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Rats and men: Study finds parallels in neural processing of ‘adaptive control’

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Posted October 21, 2013

People and rats may think alike when they’ve made a mistake and are trying to adjust their thinking.

 
Rats! Humans and rodents process their mistakes
Low-frequency brainwaves in the human medial frontal cortex change from low-power (blue) to high-power (red-orange) after the recognition of a mistake. Credit: Frank Lab/Brown University
 

That’s the conclusion of a study published online Oct. 20 in Nature Neurosciencethat tracked specific similarities in how human and rodent subjects adapted to errors as they performed a simple time estimation task. When members of either species made a mistake in the trials, electrode recordings showed that they employed low-frequency brainwaves in the medial frontal cortex (MFC) of the brain to synchronize neurons in their motor cortex. That action correlated with subsequent performance improvements on the task.

“These findings suggest that neuronal activity in the MFC encodes information that is involved in monitoring performance and could influence the control of response adjustments by the motor cortex,” wrote the authors, who performed the research at Brown University and Yale University.

The importance of the findings extends beyond a basic understanding of cognition, because they suggest that rat models could be a useful analog for humans in studies of how such “adaptive control” neural mechanics are compromised in psychiatric diseases.

Read more at: MedicalXpress

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