Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Transfer of learning traced to areas of the brain

13.06.2008
Practice makes perfect, but a question that still remains a mystery is why it is so difficult to transfer learning from a trained to an untrained task? Why are we no better at remembering faces when we have been training our memory for words? Scientists at Umeå University and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden now show in the journal Science that the answer lies in the brain areas activated by each task.

The scientists studied the brain activity of healthy subjects as they performed a task that was part of a training program and two untrained tasks. Their performance on the trained task and one of the untrained tasks improved. What these two tasks had in common was the activation of the striatum, a cluster of neuronal nuclei in midbrain.

The study involved a group of older (over 65 years) and younger (20-30 years old) subjects, who were asked to participate in a training program to update information in working memory. After five weeks, both groups showed clear improvement on the trained tasks. The transfer effect was limited, but in the younger group transfer was observed to another test involving memory updating.

To examine the neural systems involved, the scientists studied their subjects' brains using functional magnetic resonance imaging before and after training. During scanning, they performed a verbal updating task from the training program, a non-trained numerical task, which also required updating, and a non-trained task that did not require this skill. All tasks activated areas in the frontal cortex before training. In the younger group, the striatum was also activated during the updating tasks. After training, the striatum was activated during the trained task in both groups, and during the non-trained updating task in the younger group.

Altogether, the findings show that transfer is possible when both the trained and the non-trained tasks engage specific and overlapping brain systems, which is something to be borne in mind when developing and running training and rehabilitation programs. The striatum is a critical region in the updating of the working memory, and age-related changes here can inhibit the effects of both training and transfer.

The study was a joint project between scientists at Umeå University and Karolinska Institutet under a network (Nordic Centre of Excellence in Cognitive Control) financed by the Joint Committee for Nordic Research Councils for the Humanities and the Social Sciences (NOS-HS). The work is being done at the Umeå Centre for Functional Brain Imaging (UFBI) and the authors of the paper are Erika Dahlin (Department of Integrative Medical Biology, Umeå University), Anna Stigsdotter Neely (Department of Psychology, Umeå University), Anne Larsson (Radiophysical Unit, Umeå University), Lars Bäckman (Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, KI) and Lars Nyberg (Department of Integrative Medical Biology and Department of Radiation Sciences, Umeå University).

For further information, contact either Professor Lars Nyberg at +46 (0)90-785 33 64 or +46 (0)90-786 64 29, or via lars.nyberg@diagrad.umu.se;

or Professor Lars Bäckman at +46 (0)8-690 58 26 or +46 (0)70-5934513 or via lars.backman.1@ki.se

Hans Fällman | idw
Further information:
http://www.vr.se

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Diverse amyloid structures and dynamics revealed by high-speed atomic force microscopy
04.08.2020 | Kanazawa University

nachricht New approach for targeted cancer immunotherapy
30.07.2020 | Universität Basel

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: AI & single-cell genomics

New software predicts cell fate

Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...

Im Focus: TU Graz Researchers synthesize nanoparticles tailored for special applications

“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.

Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...

Im Focus: Tailored light inspired by nature

An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.

Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...

Im Focus: NYUAD astrophysicist investigates the possibility of life below the surface of Mars

  • A rover expected to explore below the surface of Mars in 2022 has the potential to provide more insights
  • The findings published in Scientific Reports, Springer Nature suggests the presence of traces of water on Mars, raising the question of the possibility of a life-supporting environment

Although no life has been detected on the Martian surface, a new study from astrophysicist and research scientist at the Center for Space Science at NYU Abu...

Im Focus: Manipulating non-magnetic atoms in a chromium halide enables tuning of magnetic properties

New approach creates synthetic layered magnets with unprecedented level of control over their magnetic properties

The magnetic properties of a chromium halide can be tuned by manipulating the non-magnetic atoms in the material, a team, led by Boston College researchers,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2020”: The final touches for surfaces

23.07.2020 | Event News

Conference radar for cybersecurity

21.07.2020 | Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

First radio detection of an extrasolar planetary system around a main-sequence star

04.08.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

The art of making tiny holes

04.08.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Early Mars was covered in ice sheets, not flowing rivers

04.08.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>