Learning and the Human Brain

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  • Created by: The Shrew
  • Created on: 11-01-16 15:13
3 types of learning
Language skills, motor skills, perceptual learning
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4 contributing factors
biological, social, cognitive, cultural
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Mirror neurones
Learning through imitation- transformation of seen action into identical motor action
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First identified
monkeys in the 90s
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Found in
premotor cortex
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Fire when
We perform specific goal-directed action, when we observe other performing similar action, when we experience emotion or see someone in pain
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Singer et al
Functional imaging- ps experience pain, then told loved one was experiencing pain in both conditions the bilateral anterior insula, rastral anterior cingulate cortex, brainstem and cerebellum were activated
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AI and ACC correlate with
individual empathy scores
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Mental rehearsal
activates mirror neurone system- linked to motor neurone required to perform fine tuned motor skills
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Cortex organisation
Outer layer of brain organised into 4 different regions- conciousness, motor, speech, vision
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Arithmatic fMRI study
13 ps trained on 18 complex multiplication problems- left hemisphere dominant when tested on both trained and untrained problems/ frontal regions for untrained- higher cognitive demand
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Transfer learned material
fast aquisition in arithmetic associated with decreasing activation in frontal and parietal areas and increase in activation in the angular gyrus- switch from calculation to memory
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Age dependent
children vs adults learning algebra- same regions and reduction in prefrontal cortex/ children- produced decrease in area used for mentally holding image of equation- more plastic, change more
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Yang et al
39 English speakers, 6 weeks, half learned Chinese vocab- more successful at attaining info and more connected brain network
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Structural changes 1960s
profound changes in gross measures of brain morphology in rats/ brain weight and cortical thickness/ modifications to synaptic density, neural and glial cell size and dendritic branches
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Grey matter
component of central nervous system, consist of neuronal cell bodies, neuronal cell bodies, neuropil, glial cells, synapses and capillaries
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White matter
paler tissue of brain and spinal chord- consists of nerve fibres with their myelin sheaths
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can increase and decrease number of neurones
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changes in areas for processing and storage of complex visual motion
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Stimulus dependent alteration to macroscopic function contradicts
view that cortical plasticity is associated with functional rather than anatomical changes
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More grey matter in
occipital and parietal lobes indicating secondary visual cortex
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Correlation between
grey matter density and performance, visual motion perception and hand eye coordination, experience and structural change
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spatial memory and navigation- small mammals and birds that need spatial memory= larger hippocampal volume/ some species- hippocampus increases in seasons of high demands
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Taxi drivers
larger hippocampi
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Rapid change
motor skill learning- increase in synapse number and glial cell volume in corebellal cortex after 10 days training
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Diffusion MRI
thermodynamic effects molecules move in brain diffusion- apply controlled gradient magnetic fields- amplitude and direction of diffusion can be quantified- none invasive biological marker enables differentiation of tissue
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2 types of diffusion
Isotropic diffusion- all directions equally strong, cerebral spinal fluid/ Anisotropic diffusion- one direction stronger than the other
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Diffusion MRI example
Car racing- one group same routes/ other different routes/ control- learning group= decrease in mean diffusion of hippocampi and increase in tissue density in hippocampi
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Rat study
24 rats- one group water maze plus control groups- decrease in mean diffusion of learning group
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Cell staining methods
hippocampus of rats after spatial learning tasks- stained cells enlarged/ significant morphometric differences in cells and increase in immune-reactivity/ increase in synaptic vesticles and astrocyte activation
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Musicians good model for neuroplasticity because
heterogeneous group, motor and perceptual training, numerous brain areas
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ps trained in novel music task- play 3 polyrhythms, ps improve on task, percentage change in mean diffusivity for hippocampus and putamen/ percentage change negatively correlated with change in right hemisphere/ similar areas activated for language
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Sagi and Tavor et al
Spatial learning and memory task- microstructional changes of limbic system structures were significant after only 2 hours of training
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4 contributing factors


biological, social, cognitive, cultural

Card 3


Mirror neurones


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First identified


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Card 5


Found in


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