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Stop Saying the Brain Learns By Rewiring Itself

Most neuroscientists accept that the brain computes by modifying its synapses, the links between neurons. On this view, the brain learns because experience molds it, rather than because experience implants facts. But experience does implant facts. We all know this, because we retrieve and make use of them throughout the day.Illustration by Gary Waters / Getty Images

Most neuroscientists believe that the brain learns by rewiring itself—by changing the strength of connections between brain cells, or neurons. But experimental results published a few years ago, from a lab at Lund University in Sweden, hint that we need to change our approach. They suggest the brain learns in a way more analogous to that of a computer: It encodes information into molecules inside neurons and reads out that

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