Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Passive Learning Imprints On The Brain Just Like Active Learning

Date:
July 15, 2008
Source:
Dartmouth College
Summary:
It's conventional wisdom that practice makes perfect. But if practicing only consists of watching, rather than doing, does that advance proficiency? Yes, according to a new study.

A view of the left hemisphere of the brain (with the left part of the image being the forward part of the brain) illustrating the Action Observance Network regions.
Credit: Image courtesy Emily Cross

It's conventional wisdom that practice makes perfect. But if practicing only consists of watching, rather than doing, does that advance proficiency? Yes, according to a study by Dartmouth researchers. They determined that people can acquire motor skills through the "seeing" as well as the "doing" form of learning.

"It's been established in previous research that there are correlations in behavioral performance between active and passive learning, but in this study we were surprised by the remarkable similarity in brain activation when our research participants observed dance sequences that were actively or passively experienced," says Emily Cross, the principal investigator and PhD student at Dartmouth. Cross, who earned her degree in June, is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany.

Cross and her collaborators used a video game where players have to move in a particular sequence to match the position of arrows on the screen, similar to the popular Dance Dance Revolution game. The researchers measured the skill level of participants for sequences that were actively rehearsed daily, and a different set of sequences that were passively observed for an equivalent amount of time. Brain activity when watching both kinds of sequences (as well as a third set of sequences that were entirely unfamiliar) was captured using fMRI, functional magnetic resonance imaging. The study focused on the Action Observance Network (AON) in the brain, a group of neural regions found mostly in the inferior parietal and premotor cortices of the brain (near the top of the head) responsible for motor skills and some memory functions.

"We collected fMRI data before and after five days of both visual and physical training," says Cross, "and there was common AON activity when watching the practiced and observed dance sequences."

This research contributes to a growing body of study about how people learn and how best to help people with brain injuries. Cross explains that future studies might consider how such overlap between physical and observational learning at the brain level can improve upon rehabilitation therapies for individuals affected by physical or neurological injury.

Cross's co-authors on the paper were David J. M. Kraemer, Antonia F. de C. Hamilton, William M. Kelley, and Scott T. Grafton, all currently or formerly associated with Dartmouth's Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Kraemer is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, Hamilton is now on the faculty of the University of Nottingham's School of Psychology, Kelley is associate professor of psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth, and Grafton is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Sensitivity of the Action Observation Network to Physical and Observational Learning. Cerebral Cortex, 2008; DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhn083

Cite This Page:

Dartmouth College. "Passive Learning Imprints On The Brain Just Like Active Learning." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080714111425.htm>.
Dartmouth College. (2008, July 15). Passive Learning Imprints On The Brain Just Like Active Learning. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080714111425.htm
Dartmouth College. "Passive Learning Imprints On The Brain Just Like Active Learning." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080714111425.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