Scientists discover brain area that aids rapid learning

31st May 2016

A team from Oxford University and Imperial College have confirmed one of the areas in the brain that's responsible for the rapid updating of information during learning.

This is the sort of information that we use to negotiate situations that change quickly throughout our everyday life.

For this particular study, the team looked at an area called the mediodorsal thalamus (MD), which is known for being involved with decision making and learning.

Dr Anna Mitchell, senior author of the paper and Oxford researcher, said: "A key question in neurosciences is how the brain computes functions like planning a day's activities or making a decision to do one thing rather than the other."

Controversially, the study used Rhesus macaque monkeys, who were taught cognitive tasks on touchscreen computers that released food rewards for learning new information and making good choices.

The test was repeated after surgery involving lesions was carried out on the MD and the monkeys that could not use their MD were unable to adapt their behaviour and continue making the correct responses to receive their rewards.

Posted by Jeanette Royston



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