How Does The Brain Link Related Objects
The purpose of our study was to understand how the brain links different things together. Imagine your friend gets a new dog. Your brain quickly learns this new link between your friend and the dog. Every time you see this dog, you know it belongs to your friend. We wanted to understand how nerve cells in the brain store these links. As we explain below, when you look at different things, some nerve cells in your brain get powered on. Our hypothesis was that, when you learn the link between your friend and his dog, the same nerve cells would get powered on for both your friend and his dog.
Learning Language: New Insights Into How Brain Functions
- University of Delaware
- When it comes to learning a language, the left side of the brain has traditionally been considered the hub of language processing. But new research shows the right brain plays a critical early role in helping learners identify the basic sounds associated with a language. That could help find new teaching methods to better improve student success in picking up a foreign language.
For most native English-speakers, learning the Mandarin Chinese language from scratch is no easy task.
Learning it in a class that essentially compresses a one-semester college course into a single month of intensive instruction — and agreeing to have your brain scanned before and after — might seem even more daunting.
But the 24 Americans who did just that have enabled University of Delaware cognitive neuroscientist Zhenghan Qi and her colleagues to make new discoveries about how adults learn a foreign language.
The study, published in May in the journal NeuroImage, focused on the roles of the brain’s left and right hemispheres in language acquisition. The findings could lead to instructional methods that potentially improve students’ success in learning a new language.
“The left hemisphere is known as the language-learning part of the brain, but we found that it was the right hemisphere that determined the eventual success” in learning Mandarin, said Qi, assistant professor of linguistics and cognitive science.
The Process Of Memory Consolidation
Memory consolidation is the brains ability to process events and turn them into memories.
When certain neurotransmitters are present in the brain, they enable the nerve cells to communicate with one another via synaptic connections. Once two neurons fire together more than once, they are more likely to fire together again . Once a message has been thoroughly communicated, you have memory consolidation.
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Testing Parts Of Brain Involved In Learning
In the study titled “Opposing Roles for Striatonigral and Striatopallidal Neurons in Dorsolateral Striatum in Consolidating New Instrumental Actions,” published in Nature, researchers examined the role of the dorsal striatum in action learning that was not previously explored by other scientists.
Sietse Jonkman, Ph.D., a former postdoctoral fellow at Mount Sinai, said that the study aims to conduct an in-depth analysis of the striatal circuits that may be involved in action learning.
According to News Medical Life Sciences, the team tested the ability of hungry rodents to find food. On the first day of the experiment, they divided the mice into two groups: control and experimental groups.
The experimental group was put into a cage and were trained to earn food by pressing a lever that will release a food pellet every time it is pressed. After two days, the team tested whether the rodents learned this behavior by putting them into a special cage wherein no food pellets were released even after pressing the lever.
The rodents continued to press it, indicating that they have learned the behavior. On the other hand, the control group would search around and only press the lever a few times.
During the experiment, the team examined the rodents’ neural activity and found that neurons in specific areas of the dorsal striatum in the experimental group were more activated than those in the control group.
How Can We Listen To Nerve Cells
Nerve cells are special cells in our brains. There are billions of nerve cells in the brain, and they are responsible for all that we think and do. For example, every time you look at something, a bunch of nerve cells in your brain get powered on and pass on messages to other nerve cells about what you are looking at. So, if we want to know if a nerve cell has been powered on by something , we need to be able to listen to these messages. When nerve cells get powered on, they send their messages to one another in the form of small electric currents. To listen to nerve cells, we need to be able to measure these small electric currents. Electric currents can be measured with tiny wires that are called electrodes. Each nerve cell has a very small voice . So, to listen to individual nerve cells, we need to get our electrodes really close to them. This means that the electrodes need to be inserted into the brain, up close to the nerve cells that we want to listen to.
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Exercises And Critical Thinking
The Brain Stem Relays Signals Between The Brain And Spinal Cord And Manages Basic Involuntary Functions
The brain stem connects the spinal cord to the higher-thinking centers of the brain. It consists of three structures: the medulla oblongata, the pons, and the midbrain. The medulla oblongata is continuous with the spinal cord and connects to the pons above. Both the medulla and the pons are considered part of the hindbrain. The midbrain, or mesencephalon, connects the pons to the diencephalon and forebrain. Besides relaying sensory and motor signals, the structures of the brain stem direct involuntary functions. The pons helps control breathing rhythms. The medulla handles respiration, digestion, and circulation, and reflexes such as swallowing, coughing, and sneezing. The midbrain contributes to motor control, vision, and hearing, as well as vision- and hearing-related reflexes.
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Your Left Hemisphere Vs Your Right Hemisphere
Scientists have long held the theory that the left and right hemisphere of your brain control different functions when it comes to learning. The left hemisphere is thought to control language, math and logic, while the right hemisphere is responsible for spatial abilities, visual imagery, music and your ability to recognize faces. The left hemisphere of your brain also controls the movement on the right side of your body.
History Of The Cerebellum
The distinct appearance of the cerebellum was first described thousands of years ago by philosophers. The Roman physician Galen gave the earliest written surviving descriptions of this part of the brain.
It was not until the early 19th-century, however, that physicians and researchers began to learn more about the functions of this region of the brain. Experimental work that involved ablating portions of the cerebellum in animals revealed that this part of the brain is important in the coordination of movement.
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Research In Brain Function And Learning
Research in brain function and learning.
The brain begins to mature even before birth. Although it continues to mature throughout most of life, the brain does not mature at the same rate in each individual.
This should not be surprising. After all, our bodies grow at different rates we reach puberty at different ages and our emotional maturity at different times as well. Why should our brains be any different?
Just because you have a classroom full of students who are about the same age doesn’t mean they are equally ready to learn a particular topic, concept, skill, or idea. It is important for teachers and parents to understand that maturation of the brain influences learning readiness. For teachers, this is especially important when designing lessons and selecting which strategies to use.
As a teacher, all children need to be challenged and nurtured in order to profit from your instruction. Instruction that is above or below the maturity level of a child’s brain is not only inappropriate it can also lead to behavior problems in your classroom. Inappropriate behaviors such as avoidance, challenging authority and aggression towards other students can be explained by a failure to match instruction to the brain maturity of your students.
For all of these reasons, it is important to understand how our brains mature as well as the differences that may be present at each stage of “normal” development.
The recommendations below are supported by evidence.
The Neuroscience Of Memory Recall
So, how do you fine-tune and upgrade that mental Ethernet connection to have a stronger memory recall? By building strong neural pathways.
Basically, to have a powerful memory recall means to have strong synaptic connections the better your cells are able to communicate with each other, the more quickly and accurately you will be able to access memories.
You can strengthen these synaptic connections by sending the signal more frequently and having the neurons communicate more often. This paves a strong and clear neural pathway its like when a hiking path is more traveled, its easier to walk along.
The brain works this way because it is neuroplastic, meaning that it is constantly changing shape and form to suit your present needs. For instance, do you really need to remember all of the kids names you went to elementary school with?
Since you dont, your brain works in this handy use it or lose it fashion. Thanks to this process of neuroplasticity, your brain is able to constantly take in new information and sharply perform the needs of now.
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Assembling A Brain In The Laboratory
Hebbian synapses have also been demonstrated in another kind of laboratory, where computer scientists and engineers have built them into a computer chip. The device is a simple one, with only 16 synapses, but it performs Hebbian learning quite efficiently, at the rate of a million times per second. Newer chips have already been developed to represent more realistic neurons, with many thousands of synapses and technology to represent the connections between such neurons will make the assembly of something more nearly resembling a working brain a little easier to envision. Such a device will have to combine analog signals, like those propagated within neurons, and digital signals, the off or on impulses transmitted from one neuron to another. It will not be simply a larger, or even an unbelievably faster, version of today’s familiar computer.
The field of artificial perception already boasts chips developed at the California Institute of Technology that are capable of much of the sensory processing performed just outside the brain by the retina, for example, and by the cochlea, the spiral passage of the inner ear whose hair cells respond to vibrations by sending impulses to the auditory nerve. Now in development as well are chips to simulate some of the functions of the visual cortex others, with some of the memory-storing capacity of the hippocampus, are being scaled up, closer to the dimensions of a living system.
Myth: You Can Train Certain Parts Of The Brain To Improve Their Functioning
Fact: This has been an attractive and sometimes lucrative idea for many entrepreneurs. However, it is not possible to target a specific brain region and teach just to that part of the brain. The brain is highly connected. Neurons in the brain learn remember and forget, but they do not do so in isolation. Skills need to be broken down into their component parts and these parts can be taught. However, we do not totally understand how this learning takes place nor do we know exactly “where” in the brain that learning is stored. Evidence from victims of stroke and head injury show that injury to the brain of one individual may not result in the same loss in the brain of another person . Brains are like fingerprints although there are commonalities, there are differences that make each brain unique.
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The Old Brain: Wired For Survival
The brain stem is the oldest and innermost region of the brain. Its designed to control the most basic functions of life, including breathing, attention, and motor responses . The brain stem begins where the spinal cord enters the skull and forms the medulla, the area of the brain stem that controls heart rate and breathing. In many cases the medulla alone is sufficient to maintain life animals that have the remainder of their brains above the medulla severed are still able to eat, breathe, and even move. The spherical shape above the medulla is the pons, a structure in the brain stem that helps control the movements of the body, playing a particularly important role in balance and walking.
Running through the medulla and the pons is a long, narrow network of neurons known as the reticular formation. The job of the reticular formation is to filter out some of the stimuli that are coming into the brain from the spinal cord and to relay the remainder of the signals to other areas of the brain. The reticular formation also plays important roles in walking, eating, sexual activity, and sleeping. When electrical stimulation is applied to the reticular formation of an animal, it immediately becomes fully awake, and when the reticular formation is severed from the higher brain regions, the animal falls into a deep coma.
What Are The Parts Of The Brain
The brain is made up of three main sections: the forebrain, the midbrain, and the hindbrain.
The forebrain is the largest and most complex part of the brain. It consists of the cerebrum the area with all the folds and grooves typically seen in pictures of the brain as well as some other structures under it.
The cerebrum contains the information that essentially makes us who we are: our intelligence, memory, personality, emotion, speech, and ability to feel and move. Specific areas of the cerebrum are in charge of processing these different types of information. These are called lobes, and there are four of them: the frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital lobes.
The cerebrum has right and left halves, called hemispheres. They’re connected in the middle by a band of nerve fibers that lets them communicate. These halves may look like mirror images of each other, but many scientists believe they have different functions:
- The left side is considered the logical, analytical, objective side.
- The right side is thought to be more intuitive, creative, and subjective.
So when you’re balancing your checkbook, you’re using the left side. When you’re listening to music, you’re using the right side. It’s believed that some people are more “right-brained” or “left-brained” while others are more “whole-brained,” meaning they use both halves of their brain to the same degree.
In the inner part of the forebrain sits the thalamus, hypothalamus, and :
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Functions Of The Cortex
When the German physicists Gustav Fritsch and Eduard Hitzig applied mild electric stimulation to different parts of a dogs cortex, they discovered that they could make different parts of the dogs body move. Furthermore, they discovered an important and unexpected principle of brain activity. They found that stimulating the right side of the brain produced movement in the left side of the dogs body, and vice versa. This finding follows from a general principle about how the brain is structured, called contralateral control, meaning the brain is wired such that in most cases the left hemisphere receives sensations from and controls the right side of the body, and vice versa.
Just as the motor cortex sends out messages to the specific parts of the body, the somatosensory cortex, an area just behind and parallel to the motor cortex at the back of the frontal lobe, receives information from the skins sensory receptors and the movements of different body parts. Again, the more sensitive the body region, the more area is dedicated to it in the sensory cortex. Our sensitive lips, for example, occupy a large area in the sensory cortex, as do our fingers and genitals.
What Happens To Your Brain When You Learn A New Language
In 2013, a group of researchers from the University of Edinburgh published the largest study to date about the correlation between bilingualism and progression of dementia and other cognitive diseases like Alzheimers. The subjects were 648 patients from Hyderabad, the capital city of the state of Telangana, in India. Telugu and Urdu are the predominant languages in that region, where English is also commonly used. Most of the residents of Hyderabad are bilingual, 391 of whom were part of the study. The conclusion was that the bilingual patients had developed dementia, on average, four and a half years later than the monolingual ones, strongly suggesting that bilingualism has a deep impact on neurological structures and processes.
The process of acquiring a second language might be one we dedicate a lot of time and effort to, at school for example, but in some cases it happens naturally . So how can it be that this process, regardless of how it takes place, has such a big impact on the brain?
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