Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Transfer Of Learning Traced To Areas Of The Brain

Date:
June 13, 2008
Source:
Karolinska Institutet
Summary:
Practice makes perfect, but a question that still remains a mystery is why it is so difficult to transfer learning from a trained to an untrained task? Why are we no better at remembering faces when we have been training our memory for words? Scientists now show in the journal Science that the answer lies in the brain areas activated by each task.

Practice makes perfect, but a question that still remains a mystery is why it is so difficult to transfer learning from a trained to an untrained task? Why are we no better at remembering faces when we have been training our memory for words? Scientists at Ume University and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden now show in the journal Science that the answer lies in the brain areas activated by each task.

The scientists studied the brain activity of healthy subjects as they performed a task that was part of a training program and two untrained tasks. Their performance on the trained task and one of the untrained tasks improved. What these two tasks had in common was the activation of the striatum, a cluster of neuronal nuclei in midbrain.

The study involved a group of older (over 65 years) and younger (20-30 years old) subjects, who were asked to participate in a training program to update information in working memory. After five weeks, both groups showed clear improvement on the trained tasks. The transfer effect was limited, but in the younger group transfer was observed to another test involving memory updating.

To examine the neural systems involved, the scientists studied their subjects’ brains using functional magnetic resonance imaging before and after training. During scanning, they performed a verbal updating task from the training program, a non-trained numerical task, which also required updating, and a non-trained task that did not require this skill. All tasks activated areas in the frontal cortex before training. In the younger group, the striatum was also activated during the updating tasks. After training, the striatum was activated during the trained task in both groups, and during the non-trained updating task in the younger group.

Altogether, the findings show that transfer is possible when both the trained and the non-trained tasks engage specific and overlapping brain systems, which is something to be borne in mind when developing and running training and rehabilitation programs. The striatum is a critical region in the updating of the working memory, and age-related changes here can inhibit the effects of both training and transfer.

The study was a joint project between scientists at Ume University and Karolinska Institutet under a network (Nordic Centre of Excellence in Cognitive Control) financed by the Joint Committee for Nordic Research Councils for the Humanities and the Social Sciences (NOS-HS). The work is being done at the Ume Center for Functional Brain Imaging (UFBI) and the authors of the paper are Erika Dahlin (Department of Integrative Medical Biology, Ume University), Anna Stigsdotter Neely (Department of Psychology, Ume University), Anne Larsson (Radiophysical Unit, Ume University), Lars Bckman (Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, KI) and Lars Nyberg (Department of Integrative Medical Biology and Department of Radiation Sciences, Ume University).


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Dahlin et al. Transfer of Learning After Updating Training Mediated by the Striatum. Science, 2008; 320 (5882): 1510 DOI: 10.1126/science.1155466

Cite This Page:

Karolinska Institutet. "Transfer Of Learning Traced To Areas Of The Brain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080613091439.htm>.
Karolinska Institutet. (2008, June 13). Transfer Of Learning Traced To Areas Of The Brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080613091439.htm
Karolinska Institutet. "Transfer Of Learning Traced To Areas Of The Brain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080613091439.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) In a ruling attorneys for both sides agreed was a first of its kind, a Georgia appeals court said parents can be held liable for what kids put online. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

Buzz60 (Oct. 17, 2014) Feeling down? Reach for the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet! TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shares some of the best foods to boost your mood. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

Newsy (Oct. 15, 2014) Researchers claim they’ve diagnosed the first example of the disorder in a 31-year-old U.S. Navy serviceman. 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