Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rats! Humans and rodents process their mistakes

Date:
October 20, 2013
Source:
Brown University
Summary:
What happens when the brain recognizes an error? A new study shows that the brains of humans and rats adapt in a similar way to errors by using low-frequency brainwaves in the medial frontal cortex to synchronize neurons in the motor cortex. The finding could be important in studies of mental illnesses such as obsessive compulsive disorder, ADHD, and Parkinson's disease.

Evidence of error. Low-frequency brainwaves in the human medial frontal cortex change from low-power (blue) to high-power (red-orange) at the recognition of a mistake.
Credit: Image courtesy of Brown University

What happens when the brain recognizes an error? A new study shows that the brains of humans and rats adapt in a similar way to errors by using low-frequency brainwaves in the medial frontal cortex to synchronize neurons in the motor cortex. The finding could be important in studies of "adaptive control" like obsessive compulsive disorder, ADHD, and Parkinson's.

Related Articles


People and rats may think alike when they've made a mistake and are trying to adjust their thinking.

That's the conclusion of a study published online Oct. 20 in Nature Neuroscience that tracked specific similarities in how human and rodent subjects adapted to errors as they performed a simple time estimation task. When members of either species made a mistake in the trials, electrode recordings showed that they employed low-frequency brainwaves in the medial frontal cortex (MFC) of the brain to synchronize neurons in their motor cortex. That action correlated with subsequent performance improvements on the task.

"These findings suggest that neuronal activity in the MFC encodes information that is involved in monitoring performance and could influence the control of response adjustments by the motor cortex," wrote the authors, who performed the research at Brown University and Yale University.

The importance of the findings extends beyond a basic understanding of cognition, because they suggest that rat models could be a useful analog for humans in studies of how such "adaptive control" neural mechanics are compromised in psychiatric diseases.

"With this rat model of adaptive control, we are now able to examine whether novel drugs or other treatment procedures boost the integrity of this system," said James Cavanagh, co-lead author of the paper who was at Brown when the research was done and has since become assistant professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico. "This may have clear translational potential for treating psychiatric diseases such as obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Parkinson's disease and schizophrenia."

To conduct the study, the researchers measured external brainwaves of human and rodent subjects after both erroneous and accurate performance on the time estimation task. They also measured the activity of individual neurons in the MFC and motor cortex of the rats in both post-error and post-correct circumstances.

The scientists also gave the rats a drug that blocked activity of the MFC. What they saw in those rats compared to rats who didn't get the drug, was that the low-frequency waves did not occur in the motor cortex, neurons there did not fire coherently and the rats did not alter their subsequent behavior on the task.

Although the researchers were able to study the cognitive mechanisms in the rats in more detail than in humans, the direct parallels they saw in the neural mechanics of adaptive control were significant.

"Low-frequency oscillations facilitate synchronization among brain networks for representing and exerting adaptive control, including top-down regulation of behavior in the mammalian brain," they wrote.

In addition to Cavanagh, the lead authors are Nandakumar Narayanan, formerly of Yale and now of the University of Iowa, and James Cavanagh, formerly of Brown and now of the University of New Mexico. The senior authors are Michael Frank of Brown and Mark Laubach of Yale.

The National Institutes of Health (grants: K08 NS078100, MH080066-01, P01-AG030004-01) and the National Science Foundation (grants: 1125788 and 1121147) funded the research.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Nandakumar S Narayanan, James F Cavanagh, Michael J Frank, Mark Laubach. Common medial frontal mechanisms of adaptive control in humans and rodents. Nature Neuroscience, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nn.3549

Cite This Page:

Brown University. "Rats! Humans and rodents process their mistakes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131020160731.htm>.
Brown University. (2013, October 20). Rats! Humans and rodents process their mistakes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131020160731.htm
Brown University. "Rats! Humans and rodents process their mistakes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131020160731.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) 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:

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