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Difference Between Expert and Novice Brains Shows Better Ways to Learn

A new study now says that the brain changes when we learn something and that one can scientifically say that a person is an 'expert' by looking at their brain and the neuron activity in it.

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Updated:November 25, 2019, 4:04 PM IST
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Difference Between Expert and Novice Brains Shows Better Ways to Learn
A new study now says that the brain changes when we learn something and that one can scientifically say that a person is an 'expert' by looking at their brain and the neuron activity in it.

A new study now says that the brain changes when we learn something and that one can scientifically say that a person is an 'expert' by looking at their brain and the neuron activity in it.

According to the study conducted by researchers from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), Columbia University, University College London, and Flatiron Institute, a study conducted on mice, neuron activities become more focused as mice get better at performing a trained task. The result of the study was published in Science Daily.

Study authors used data to create models that can inform their understanding of the neuroscience behind the ability to take decisions. Speaking about the same, CSHL Asscoiate Professor Anne Churchland said that they recorded the activity from hundreds of neurons simultaneously and studied what neurons did over learning.

The team, including lead author Farzaneh Najafi, started by training mice on perception-based decision making tasks. They were also given multi-sensory stimuli in forms of clicks and flashes presented together. The mice were supposed to tell study authors that the decision making was happening at a high rate or a low rate by licking one of three water sprouts in front of them. When the mice made the right decision, they were awarded with a treat.

Churchland, one of the senior authors of the study said, "Most decision-making studies focused on the period where the animals are really experts. But we were able to see how they arrive at the state by measuring the neurons in their brain all the way through learning," reported the report. It also added that in all animals, learning occurs gradually over about four weeks.

According to study authors, the neurons became more selective in responding to an activity associated with a particular task and that they also started reacting faster. They further found that when the animals are just beginning to learn, the neurons don't respond until around the time it makes the choice, but as the animal gains expertise, the neurons respond much further in advance.

Churchland added that they learnt a lot about perceptual-decision-making and how long it takes to make certain decisions and what the neural activity would look like during decision-making in the course of their study.

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