an experiment which
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used imagination in an effort to
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strengthen muscles both groups did the
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same figure muscle exercises for four
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weeks the one group simply did it
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mentally those who actually did the
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physical exercise increase their
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strength by 30 percent while those who
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imagine doing it increased their muscle
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strength by 22% this is because the
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neurons responsible for the movement
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instruction were still being used and
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strengthened resulting in increased
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strength when the muscles actually
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contracted so while your thoughts don’t
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have some mystical or magical power
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mental practice is an effective way to
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prepare for a physical skill each
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thought actually changes the structure
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and function of your brain by affecting
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the neurons at the microscopic level
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though as much as we wish you could sit
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there and be
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the next Mozart it won’t happen without
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a lot of hard physical work but a little
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imagination never hurts this episode of
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ASAP science is supported by audible.com
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inspired by the book the brain that
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changes itself by Norman Doidge you can
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