Growing up, we all heard the expression “practice makes perfect” from our coaches or teachers. Then Malcolm Gladwell went on to popularize the research that expertise developed over “10,000
hours” of deliberate practice. But how does that really work? In this post, and my future posts, I’ll share what science knows about learning and how a special type of brain tissue called myelin plays a key role in helping us acquire and master skills. Myelin is a dielectric (electrically insulating) material that forms a layer, the Myelin Sheath, usually around only the axon of a neuron. It is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system. The purpose of the Myelin Sheath is to allow electrical impulses to transmit quickly and efficiently along the nerve cells. If Myelin is damaged or not fully developed, the impulses slow down. An interesting fact to know about Myelin is that Myelin continues to grow into our 60s. Now how does the Myelin sheath help us learn? What does it have to do with practice? How can it help you as a swimmer or Tri Athlete? These questions will be answered in next month’s post. For now, try to come to practice as much as you can.