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When the distractor task was withdrawn, the subjects changed performance showing they had learned the movements.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 Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>