Do Clowns Have Bigger Brains?
In a recent study, people who learned to juggle grew bigger brains.
And if you think we're clowning around, we're not.
German researchers took 24 non-jugglers and divided them into two groups. One group was asked to do nothing; the other group was asked to practice juggling for three months. The researchers took brain scans of both groups before and after the three month experiment. What they discovered was that the dozen people who had learned how to juggle had grown more brain!
The extra brain cells were in the areas of the brain responsible for visual processing and motor skills (which makes sense when you think about the hand-eye coordination necessary for juggling).
The researchers were scanning for brain volume, rather than brain activity. As a result, while they can see that the new jugglers grew more brain cells, they don't know the purpose of the increase. At least not yet. They're still looking into the neural connections and brain activity related to those new cells.
The other interesting development was that, when the new jugglers stopped practicing for three months, the bigger parts of their brains decreased in size. In other words, when it comes to your brain, you snooze, you lose. To get the most out of your brain, you gotta keep using it.
So the next time you go to the circus and see a clown wearing a big hat, you'll know why. With a bigger brain, he probably needs the extra space.