MOVEMENT and THE LEARNING BRAIN:
Learning starts at the very beginning of life itself. Early on, the fetus, and later the infant, senses
a stimulus and its brain generates a command to the hand to touch, feel, grope, and manipulate an
object. This is the vehicle for learning processes of the brain, and this process that is studied in
laboratories and facilitated in clinics around the world has discovered that when the body moves,
BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor) is produced, which supports neuroplasticity and
facilitates brain connectivities. This process, in turn, supports information transfer capabilities
and more synaptic connections. This is actually what allows our brain to grow or expand our
capacity to think, create, and even recover from brain injury and trauma. The plasticity of the
brain, its flexibility, and its ability to create new and more efficient connections is what allows
our brains to reach advanced stages and higher levels of analysis, thinking, and understanding.
It turns out that our brain increases production of BDNF when we are in motion. If we sit
motionless and our brain is not busy with walking or running or activity, BDNF will be produced
at reduced levels (why? – a Nobel Prize is waiting for whoever discovers the nature of the
process…). It turns out that our brain, which was created to manage movement, needs movement
to facilitate cognitive abilities.
Our ability to maintain balance, walk, and move is directly related to cognition and vice versa.
Movement affects academic progress, effectiveness of rehabilitation, as well as neuroplasticity
and resilience. The conference focuses on movement-cognitive interaction in schools,
rehabilitation, global and personal health, aging, and in dance and as such, practical solutions to
difficult clinical and theoretical issues will have a platform for interaction, discussion, and novel
solutions to difficult problems.
It is with a fundamental understanding of the relation between brain, body and cognition in the
context of movement where we find a key to understanding the brain’s capacity to learn or
rehabilitate. We will examine processes that started somewhere at the dawn of evolution, leading
up to our impending conference in London. We will continue there. See you soon.