Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why We Learn From Our Mistakes

Date:
July 3, 2007
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
Psychologists have identified an "early warning signal" in the brain that helps us avoid repeating previous mistakes. Their research identifies, for the first time, a mechanism in the brain that reacts in just 0.1 seconds to things that have resulted in us making errors in the past.

Psychologists from the University of Exeter have identified an 'early warning signal' in the brain that helps us avoid repeating previous mistakes. Published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, their research identifies, for the first time, a mechanism in the brain that reacts in just 0.1 seconds to things that have resulted in us making errors in the past.

Previous research has shown that we learn more about things for which we initially make incorrect predictions than for things for which our initial predictions are correct. The element of surprise in discovering we are wrong is conducive to learning, but this research is the first to show how amazingly rapid our brain's response can be. This discovery was made possible through the use of electrophysiological recordings, which allow researchers to detect processes in the brain at the instant they occur.

'It's a bit of a clichι to say that we learn more from our mistakes than our successes,' said psychologist Professor Andy Wills of the University of Exeter, 'but for the first time we've established just how quickly the brain works to help us avoid repeating errors. By monitoring activity in the brain as it occurs, we were able to identify the moment at which this mechanism kicks in.'

For this study, a group of volunteers took part in a computerised task, which involved them making predictions based on information they were given. New information was then introduced, which made many of their predictions incorrect, so they needed to learn from this in order to avoid repeating the error. While they did this, their brain activity was recorded via 58 electrodes placed on their scalp. The researchers identified activity in the lower temporal region of the brain, the area closest to the temples. This occurred almost immediately after the person was presented with the visual object that had previously made them make an error, and before there was time for conscious consideration.

Most previous research in this field has focused on the frontal lobes of the brain, which are the areas associated with sophisticated human thought processes such as planning, analysis and conscious decision-making. The lower temporal region of the brain, which was the focus for this activity, is responsible for the recognition of visual objects.

'This brain signal could help us in many different kinds of situations,' said Professor Wills. 'For example, when driving abroad the rules of the road sometimes differ. We may make a mistake the first time we misinterpret a situation, for example not realising that in the States cars can turn right on a red light. The next time we're driving out there and see a red light, this early warning signal will immediately alert us to our previous mistake to prevent us from repeating it.'

This research was funded by the BBSRC.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "Why We Learn From Our Mistakes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 July 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070702084247.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2007, July 3). Why We Learn From Our Mistakes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070702084247.htm
University of Exeter. "Why We Learn From Our Mistakes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070702084247.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) — Yale researchers tested 135 men and women, and it was only obese women who were deemed to have "impaired associative learning." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Does Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Boost Urge To Drink?

Does Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Boost Urge To Drink?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) — A new study suggests that mixing alcohol with energy drinks makes you want to keep the party going. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pot Cooking Class Teaches Responsible Eating

Pot Cooking Class Teaches Responsible Eating

AP (July 18, 2014) — Following the nationwide trend of eased restrictions on marijuana use, pot edibles are growing in popularity. One Boston-area cooking class is teaching people how to eat pot responsibly. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Understanding D.C.'s New Pot Laws

Understanding D.C.'s New Pot Laws

Newsy (July 17, 2014) — Washington D.C.'s new laws decriminalizing small amount of marijuana went into effect Thursday. Here's how they work. 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:
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