You’ve no doubt heard a lot about learning activities that “rewire your brain.” But does learning really change the physical structure of your brain?

Yes, according to one recent study.

Researchers studied the brains of London cab drivers – who must pass a comprehensive exam of London’s 25,000 streets as well as numerous “points of interest.”

The researchers conducted a longitudinal study of these candidates as they began the licensing training program (which usually takes 3-4 years).

They found two things:

  • Taxi drivers who passed the exam had a larger section of their brains related to spatial memory than when they started.
  • Retired London cab drivers’ brains reverted to normal.

Conclusion: Use it or lose it. Training does “rewire” the brain. But the changes aren’t permanent unless the learning is reinforced.

Source: Woollett, K., et al., “Acquiring ‘the Knowledge’ of London’s Layout Drives Structural Brain Changes,”

photo credit: jtbarrett

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