Navigation Links
University of Pennsylvania researchers find that the unexpected is a key to human learning
Date:3/13/2009

PHILADELPHIA The human brain's sensitivity to unexpected outcomes plays a fundamental role in the ability to adapt and learn new behaviors, according to a new study by a team of psychologists and neuroscientists from the University of Pennsylvania.

Using a computer-based card game and microelectrodes to observe neuronal activity of the brain, the Penn study, published this week in the journal Science, suggests that neurons in the human substantia nigra, or SN, play a central role in reward-based learning, modulating learning based on the discrepancy between the expected and the realized outcome.

"This is the first study to directly record neural activity underlying this learning process in humans, confirming the hypothesized role of the basal ganglia, which includes the SN, in models of reinforcement including learning, addiction and other disorders involving reward-seeking behavior," said lead author Kareem Zaghloul, postdoctoral fellow in neurosurgery at Penn's School off Medicine. "By responding to unexpected financial rewards, these cells encode information that seems to help participants maximize reward in the probabilistic learning task."

Learning, previously studied in animal models, seems to occur when dopaminergic neurons, which drive a larger basal ganglia circuit, are activated in response to unexpected rewards and depressed after the unexpected omission of reward. Put simply, a lucky win seems to be retained better than a probable loss.

Similar to an economic theory, where efficient markets respond to unexpected events and expected events have no effect, we found that the dopaminergic system of the human brain seems to be wired in a similar rational manner -- tuned to learn whenever anything unexpected happens but not when things are predictable," said Michael J. Kahana, senior author and professor of psychology at Penn's School of Arts and Sciences.

Zaghloul worked with Kahana and Gordon Baltuch, associate professor of neurosurgery, in a unique collaboration among departments of psychology, neurosurgery and bioengineering. They used microelectrode recordings obtained during deep brain stimulation surgery of Parkinson's patients to study neuronal activity in the SN, the midbrain structure that plays an important role in movement, as well as reward and addiction. Patients with Parkinson's disease show impaired learning from both positive and negative feedback in cognitive tasks due to the degenerative nature of their disease and the decreased number of dopaminergic neurons.

The recordings were analyzed to determine whether responses were affected by reward expectation. Participants were asked to choose between red and blue decks of cards presented on a computer screen, one of which carried a higher probability of yielding a financial reward than the other. If the draw of a card yielded a reward, a stack of gold coins was displayed along with an audible ring of a cash register and a counter showing accumulated virtual earnings. If the draw did not yield a reward or if no choice was made, the screen turned blank and participants heard a buzz.

"This new way to measure dopaminergic neuron activity has helped us gain a greater understanding of fundamental cognitive activity," said Baltuch, director of the Penn Medicine Center for Functional and Restorative Neurosurgery.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jordan Reese
jreese@upenn.edu
215-573-6604
University of Pennsylvania
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. NorthShore University HealthSystem Launches Diabetes Outreach Program for Lake County's Medically Underserved
2. Dallas To Host Intensive Norvax University Insurance Agent Sales Training and Web Marketing Conference on March 26
3. University of Maryland Business School Continues Executive Education Leadership With Maryland State Medical Society Partnership
4. Hebrew University scientist develop technique for eliminating reblockage of arteries
5. NorthShore University HealthSystem Only Hospital in the Region to Use Incisionless Procedure to Reduce Weight Regain
6. New Tel Aviv University research links diabetes to cognitive deterioration
7. The Columbia University Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology is Happy to Announce That Charles S. Kleinman, M.D., Will Begin Seeing Patients at Columbia Eastside
8. University of Kansas research finds human emotions hold sway over physical health worldwide
9. Preventing a second stroke is focus of study at Rush University Medical Center
10. Sisters of Charity Health System & University Hospitals Announce New Agreement for Jointly Owned Hospitals
11. University of the Rockies Faculty and Students Travel to China to Share Western Philosophy
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/2/2016)... ... May 02, 2016 , ... The 2016 World Ultimate & Guts Championship (WUGC) Mixed ... Manhattan College, made the cut. The WUGC is being held in London, England this year ... gold in the men’s division, another gold in the women’s masters division, and a silver ...
(Date:5/2/2016)... Boston, MA (PRWEB) , ... May 02, 2016 , ... ... and tips when trying to conceive. , “If you are ready to ... Dr. Mache Seibel. “My book, HealthChequesTM: Journal Babies is your Personal Conception & ...
(Date:5/2/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... May 02, 2016 , ... ... division of Permobil, recently completed two groundbreaking studies that determined that the adjustability ... – are critical in the prevention of pressure injuries, which are now referred ...
(Date:5/2/2016)... ... , ... Atlantic Information Services, Inc. (AIS) is pleased to announce its upcoming ... Pharma Landscape .” CMS recently proposed a test of alternate payment models for Medicare ... care provided to beneficiaries. The webinar will review the details of this model, how ...
(Date:5/2/2016)... ... May 02, 2016 , ... The Evolve Paddle Board Company- which specializes ... today the outcome of their partnership with Yoloha Yoga- producers of high quality cork ... , SUP yoga has seen a dramatic rise in popularity throughout the last few ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:4/28/2016)... Research and Markets has announced the addition ... report to their offering.      (Logo: ... plastic surgery products market is expected to grow at ... ,The growing adoption of laser in aesthetics is another ... Lasers are used to treat a broad range of ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... , April 28, 2016 ... consumer insights on healthcare, announced today that it has ... report Cool Vendor in Life Sciences, 2016, ... 15, 2016.  The report focuses on life-science- oriented analytics, ... insight from patients and doctors, confirm medication ingestion, and ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... April 28, 2016   Acsis , a leading ... leading IT market research and advisory firm IDC has ... IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Pharmaceutical Track and Trace Software 2016 ... provides an assessment of the capabilities and business strategies ... software market. Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160427/360791LOGO ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: