Thursday, July 30, 2009

People do not 'learn from their mistakes'

[30 July 2009 - Telegraph (UK)] The old adage that we "learn more from our mistakes" could be wrong, with new research showing our brain only learns from experience when we do something right. ... Using monkeys, scientists gave the animals the task of looking at two alternating images on a computer screen. For one picture, the monkey was rewarded when it shifted its gaze to the right; for another it was similarly rewarded for looking the other way. The researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found that the monkeys' brain cell neural activity responded more positively to a correct answer. When they failed to get the right image however, there was little or no change in the brain, or any improvement in behaviour. They found that when an action was rewarded or not, neural activity in regions of the brains, the prefronal cortex and basal ganglia, long associated with learning and memory, lasted for several seconds, until the next trial. Response was stronger on a given trial if the previous one had been rewarded and weaker if the previous trial was an error. More

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