Can you learn something just by watching? A new study not only says yes, but you can actually improve your motor skills while you’re at it.
The study, presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting, broke out the big guns (which, in this case, means 3D MRI brain scans) to determine just how much watching a video can alter a person. They had thirty-six healthy adults participate in forty-minute brain training sessions, five times a week for two weeks. Half watched videos on writing with pens, cutting with scissors, coin tricks, and other specific, simple tasks, and then were asked to try out the tasks themselves. The other half merely watched videos of landscapes before being asked to try out the simple tasks. Researchers did their brain scans before and after the study.
Participants who watched the training videos ended up having eleven times greater improvement of motor skills, especially strength, as those who did not watch the training videos. According to study author Paolo Preziosa, “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.”
So, want to learn some card tricks, or how to clean a tenderloin, or the proper way to squat? Don’t just muddle through it; watch a training video.