As it turns out, it really is all in your mind. New research from scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences Leipzig, the Public University of Navarre, and TU Berlin has demonstrated that thinking about something can alter our brains, and quickly.

Test subjects were hooked up to brain-computer interfaces (BCI), a device that operates under the assumption that brain activity can be altered simply by imagining a task.

After just one hour of training with the machine, researchers noted “significant changes” in brain activity.

One group of volunteers was asked to imagine they were moving their arms or feet, which are motor skills. Another group was asked to recognize and select letters on a screen, which is a visual task. Their brains were examined before and after the BCI experiment.

Researchers noted “measurable changes” in visual areas of the brain in visual task participants and changes in the motor area of the brain in motor skill participants.

The changes occurred in as little as an hour, a hyperspeed when compared to the weeks typically required to complete physical training.

It’s not clear if the alterations would occur without the help of the BCI and feedback from researchers.

Scientists hope the findings can help target areas of the brain impacted by stroke.

The paper has been published in the Journal of Physiology.

Header photo courtesy: Unsplash/@stairhopper