How does our mind work?

As human beings, we have an impressive machinery in our brains that allows us to develop skills through training and practice.


Mastering any skill requires practice. Practice is the repetition of an action with the aim of improving, and helps us to perform it with more ease, speed and confidence. But how does the mechanism work in our brains?


The brain is a complex organ that is dynamic, flexible, efficient and adaptable to changes in the environment. This capacity is called synaptic plasticity and refers to the ability of our brains to change their structural and functional organization in the presence of different stimuli, such as the information we acquire to learn something (1).


Neurons are one of the types of cells in the nervous system that connect with other cells called synapses, building functional circuits where they represent each other through their activation behaviors, emotions, thoughts, etc. When we learn something new, our neurons build circuits in specific areas of the cerebral cortex, however, to maintain these circuits they need to be reinforced. So how does practice or repetition affect the inner workings of our brains?


When we learn something, at the beginning, we build a circuit, however, the connections are weak and to maintain this knowledge it is fundamental to strengthen the connections. Practice allows these connections to establish and change their properties as well as to build new connections and maintain them in the long term.


A famous study looked at the effect of practice on the brains of London cab drivers preparing for the difficult London geography exam known as "Knowledge of London". They found that the posterior part of the hippocampus (an area especially important for spatial memory) was enlarged in these drivers compared to a bus driver (2).


There are many theories that attempt to quantify the number of hours, days and even years of practice it takes to master a skill and strengthen our neural circuits. While we don't yet have a magic number, we know that mastery is not simply about the number of hours of practice. It is also the quality and effectiveness of that practice. Effective practice is consistent, intensely focused and addresses the content or weaknesses that are at the edge of one's current abilities.


So, learning a new skill may be difficult at first, but the more we do something, the stronger the neural pathways associated with that skill become and the easier the task becomes. If we practice our actions, they become automatic and unconscious - our brains are amazing!


Want to be a better salesperson and communicator? Well, it's time to PRACTICE.


If you have the best tools to practice, your learning process will be easier. RolPlay gives you the tools to practice your communication skills.


More information:

  1. Citri A, Malenka RC. Synaptic Plasticity: Multiple Forms, Functions, and Mechanisms. Neuropsychopharmacol Rev [Internet]. 2008 [cited 2020 Feb 19];33:18-41. Available from:
  2. Maguire EA, Woollett K, Spiers HJ. London Taxi Drivers and Bus Drivers: A Structural MRI and Neuropsychological Analysis. [cited 2020 Jun 16]; Available from: www.interscience.
  3. Retieved from (16/06/20) :