The computer simulations showed that the longer reaction time of the middle finger in a multiple choice task is a consequence of the fact that the middle finger is within the inhibition range of the two adjacent fingers. The thumb and little finger on the other hand only receive an inhibitory effect of comparable strength from one adjacent finger each. "In other words, the high level of inhibition received by the nerve cells of the middle fingers mean that it takes longer for the excitement to build up they therefore react more slowly" said Dr. Dinse.
Targeted reduction of the inhibition through learning
From the results of the computer simulation it can be concluded that weaker inhibition from the neighbouring fingers would shorten the reaction time of the middle finger. This would require a so-termed plastic change in the brain a specialty of the Neural Plasticity Lab, which has been studying the development of learning protocols that induce such changes for years. One such protocol is the repeated stimulation of certain nerve cell groups, which the laboratory has already used in many experiments. "If, for example, you stimulate one finger electrically or by means of vibration for two to three hours, then its representation in the brain changes" explained Dr. Dinse. The result is an improvement in the sense of touch and a measurable reduction of the inhibitory processes in this brain area. This also results in the enlargement of the representation of the finger stimulated.
Second experiment confirms the prediction
The Bochum researchers then conducted a second experiment in which the middle finger of the right hand was subjected to such stimulation. The result was a significant shortening of the reaction time of this finger in the selection task. "This finding confirms our prediction" Dr. Dinse summed up. Thus, for the first time, Bochum's
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