We know that the brain is in charge of learning new things, but is learning really good for the brain?
In this article, we take a look at why learning is good for the brain and what happens to our brains when we learn something new.
Here’s Why Learning is Good for the Brain
People don’t often realize that we learn something new every day, so we tend to take that knowledge for granted. However, learning is very good for the brain for both physical and psychological reasons.
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On the physical side, learning a new skill and practicing it repeatedly allows us to improve our performance on specific tasks.
Learning also stimulates our neurons, thereby allowing neural pathways to send signals to our brain faster. This can also make us less prone to suffering from neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.
On the psychological side, learning lets us acquire new mindsets.
It opens us up to various thought processes that can help us make better decisions or solve problems more efficiently. Through learning, we can also process information better and separate fact from fiction.
These are just some of the reasons why learning can be good for the brain. Keep in mind that the brain is a muscle, and not being able to exercise it makes it prone to atrophying.
At the same time, using the brain to constantly learn new things gives it “muscle memory” that makes it function better and faster.
Why Is Learning Important for the Brain?
You can gain numerous psychological benefits from learning. Here are just some of the advantages you can enjoy from learning new things:
- Improve your brain function: Because your brain is a muscle, using it to learn is the same as exercising it. When you do, you improve the health of your brain. When you make your brain “sweat,” you help it build new cells and strengthen the connection between existing ones.
When you improve your brain function, you can concentrate more, recall things faster, and pay attention to details better. Other cognitive functions will also improve, such as your problem-solving capabilities.
- Feel confident about your new skill: Learning a new skill and practicing it regularly will allow you to be adept at that particular skill. When you master that skill, you can gain confidence, which also positively contributes to your mental health.
- Meet new people: Learning doesn’t just let you get acquainted with new skills or concepts. It also lets you meet new people and make meaningful connections. This stimulates the part of your brain that handles your social skills, which can positively affect both your mental and emotional health.
How Does Learning Affect the Brain?
Learning affects the brain in three ways:
- The brain’s physical structure changes.
- When these physical changes take place, the brain is organized and reorganized while learning.
- Different parts of the brain are stimulated depending on what we’re learning.
What Happens in the Brain When We Learn Something New?
Think of the brain as a house that constantly expands with new knowledge. When you learn something new, you add new furniture to that house. On the other hand, existing items represent existing knowledge. The rooms in your house represent the different parts of your brain.
When you learn something new, the furniture inside your “brain rooms” gets arranged and rearranged. Instead of cramming all this furniture inside, your house expands and makes space, allowing you to add in more furniture or, in this case, knowledge. Sometimes, some furniture can occupy more than one room or more than one part of your brain.
Additionally, new knowledge makes use of all the different rooms in your house. This is because various parts of your brain are stimulated as you learn. Some furniture can be grouped in one room while other items belong in another.
Occasionally, knowledge can occupy more than one “brain room.”
Moreover, when you learn something new, you aren’t totally beginning from nothing. Whatever you learn, you reference it and connect it with other knowledge you’re already acquainted with.
Does Learning Grow Your Brain?
Learning certainly grows your brain.
Just like any other muscle in your body, the brain grows with exercise. Learning is how you get that exercise.
Now that we know more about how learning affects the brain, let’s consider how we can give our brains a great workout.
An excellent strategy is to make learning a hobby. This might sound a bit boring if you think of learning as only something that happens in a school-like setting, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Check out our article on this topic here, which discusses some great brain training hobbies you can get into!
Some people also tend to think that learning is something you are either good at or not good at. The truth is that while some people are naturally good at grasping new concepts or ideas or memorizing information, learning is a skill that can be improved.
You don’t have to have been someone who was top of their class to succeed in learning. Learning is a skill that can be worked on, and therefore improved! Don’t be discouraged if things don’t come to you naturally.
A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste
When we learn something new, we keep our brains from deteriorating. Being more conscious about acquiring new knowledge can help your brain grow and function in the best way it can.
Learn new things every day so you can keep your brain healthy even after you’ve passed your prime.