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Learning faster with neurodegenerative disease
Date:9/14/2012

arning, in some cases it could lead to the paradoxical effect: better learning efficiency despite degeneration of the nerve cells.

Detecting differences in brightness under aggravated conditions

In each experimental run, the subjects saw two consecutive small bars on a computer screen that either had the same or different brightness. Sometimes, however, not only the brightness changed from bar one to bar two, but also the orientation of the bar (vertical or horizontal). "Normally, the distraction stimulus, i.e. the change in orientation, draws all the attention" Christian Beste explains. "But after the passive training with the visual stimuli, the distraction stimulus has no effect at all." The shift of attention from the non-relevant to the relevant properties of the stimulus was also visible in the electroencephalogram (EEG) in brain areas for early visual processing.

Better performance with stronger mutation

In Huntington's disease, a short segment of a gene is repeated. The number of repetitions determines when the disease breaks out. In the present study, a greater number of repetitions was, however, also associated with higher learning efficiency. "This shows that neurodegenerative changes can cause paradoxical effects" says Christian Beste. "The everyday view that neurodegenerative changes fundamentally entail deterioration of various functions can no longer be maintained in this dogmatic form."


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Contact: Dr. Christian Beste
Christian.Beste@rub.de
49-234-322-4323
Ruhr-University Bochum
Source:Eurekalert

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