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 October 23, 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 October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. 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