The benefits of learning new activities like pottery for mental health and neural plasticity:
Learning new skills promotes neurogenesis
The growth of new brain cells – even into adulthood. Studies have found that learning new skill and hobbies lead to increased gray matter in certain brain regions after even just 7 days.
Mastering new abilities requires focused attention and learning
This stimulates the prefrontal cortex which is involved in complex thinking, decision making, and regulating emotions.
Pottery specifically has been linked to lowering stress and anxiety levels
The repetitive hand movements and focus on the task can induce a meditative state. A 2015 study found pottery-making significantly reduced depression and anxiety.
Working with clay is considered bilateral stimulation
The left and right hands perform different coordinated tasks which integrate the two hemispheres of the brain. This can improve connections between the hemispheres.
– Acquiring new motor skills like pottery wheel throwing promotes plasticity as the brain forms new neural pathways and patterns of activation. A 2013 imaging study showed changes in connectivity patterns after 6 weeks of pottery lessons.
– Learning handcrafts like pottery requires complex perception, visual-spatial processing, planning, and problem-solving. This cognitive enrichment strengthens reserves that can help prevent cognitive decline with age.
Evidence shows learning new hands-on activities can stimulate beneficial structural and functional changes in the brain through neuroplasticity. Pottery specifically can reduce stress, integrate brain hemispheres, and improve cognitive reserve – providing important mental health advantages.