Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

For Easy Tasks, Brain Preps And Decides Together

Date:
March 14, 2007
Source:
Georgia Institute of Technology
Summary:
A Georgia Tech researcher has discovered that for tasks involving spatial processing, preparing for the task and performing it are not two separate brain processes, but one -- at least when there are a small number of actions to choose from.

A brain scan illustrates areas that became active when the subject was presented with a stimulus.
Credit: Image courtesy of Georgia Institute of Technology

A Georgia Tech researcher has discovered that for tasks involving spatial processing, preparing for the task and performing it are not two separate brain processes, but one – at least when there are a small number of actions to choose from. The research appears online in the journal Brain Research.

Related Articles


A brain scan illustrates areas that became active when the subject was presented with a stimulus. In this study, those same areas also became active when the subject was cued to the task, indicating that the same areas of the brain that respond to stimuli.

In a brain imaging study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Eric Schumacher, assistant professor of psychology at the Georgia Institute of Technology, along with colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of California, Berkeley, monitored the activity of brain regions in subjects while they responded to visual stimuli.

The researchers predicted that when they gave the subjects a cue that they were about to perform a hard task, only the superior parietal cortex, known for its involvement in spatial attention, and the premotor cortex, known for planning movements, would activate. Then, the prefrontal cortex, known for its role in decision-making, would activate after the stimulus was presented. But they were wrong.

"We found that all of these regions began to activate when the subjects prepared to do the task, even the prefrontal, which is the region that makes the decision on what to do,” said Schumacher. “Activating the decision-making region even before the stimulus is presented seems to allow for a quicker response, it allows the brain to get a running start.”

Subjects were loaded into an MRI scanner and then shown a disk on a screen prompting them to press a button. They had two different tasks to perform, one labeled easy, and one hard. During the easy task, subjects were asked to push a button using the fingers of their left hand if the disk appeared on the left of the screen and their right hand if the disk appeared on the right. The hard task was manually incompatible, so that if the disk appeared on the left, they were to push the buttons using their right hand and vice-versa. Sometimes a visual cue prompted them that they were about to perform the hard or the easy task, sometimes it did not.

When the tasks were cued, all three regions of the brain increased their activity. When there was no cue, there was less activity.

So what does this mean in the real world?

"One analogous situation might be when you’re driving and coming up on an intersection where there is a stale green light. You may get ready for the light to change to yellow and then red. My research suggests that this preparation for the upcoming change and appropriate responses involves the same brain regions that are involved in actually pressing the brake (or gas) once the light turns red or yellow,” said Schumacher.

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Veterans Administration.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Georgia Institute of Technology. "For Easy Tasks, Brain Preps And Decides Together." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 March 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070307075607.htm>.
Georgia Institute of Technology. (2007, March 14). For Easy Tasks, Brain Preps And Decides Together. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 3, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070307075607.htm
Georgia Institute of Technology. "For Easy Tasks, Brain Preps And Decides Together." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070307075607.htm (accessed March 3, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

This Nasal Treatment Could Help Ease Migraine Pain

This Nasal Treatment Could Help Ease Migraine Pain

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) Researchers gave lidocaine to 112 patients, and about 88 percent of the subjects said they needed less migraine-relief medicine the next day. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Facebook Use Can Lead To Depression

How Facebook Use Can Lead To Depression

Newsy (Mar. 1, 2015) Margaret Duffy of the University of Missouri talks about her study on the social network and the envy and depression that Facebook use can cause. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods to Battle Stress

The Best Foods to Battle Stress

Buzz60 (Feb. 26, 2015) If you&apos;re dealing with anxiety, there are a few foods that can help. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the best foods to tame stress. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sleeping Too Much Or Too Little Might Increase Stroke Risk

Sleeping Too Much Or Too Little Might Increase Stroke Risk

Newsy (Feb. 26, 2015) People who sleep more than eight hours per night are 45 percent more likely to have a stroke, according to a University of Cambridge study. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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