On Action & Imagination: When You Move Differently, You Think Differently…*

“Because imagination and action are actually integrated and engage the same neural pathways, practicing one actually influences the other.”

A close friend of mine, who has trained as a dancer for most of her life, once told me: “when you move differently, you think differently.”  I was struck by the notion that physical movement and thought would be intertwined to such a degree as to be able to affect tangible changes on one another. But because my own dancing career ended rather abruptly– at the hands of a dreadful, retired ballerina, who never tired of repeating “Miss Fridman, you have the grace of an elephant”–I was forced to take my friend at her word. This short video on the scientific power of thought, brought to you by ASAP Science, reminded me of my friend’s pronouncement and brought some interesting scientific backing to her insight. At a neuroscientific level, it turns out that “imagination and action are actually integrated and engage the same neural pathways”. So that, “practicing one actually influences the other.” This relationship is so strong that mentally practicing an activity can yield tangible physical results comparable to those of  control groups assigned the physical practice of the skill. “So while your thoughts don’t have some mystical or magical power, mental practice is an effective way to prepare for a physical skill. Each thought actually changes the structure and function of your brain by affecting the neurons at the microscopic level.”

(ASAPScience on YouTube, published January 17, 2013)

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