Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Complex Brain Functions Help Adapt to New Situations and Stimuli

29.04.2010
New research by David Badre, assistant professor of cognitive and linguistic sciences at Brown University, and colleagues at the University of California–Berkeley suggests that the frontal cortex may have a larger role in decision-making in unfamiliar situations. Their paper appears in the current edition of Neuron.

Scientists have long known that the brain’s frontal cortex supports concrete rule learning. Less clear is how the brain processes more complex and unfamiliar knowledge. In a paper published today (Wednesday, April 28, 2010) in the journal Neuron, a team of researchers at Brown University and the University of California–Berkeley tested whether the frontal lobe has the ability to process more abstract knowledge and how this ability could help navigate new situations and stimuli.

The researchers believed that the brain’s frontal cortex could be organized in a front-to-back hierarchy in which the neurons at the front of the frontal cortex have the ability to process more progressively abstract knowledge. This part of the brain, therefore, would be more important in planning and deciding what to do when a person is faced with an unfamiliar problem. To test this hypothesis, the researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study participants during two unfamiliar tasks, one with concrete rules and the other with more abstract rules.

“The average person can easily determine how to open a door by pulling a rope rather than turning a knob, even if they have not seen the rope handle previously,” said David Badre, assistant professor of cognitive and linguistic sciences at Brown. “We wanted to investigate how the brain achieves this remarkable flexibility and test whether we use generalized forms of past knowledge to solve current problems.”

The researchers found that the activity in an anterior part of the frontal cortex predicted individual differences in participants’ success at discovering abstract relationships. Based on their observations, the researchers suggest that when faced with a new situation, people may search for relationships between context and action that involve multiple levels of abstraction simultaneously. This capability could underlie the ability to adapt behaviors based on the generalization of separate, past learning.

“How we face new problems and the reasoning, decision-making and action that we take in an uncertain situation may have more to do with the functional organization of the frontal cortex than we previously realized,” said Badre.

The National Institutes of Health provided funding for the study.

Anne Coyle | Brown University
Further information:
http://www.brown.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht New study points the way to therapy for rare cancer that targets the young
22.11.2017 | Rockefeller University

nachricht Penn study identifies new malaria parasites in wild bonobos
21.11.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Corporate coworking as a driver of innovation

22.11.2017 | Business and Finance

PPPL scientists deliver new high-resolution diagnostic to national laser facility

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>