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Study indicates how we make proper movements
Date:12/18/2008

When you first notice a door handle, your brain has already been hard at work. Your visual system first sees the handle, then it sends information to various parts of the brain, which go on to decipher out the details, such as color and the direction the handle is pointing. As the information about an object is sent further along the various brain pathways, more and more details are noticedin that way, a simple door handle turns into a silver-plated-antique-style-door-handle-facing-right. Information about the handle also reaches the part of your brain responsible for planning movements (known as the pre-motor area), and it comes up with a set of motions, allowing you to turn the handle with your right hand and open the door.

However, this is not necessarily a simple process for the brain. For instance, how do we end up turning the door handle with our right hand, instead of just hitting it with our left? During this analysis, the brain is bombarded with a lot of irrelevant information, so it relies on a control system to filter out unnecessary information. In the visual system, this control mechanism is known as center surround inhibition and it works by activating only the neurons that are required for further action. In other words, if any extra neurons are turned on, this control mechanism will shut them off, so that the brain can focus on the relevant information. Although the center surround inhibition system has been well documented in the visual system, it was not known if this type of control mechanism exists in the motor regions of the brain. Psychologist Daniel Loach from Macquarie University in Sydney and his colleagues conducted a set of experiments to explore inhibitory mechanism in the areas of the brain involved in planning movements.

A group of participants were successively shown two door handles and had to press a left or right button which corresponded to the texture (either wood or metal) of the second handle. Some of the
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Contact: Barbara Isanski
bisanski@psychologicalscience.org
Association for Psychological Science
Source:Eurekalert

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