Which mindset is "right?"
- The brain changes and develops throughout life – a process called neuroplasticity. Certain experiences cause new connections in the brain to form or strengthen, making the brain smarter by literally rewiring it.
- London taxi drivers have to give their brains a workout when they navigate the complicated streets of London. Research suggests this has an impact on the brain. The part of the brain responsible for spatial awareness is bigger in taxi drivers compared to other Londoners. And the longer a person has been a taxi driver, the bigger that part of the brain.
Male Voice: As scientists learn more and more about the brain, they are discovering that it changes and develops throughout life, a process called neural plasticity. The cells in the brain, called neurons, are each connected to thousands of other neurons. The strength, number, and location of these connections affect how the brain works. These connections change all the time, as the result of our experiences. Certain of our experiences cause new connections to form or strengthen, making the brain smarter by literally rewiring it.
For example, a study on London taxi drivers showed that working hard on something challenging can cause anatomical changes in the brain. Anyone who wants to be a taxi driver in London has to spend years studying the thousands of winding irregular streets of the city. Because they give their brains such a work-out learning this, scientists thought that the part of the brain responsible for spatial memory, the hippocampus, might be larger in taxi drivers compared to other Londoners, and that's exactly what they found. On top of that, the longer a person had been a taxi driver, the bigger their hippocampus had grown.
Female Voice: When you really think about it, the fact that our brains change in response to our actions shouldn't be so surprising. After all, our bodies are in general quite good at adapting to the demands that we place on them. In the same way that our muscles get stronger when we push their capacities, so too do our brains get smarter when we push their capacities. Children who understand that the brain can get smarter, kids who have developed a growth mindset, do better in school because they have an empowering perspective on learning. They focus on improvement and see effort as a way to build those abilities.