Research

New Research Reveals A More Detailed Mechanics of Learning

November 3
5:38 AM 2016

Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin can now map what happens neurologically when new information influences a person to change his or her mind, a finding that offers more insight into the mechanics of learning. The study, which was published Nov. 1 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined how dynamic shifts in a person's knowledge are updated in the brain and impact decision making.

The process, researchers said, involves two components of the brain working together to update and "bias" conceptual knowledge with new information to form new ideas.

In the study, researchers monitored neural activity while participants learned to classify a group of images in two different ways. First participants had to learn how to conceptualize the group of images, or determine how the images were similar to each other based on similar features. Once they grouped the images, participants were then asked to switch their attention to other features within the images and group them based on these similarities instead.

According to the study, the prefrontal cortex (PFC) -- the front part of the brain that orchestrates thoughts and actions -- tunes selective attention to relevant features and compares that information with the existing conceptual knowledge in the HPC, updating the organization of items based on the new relevant features, researchers said.

"Looking forward, our findings place HPC as a central component of cognition -- it is the brain's code builder. I think these findings will motivate future research to consider the more general-purpose function of the hippocampus," said Mack, who is now an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. These findings add to the growing, though limited, body of literature on the function of the HPC beyond episodic memory by providing direct evidence of its role, in concert with the PFC, in building conceptual knowledge.

© 2023 VCPOST, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
Tags
Share

Comments

Join the Conversation

Subscribe to VCpost newsletter

Sign up for our Deals of the Day newsletter.
We will not spam you!

Real Time Analytics