“Our brains are bundles of wires—100 billion wires called neurons, connected to each other by synapses. Whenever you do something, your brain sends a signal through those chains of nerve fibers to your muscles… The simplest skill—say, a tennis backhand—involves a circuit made up of hundreds of thousands of fibers and synapses.”
– Dan Coyle, The Talent Code
Learning new skills—be it electrical troubleshooting or swinging a golf club—changes how our brain is wired on a deep level. If science has shown us anything, it’s that our brains are incredibly malleable. Although children can learn certain things like language more easily than adults, there is a lot of evidence that is proving adults are capable of great transformations in their neurocircuitry.
Performing any task means that various portions of our brain are activated. For example, to develop good troubleshooting methods, the brain coordinates a complex set of actions that include our motor function, visual and audio processing, verbal language skills and more. At first, the method may feel stiff and awkward, steps might be missed or forgotten, but as we practice, the method becomes more fluid and feels more natural and comfortable.
Through this practice, the brain is optimizing for this set of coordinated activities. This is a process called myelination. And in this process the brain is literally growing myelin to layer around its neural circuits.
Practice Makes Perfect Myelin
Myelin wraps and insulates neural circuits when circuits are fired in the right way—in other words, when in deep practice. Through practice, one can increase the precision and speed of the connection in neural circuits. The more one practices, the more myelin is produced and the more accurate the skill becomes. The skills begin to feel as natural as if born with it.
The bottom line is that practicing skills over time will cause neural pathways to work in unison via myelination. Frequent practice with intelligent feedback to practice correctly will enhance and improve performance.