Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Frontal lobe of the brain is key to automatic responses to various stimuli, say scientists

Date:
November 2, 2010
Source:
University of California -- Santa Barbara
Summary:
Some people may excel at riding a bike, tying a tie, or playing the piano, but those same people may find it difficult to explain or teach those skills to someone else. These motor skills are learned in one part of the brain, whereas classroom instruction and information read in a book are acquired in another area of the brain, according to researchers.

These are the average brain activations in people who have each applied a simple categorization rule more than 11,000 times.
Credit: Sebastien Helie, UCSB

Some people may excel at riding a bike, tying a tie, or playing the piano, but those same people may find it difficult to explain or teach those skills to someone else.

Related Articles


These motor skills are learned in one part of the brain, whereas classroom instruction and information read in a book are acquired in another area of the brain, explained F. Gregory Ashby, professor and chair of UC Santa Barbara's Department of Psychology. This second area of learning is the frontal cortex -- the area immediately behind the forehead -- where executive function is located.

A study of different categories of learning is reported by Ashby and his research team in the current issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. A group of 16 UCSB undergraduates took part in thousands of visual tests, so the psychologists could study their responses. A significant number of the trials took place in the university's brain imaging scanner using fMRI, which allowed the scientists to observe areas of the brain during testing.

The team found that tasks with explicit reasoning behind them were much simpler for test subjects. "When you can't explain the reasoning, it takes test subjects about 10 times as many trials to master," said Ashby.

These areas without explicit reasoning are grasped in a lower part of the brain, the basal ganglia. "It is similar to the fact that you can't explain what your fingers are doing when you are playing the piano," said Ashby.

However, he went on to explain that once a behavior becomes automatic, it becomes cortical. "Automatic behaviors are stored in similar ways, in the frontal cortex, regardless which system of the brain learned it first," he said.

Ashby cited the example of an excellent tennis player with Parkinson's disease. He said that scientists used to think that tennis skills were stored in the basal ganglia, where they were learned, and the area of the brain affected by Parkinson's disease. The player, however, was able to hit moving tennis balls with the same skill exhibited before he was diagnosed with Parkinson's. According to Ashby, it is because it was an automatic response for him, one that is entirely mediated in the cortical area.

This could explain why people can react quickly with an automatic response to an event that is first perceived in sensory areas, such as seeing an oncoming vehicle and slamming on the brakes. Again, these automatic behaviors are stored in similar ways regardless of which brain system learned the behavior first.

The other authors are first author and postdoctoral fellow Sebastien Helie, and graduate student Jessica L. Roeder. Both are with UCSB's Department of Psychology.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Sebastien Helie, Jessica L. Roeder, and F. Gregory Ashby. Evidence for Cortical Automaticity in Rule-Based Categorization. Journal of Neuroscience, 2010; 30: 14225-14234 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2393-10.2010

Cite This Page:

University of California -- Santa Barbara. "Frontal lobe of the brain is key to automatic responses to various stimuli, say scientists." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101020131714.htm>.
University of California -- Santa Barbara. (2010, November 2). Frontal lobe of the brain is key to automatic responses to various stimuli, say scientists. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101020131714.htm
University of California -- Santa Barbara. "Frontal lobe of the brain is key to automatic responses to various stimuli, say scientists." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101020131714.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. 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