A number of studies across various domains– from juggling to taxi navigation to meditation to music to motor learning to processing speed– demonstrate the importance of experience on patterns of neural connectivity. Finally, the cognitive ability domain is catching up.
In recent years, neuroscientists have discovered a large-scale brain network critical for novel and complex goal-directed problem solving. According to Aron Barbey and colleagues, a major function of this network is the manipulation, integration, and control of distributed patterns of neural activity throughout the brain, including lower-level sensory and motor modules. This neural integrative architecture– sometimes referred to as the prefrontal parietal network– involves efficient and reliable communication between specific areas of the lateral prefrontal cortex (critical for high-level abstract integration) and posterior parietal lobe (critical for sensory integration). Here’s an illustration of the key regions of this neural architecture, along with the critical white matter tract binding these regions together into a coordinated network. [Full Article]