Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Source of physical performance found in brain

14.06.2002


New research distinguishes between learning physical skills and brain activity associated with performing those skills



A new study from the Department of Veterans Affairs suggests that the brain’s coordination center is not active while we learn new motor skills – but it is active while we use them. The findings appear in the June 14 issue of Science.
Investigators concentrated on the cerebellum -- a part of the brain closely linked to movement (motor skills) and coordination. Located at the base of the brain, its function is somewhat mysterious.

The distinction between learning activity in the brain and performance activity represents an important step toward understanding more precisely how the brain processes information and how it affects the body.



The cerebellum’s role in learning motor skills has been controversial, mostly because as we learn a skill we also change our performance. So, is the cerebellum related to the skill itself or does it merely instruct the muscles and joints to improve performance?

Dr. James Ashe of the Minneapolis VA Medical Center and colleagues from the University of Minnesota and University of Virginia found that they could train subjects to learn a finger-movement task but prevent them from changing their performance by asking them to perform another (distractor) task at the same time.

When the distractor task was withdrawn, the subjects changed performance showing they had learned the movements.

Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) investigators detected brain activity in the cerebellum during the performance of learned motor skills, but not during the learning phase itself.

These findings suggest that the cerebellum does not contribute to learning a sequence of motor skills per se, but rather to how well the skills are performed.

Dr. Ashe believes the findings hold potential significance for patients.

"This helps us understand some of the movement problems experienced by patients after stroke or other diseases of the cerebellum. It is possible that such understanding might be used in the future to develop better rehabilitation and training procedures to aid the recovery of function in patients with cerebellar disease."

According to Ashe, researchers may delve deeper into the effect practice has on performance.

"Our primary interest is in how changes in brain activity enable us to learn motor skills through practice. Work such as ours may help us understand which brain areas are most important for learning and why some individuals learn motor skills more easily than others."



The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

VA research provides improved medical care for veterans, as well as the general population. Through its unique affiliation with medical schools, VA plays a crucial role in educating future physicians in research and clinically oriented areas.


Linda Duffy | EurekAlert

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution
27.03.2017 | Lancaster University

nachricht Parallel computation provides deeper insight into brain function
27.03.2017 | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>