Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Two-dimensional learning: Viewing computer images causes long-term changes in nerve cell connections

Date:
September 28, 2011
Source:
Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum
Summary:
Viewing two-dimensional images of the environment, as they occur in computer games, leads to sustained changes in the strength of nerve cell connections in the brain. When the researchers presented rats with new spatial environments on a computer screen, they observed long-lasting changes in the communication between nerve cells in a brain structure which is important for long-term memory (hippocampus). Thus, the researchers showed for the first time that active exploration of the environment is not necessary to obtain this effect.

Viewing two-dimensional images of the environment, as they occur in computer games, leads to sustained changes in the strength of nerve cell connections in the brain. In Cerebral Cortex, Prof. Dr. Denise Manahan-Vaughan and Anne Kemp of the RUB Department for Neurophysiology report about these findings. When the researchers presented rats with new spatial environments on a computer screen, they observed long-lasting changes in the communication between nerve cells in a brain structure which is important for long-term memory (hippocampus). Thus, the researchers showed for the first time that active exploration of the environment is not necessary to obtain this effect.

"These results help to understand to what extent digital learning in the brain competes with learning in the physical environment," says Manahan-Vaughan. "This is interesting for developing strategies for use of digital media in school. Such strategies can prove a useful antidote to the apathy in children towards the traditional teaching methods."

Two mechanisms for learning in the brain

In the hippocampus, two different mechanisms for the long-term storage of new information are at work . Long-term potentiation leads to an increase in the communication between nerve cells. Long-term depression, on the other hand, weakens the connections between the cells. „According to our results, cell populations react with potentiation at the beginning, for instance when we enter a new room ," explains Manahan-Vaughan. „Long-term depression then allows us to refine this new cellular information and encode the details and characteristics of the room."

Learning without movement

The Bochum team showed that long-term depression takes place in a special part of the hippocampus, when rats actively explore their environment. "We were, however, not sure if these changes in nerve cell communication were influenced by the movement of the animals or were purely due to learning about the novel objects," explains Manahan-Vaughan. In order to separate both effects, the researchers presented the spatial context via a computer screen so that active exploration of the environment was unnecessary. Long-term depression occurred also without movement, meaning that it mediates passive learning in the hippocampus.

Computer and TV compete with learning in school

"School teachers, particularly at the junior school level have become increasingly concerned at their observations that each generation of school children exhibits shorter attention spans and poorer retention abilities than the previous generation," states Manahan-Vaughan. "One explanation for this is the ever increasing use of the digital media by school children. Our results indeed show that mammals can learn equally well when they passively view information on a computer screen compared to actively exploring the environment for this information. Television or computer games after school may compete with the information learned in school."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Kemp, D. Manahan-Vaughan. Passive Spatial Perception Facilitates the Expression of Persistent Hippocampal Long-Term Depression. Cerebral Cortex, 2011; DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhr233

Cite This Page:

Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum. "Two-dimensional learning: Viewing computer images causes long-term changes in nerve cell connections." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110926111358.htm>.
Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum. (2011, September 28). Two-dimensional learning: Viewing computer images causes long-term changes in nerve cell connections. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110926111358.htm
Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum. "Two-dimensional learning: Viewing computer images causes long-term changes in nerve cell connections." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110926111358.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. 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