I haven't posted much since in finished the book. I still strongly recommend it to everyone. It is a great read and explains, quite well, the back ground behind what we do for those who want the science.
As I said before, I had emailed Mr. Coyle with two questions. Here are his responses.
Your questions are right on target -- and I hope I can clarify them for you.
My Question: At one point in the book you said that the myelinated circuits are permanent. Later, you say that myelin is living tissue and deep practice must be maintained to maintain the circuits. Can you explain this apparent contradiction?
Dan's Answer: The best (if rough) analogy I have for myelinated circuits are growth rings on a tree. Myelin grows in the same way -- it doesn't un-grow, or unwrap. However, over time myelin does inevitably break down (like rings on a tree), and requires nourishment to be healthy -- i.e., you have to fire the nerve. Myelin's "one-way quality" refers to its growth dynamic -- that doesn't exempt it from the physical laws of organic growth and decay that govern all cells. Does that make sense? I certainly need to make it clearer in the book -- thanks for pointing this out.
My Question: You mention that deep practice has the feeling of your goal constantly slipping through your fingers. It sounds to me like this means you are practicing the failure (you are not quite succeeding in your goal). In my mind, the feeling should be that of just barely hanging on to your goal. Is this a difference in perspective? Is this just words? Or is there something specific in your description that I am missing.
Dan's Answer: You're on target -- there are two distinct neurological processes here that I've conflated into one. The feeling of failure -- the goal-slipping feeling -- is essentially synaptical learning. It is where you are constructing the circuit -- literally the points of connection, the neural scaffold. Once that circuit is constructed, then it needs to be strengthened, speeded up, upgraded -- and that's where myelin comes in; the firing/wrapping process. I considered explaining each of these separately -- and perhaps I should have -- but ended up combining them for simplicity's sake -- a decision whose shortcomings you have elegantly revealed.
Thanks for your interest, and thanks for reaching out.