Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

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

21.10.2010
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, 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.

Gail Gallessich | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucsb.edu

Further reports about: Psychology basal ganglia frontal cortex

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
21.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nagoya physicists resolve long-standing mystery of structure-less transition

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Chronic stress induces fatal organ dysfunctions via a new neural circuit

21.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Scientists from the MSU studied new liquid-crystalline photochrom

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>