Just as guitar players and taxi drivers form musical and spatial brains, riders can build equestrian brains.
than sighted people do. That’s because their brains take spare neurons from unused visual cortex and conscript them to auditory use. Likewise, a rider’s goal is to commit more brain cells to body parts that are important astride a horse. The brain will recruit only under duress, as a teenager cleans her room only under threat of sanction. When we insist that our proprioceptive neurons do their job, they’re eager to work.
Head scans of guitar players and taxi drivers show that training builds brain tissue. For instance, neural real estate committed to controlling the left fingertips is much larger in people who play the guitar compared to those who don’t. Keith Richards’ brain bulges in this area; mine sags. London taxi drivers, who memorize over 25,000 city streets twisting in every direction, have more gray matter than average in the spatial memory zones of their cortex. Training---not innate talent or inborn anatomy---causes this effect. Just as guitar players and taxi drivers form musical and spatial brains, riders can build equestrian brains.
Because proprioception is improved through physical movement, people often assume that proprioceptive training is all about strengthening muscles and building physical balance.