Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Neuroimaging shows how the brain learns mental skills

Date:
February 9, 2011
Source:
University of Royal Holloway London
Summary:
Movements become skilled and automatic with practice, so tasks like riding a bicycle can be performed without much attention or mental effort. New research provides evidence that the cerebellum, a part of the brain used to store memories for skilled movements, could also store memories important for mental skills – such as the rules used to interpret traffic light signals.

Movements become skilled and automatic with practise, so tasks like riding a bicycle can be performed without much attention or mental effort. New research by scientists at Royal Holloway, University of London provides evidence that the cerebellum, a part of the brain used to store memories for skilled movements, could also store memories important for mental skills -- such as the rules used to interpret traffic light signals.

The prefrontal cortex, in the frontal lobe, uses problem-solving to establish the correct rules using attention, and the new research raises the possibility that the cerebellum then learns to implement them skilfully with little conscious attention, freeing the prefrontal cortex to direct attention to new problems.

The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, reports that brain imaging was used to scan volunteers during learning, and that in a part of the cerebellum known to be connected with the prefrontal cortex, activity changed from one practice trial to the next. The rate of change was faster for rules that became automatic more quickly. After practice, volunteers used simple rules quickly and accurately even when attention drawn away by a 'distractor' task performed at the same time.

Dr Ramnani, from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway said: "The study adds to the groundwork for understanding cognitive deficits in patients with cerebellar damage and improving strategies for their rehabilitation. It also raises the possibility that the cerebellum might be used for the skillful, automatic and unconscious use of mathematical and grammatical rules."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Joshua H. Balsters and Narender Ramnani. Cerebellar Plasticity and the Automation of First-Order Rules. Journal of Neuroscience, (in press)

Cite This Page:

University of Royal Holloway London. "Neuroimaging shows how the brain learns mental skills." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110209082634.htm>.
University of Royal Holloway London. (2011, February 9). Neuroimaging shows how the brain learns mental skills. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110209082634.htm
University of Royal Holloway London. "Neuroimaging shows how the brain learns mental skills." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110209082634.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. 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