Thinking and doing

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Arshile Gorky (Armenia / USA, 1904-1948)
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“The Emotional life of the brain” Richard Davidson:
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“My favorite example of how “mere” thought can change the brain in fundamental ways is an experiment I’ll call the virtual piano study.
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Scientists led by Alvaro Pascual-Leone, of Harvard University, had half a group of volunteers learn a simple five-finger keyboard piece, practicing over and over for a week with their right hand.
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They then thought can change the brain in fundamental ways is an experiment I’ll call the virtual piano study.
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They then used neuroimaging to determine how much of the motor cortex was responsible for moving those fingers, finding that the intense practice had expanded the relevant region.
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That was not too surprising, since other experiments had found that learning specific movements causes such an expansion.
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But the scientists had the other half of their group of volunteers only imagine playing the notes; they did not actually touch the ivories.
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Then the researchers measured whether the motor cortex had noticed.
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It had. The region that controls the fingers of the right hand had expanded in the virtual pianists just as it had in the volunteers who had actually played the piano.
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Thinking, and thinking alone, had increased the amount of space the motor cortex devoted to a specific function.”
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