Practice Makes the Brain More Efficient

Practice Makes the Brain’s Motor Cortex More Efficient

Aug. 4, 2013 — Not only does practice make perfect, it also makes for more efficient generation of neuronal activity in the primary motor cortex, the area of the brain that plans and executes movement, according to researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The hand area of the primary motor cortex is known to be larger among professional pianists than in amateur ones. This observation has suggested that extensive practice and the development of expert performance induces changes in the primary motor cortex…

“This tells us that practicing a skilled movement and the development of expertise leads to more efficient generation of neuron activity in the primary motor cortex to produce the movement.

…our results indicate that practice changes the primary motor cortex so that it can become an important substrate for the storage of motor skills. Thus, the motor cortex is adaptable, or plastic.

 Read the entire article with links to the research on Science Daily at:

I recommend people find some kind of movement activity they enjoy; a movement art, martial art, dance form, ATM®, juggling – anything that is both physically engaging and requires you to pay attention to how you do what you do. This cultivation of attention skills matched with whole body movement is  essential to health and wellbeing throughout our lives. As we grow older it’s crucial that we keep this joy of learning alive.  –  Suzane

  Train your brain; move your body.

Learn something new, Practice regularly and Thrive!  


Frequently recommended Feldenkrais® ATM® Lessons

Links to Feldenkrais Method®  Awareness Through Movement® lessons that I frequently recommend:

Lori Malkoff videos offer gentle “starter” lessons to ease pain in the hips and low back:

Quickie five minute version of the pelvic clock lesson from lying on your back:

Lynette Reid offers these variations of the pelvic clock lesson on her deep site Kinesophics:

Frank Wildman’s book offers quick lessons that make a big difference, “The Busy Person’s Guide to Easier Movement” available on Scribd:

“Change Your Age” is the program that evolved from The Busy Person’s Guide. A fully fleshed out program:

I often recommend this lesson:

improving balance, lesson #26:

More about Frank Wildman on his site, The Feldenkrais Institute:

Jeff Haller

My teacher, Jeff Haller offers audio downloads of some lessons plus comprehensive DVD sets. “Plane Divides the Body” is very rich – lots to mine from this lesson. Jeff teaches it four different ways.

“Plane Divides the Body” lesson

Discovering the roots of Internal Strength  video set:

Alan Questel

Alan offers several audio sets on Balance, Falling, Reversibility, Getting Hips (hip joints).

Click the icon in the left hand column of this site to go to his “Uncommon Sensing” product page.

Tuesdays in April 5:30 – 6:00 pm

Aikido Basics is the theme

for Center Yourself Tuesdays in April.

  • Practice footwork patterns to reinforce center line and improve balance.
  • Bring yourself to the ground gently and rise again with fluidity.

Open to the public: $10 drop-in.

Free for members and “Aikido Starter Kit” participants.

Train your brain, move your body, center yourself

Find your Space To Move® at Multnomah Aikikai

Multnomah Aikikai is located at 6415 SW Macadam Ave, Portland OR 97239


Center Yourself Tuesdays ~ class in Portland Oregon

NOTE: Class resumes on January 15th. Happy New Year!

[Image followed by text:]

Center Yourself Tuesdays class in Portland

Center Yourself Tuesdays class in Portland:
Get out of the traffic
take off your shoes
feel the ground
clear your head
center yourselfEvery Tuesday, 5:30 – 6:00 pm,  $10, drop ins welcome.
Cash or cards accepted. [Class is free for regular Multnomah Aikikai members].Center your self, center your life

Find your Space To Move at Multnomah Aikikai

Multnomah Aikikai is located at 6415 SW Macadam Ave, Portland OR 97239

Scott Mc Credie ~ Balance The Lost Sense

For a long time people believed the structure of semi-circular canals had something to do with hearing. We now know they are integral to our sense of balance.

When some people refer to the “vestibular system,” they are referring specifically to this delicate structure of canals in the inner ear. Others would say these structures are part of the vestibular system but one must include the brain’s role in processing the information gathered by the inner ear structures. The whole circuit of gathering, routing and processing of information regarding one’s orientation to gravity comprises the vestibular system. What about the role of the eyes and the nerve connecting the eyes to ears? Certainly vision is part of the system that we use to sense balance, but the eyes are generally considered to work with the vestibular system rather than identified as components of it. What about proprioceptors? These receptors found in the tendons, associated with various joints (eg. ankles, ribs) are critical to the whole balance equation. The brain processes information from the proprioceptive or “somatosensory” system along with information from the eyes and inner ear structures to constantly update our orientation to gravity and re-calibrate our balance, moment by moment, step by step.

In Scott Mc Credie’s book Balance; In Search of the Lost Sense, Mc Credie mentions it was Aristotle that articulated the 5 senses we generally learned in childhood. Our sense of balance is sometimes referred to as our 6th sense ( see previous post on proprioception and Radio Lab segment “the Butcher’s Assistant). Mc Credie’s delightful book takes us through a bit of the history tracing vestibular science and our understanding of how human balance works. Why do artists of the high wire have such a refined sense of balance and how do they fare as they age? Read the chapter about Karl Wallenda. How did airline pilots shift from flying by their own eyes to reliance on navigation instrumentation? It’s a fascinating and enjoyable read.

I particularly enjoyed the chapter on Frank Belgau and the cognitive connection. That cerebellum you have not only moves you around but moves thoughts around. The work of Belgau  connects beautifully to some of the new brain science emerging – the building of myelin and our understanding of neuroplasticity.

I recommend the following links:

Scott Mc Credie:

Belgau balance board:

Belgau’s company:

Belgau videos on You Tube:


Embodying Neuroscience

Research Symposium Embodying Neuroscience

Scott Mc Credie radio interview (Live radio interview with David Inge, on WILL-AM, the University of Illinois’ NPR affiliate station, June 13, 2007:):

Balance; In Search of the Lost Sense, Copyright June 2007: Scott McCredie  Purchase Mc Credie’s book

HELPFUL RESOURCES & LINKS (from Mc Credie’s site)

** {NOTE The Frank Forensich link has changed to  and  }

See the Research page on this site for more information about balance.
Learn to improve your balance by taking lessons in human movement.
-Suzane Van Amburgh, Space To Move