“Practise makes perfect.” I don’t know about you, but I heard those words many times as I was growing up. I remember saying them to my own children, and to the young nurses I worked with when I was an educator – and repeating them to myself throughout my growing up years – and even now, as I try to learn something new.
When we repeat an activity, when we practice over and over, we strengthen neural circuitry in the brain. If you’ve heard the brain referred to as a muscle, you’ve probably also heard the saying that “practice is like doing a push-up for the mind.” There’s a great video from Ted Ed that explores what actually happens in the brain when we practice, practice, practice to develop a skill.
Myelin is a fatty substance in the white matter of the brain – in fact it gives the white matter its whitish appearance. It’s like a sheath that protects nerve fibres, prevents energy loss and helps information move along neural pathways. In fact the more myelin there is the more rapid and effective the transfer of information. It's the repetition of an activity that causes the thickening of the myelin sheath.
I encourage you to watch the video.
To get the best out of your practice time (whatever you are practising) try the following:
3. Use your imagination. Studies suggest that once we have practiced something enough that action can be strengthened through imagination.