Training even helps the gifted
A part of what makes an athlete great may be the result of good genes, but even they need lots of practice to develop the brain of an athlete. When someone begins to practice a martial art, the person’s brain begins to change, and the changes continue for many years. Scientists at the University of Regensburg in Germany documented the process by scanning people as they learned how to juggle. After a week, the jugglers were already developing extra gray matter in some areas of the brain and their brains continued to change for months.
Practice not only changes the brain's anatomy, it also helps different regions of the brain communicate better with each other. Some neurons strengthen their connections to other neurons, while they simultaneously weaken their connections to other neurons. During early training, neurons in the front of the brain (the prefrontal cortex) are active, which enables the person to focus on a particular task and consider a range of responses. With practice, the prefrontal cortex grows quiet since predictions get faster and more accurate, so not as much careful oversight of responses is needed.