Belfast Telegraph

Active brains link to good learning

Some people just never learn - and now scientists think they know why.

People who keep making the same mistakes have less active brains.

Researchers studied the brainwave patterns of 36 volunteers who were given a simple time-guessing task.

Volunteers were asked to press a button when they thought an interval of 1.7 seconds had passed. They were then told if their guess was correct, too short or too long before having another attempt.

Good learners showed a greater electrical brain response when it was explained where they had gone wrong.

Their brains also demonstrated better communication between areas involved in performance monitoring and processes combining senses and physical actions.

Lead researcher Professor Joydeep Bhattacharya, from Goldsmiths, University of London, said: "We are always told how important it is to learn from our errors, our experiences, but is this true? If so, then why do we all not learn from our experiences in the same way? It seems some people rarely do, even when they were informed of their errors in repeated attempts.

"This study presents a first tantalising insight into how our brain processes the performance feedback and what it does with this information, whether to learn from it or to brush it aside."

The research, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, showed that brain responses correlated highly with how well volunteers learned the task and maintained the learned skill.

Co-author Caroline Di Bernardi Luft, also from Goldsmiths, said: "Good learners used the feedback not only to check their past performance, but also to adjust their next performance accordingly."


From Belfast Telegraph