Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

MIT Neuroscientists Describe Brain’s ‘Checklist’

Date:
September 8, 2003
Source:
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology
Summary:
Neuroscientists at MIT suspect they’ve found the brain’s system for keeping track of what we do and at least one site in the brain that keeps a sort of checklist.

Neuroscientists at MIT suspect they’ve found the brain’s system for keeping track of what we do and at least one site in the brain that keeps a sort of checklist.

In a paper published in the Aug. 29 issue of the journal Science, Ann M. Graybiel, the Walter A. Rosenblith Professor of Neuroscience at the McGovern Institute at MIT, and research scientist Naotaka Fujii of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, report that the “checklist’ is in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, known for its ability to keep memories ready to use. They recorded neural activity in the prefrontal cortex in monkeys that had been trained to make a simple series of movements. The neurons whose activity they recorded responded faithfully with each movement, but also had an “extra” response when the monkeys finished the entire sequence of movements.

The experiments described in the report point to the extra response as being the checkmark -- the brain’s way of noting that the behavior has been done.

Having an overactive checklist system could lead to some of the symptoms displayed by people who suffer from damage to the frontal cortex. If the brain thinks actions are done and doesn’t have the urge to do them, apathy can result. Such lack of drive can be a major symptom of frontal lobe dysfunction. At the other extreme, if the brain lacks its checkmark system, behavior may get repeated over and over again. Perseverative behaviors are a classic symptom of frontal lobe damage. It is as though the “it’s done” signal is missing. Repetitive behaviors and thoughts are also features of obsessive compulsive disorder and a range of related disorders that affect both children and adults.

This work also suggests that the prefrontal cortex–basal ganglia brain regions from which the researchers recorded help “package” the individual parts of sequential behaviors into larger chunks. The same nerve cells that make the checkmark also accentuate their activity at the beginning of a movement sequence. A defect in this system may underlie some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, in which the patient has to think out each part of a sequence, even a simple movement sequence like standing up from a chair.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. "MIT Neuroscientists Describe Brain’s ‘Checklist’." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 September 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030905072715.htm>.
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. (2003, September 8). MIT Neuroscientists Describe Brain’s ‘Checklist’. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030905072715.htm
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. "MIT Neuroscientists Describe Brain’s ‘Checklist’." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030905072715.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) New research shows that women who suffer from PTSD are three times more likely to develop a food addiction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins