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One example of experience-driven neuroplasticity was shown in a study comparing the brains of experienced London cabdrivers with those in training for the licensing exam required to become a taxi driver in London. The posterior hippocampus in the experienced, licensed drivers was much larger and their anterior hippocampus correspondingly smaller than was the case for those training to become cabdrivers, who had not yet learned to get around facilely in the medieval maze of London streets. It turns out that the posterior hippocampus plays a major role in spatial orientation. It seems as if it got physically bigger to “contain” the street map of London, and the related knowledge of all the roundabouts, one-way streets, and intricate traffic patterns. Just for fun, imagine if doing the body scan over and over again were to grow and reshape your somatosensory cortex and other associated regions of the brain in a similar way. With years of practice, we of course become intimately more in touch with the body, and the brain may very well be rearranging itself in response to such a daily discipline. Let’s not forget that your body is far more complex than the layout of London’s streets, that curiously, the cabdrivers call “the knowledge.”
See Goleman, D. and Davidson, R.J. Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body. Penguin Random House, New York, 2017.
See Chomsky, N. What Kind of Creatures Are We? Columbia University Press, New York, 2016 (Especially Chapter 2: “What Can We Understand?”)