Watching Activity Videos before Performing the Task May Help Enhance Brain Power, Study

First Posted: Feb 19, 2014 06:04 AM EST

Watching videos of simple tasks before executing them helps in improving motor skills, according to a new study.

The study, presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, April 26 to May 3, 2014, claims that viewing activity videos before a task helps in boosting the brain's structure or plasticity and increases the motor skills.

The ability of the brain to adapt and flex for better learning is defined as brain plasticity. As a person's age increases, plasticity of the brain decreases.

To highlights the benefits of viewing activity videos, the researchers conducted a study on 36 right-handed healthy adults. They were involved in a 40-minute training session five times a week.. This session was conducted for two weeks. Among the 36 students, half of them were made to watch videos of a specific task. The videos contained simple tasks such as writing with a pen, managing coins etc. After showing the videos to the subjects, the researchers asked them to complete the same task themselves.

The rest half of the subjects were shown videos of landscapes after which they were asked to perform the same tasks.

At the beginning of the study and two weeks after the study, the subjects from both the groups were tested on their strength and hand skills. Apart from this, they even underwent 3D MRI brain scans. The researchers analyzed the changes of the brain volume in both the groups.

The results were as expected. The subjects who completed the task after viewing the activity video had 11 times greater improvement in their motor skill abilities, mainly strength. But this was absent in the group which watched landscapes videos.

"Our study lends credence to the idea that even as an adult, your brain is able to better learn skills just by watching the activity take place. With a dramatic increase of videos available through mobile phones, computers, and other newer technology, this topic should be the focus of more research," said study author Paolo Preziosa, MD, with San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, Italy. "The results might also contribute to reducing disability and improving quality of those who are impaired or who are undergoing physical rehabilitation."

The study was funded by the Italian Foundation for Multiple Sclerosis.

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