How Your Body Affects Your Brain

Tonight on Brain Games, host Jason Silva dives into the connection between mind and body. He describes them as “frenemies,” essential to the other’s success, but capable of fighting like the fiercest of enemies. Physiology and psychology are connected in mysterious ways, and tonight’s Brain Games explores the secrets behind mind/body coordination.

Often, your mind works to strengthen your body, making subconscious adjustments to help processes run more smoothly. Studies have found that certain physical activities when repeated over time stimulate brain activity. For example, Harvard University researchers discovered that regularly playing the piano over a five-day period stimulated the motor cortex, the area of the brain that controls movement, making the process of playing the instrument easier. On the flip side, other physical activity can stimulate the brain; a 2013 study in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found that subjects who rode bikes four times per week showed improved divergent and convergent thinking, two mental processes that stimulate creativity.

However, not every brain and body function play well together. To work properly, the brain relies on shortcuts to handle the sensory data it constantly has to process. These shortcuts make certain tasks nearly impossible, like forcing your hands to make opposite shapes simultaneously. These unfamiliar tasks trigger a process called bimanual interference, where it opts not to do the tasks it’s not used to performing. As a result, typing on a keyboard or playing a guitar take many hours of practice to acclimate the brain to the repetitive hand motions.

Want to learn more about the tenuous relationship between body and mind? Catch an all-new Brain Games tonight at 9P.