Big brain evolution:learning uses specific actions of brain (Evolution)

by David Turell @, Thursday, February 22, 2018, 00:18 (295 days ago) @ David Turell

Here is a study looking at areas of the brain that are used in learning. The s/s/c doesn't interface with the brain in an amorphous way. It interlocks with different areas for different functions. These can act as systems:

"A new study by Brown University researchers shows that two different brain systems work cooperatively as people learn.

"The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focused on the interplay of two very different modes of learning a new task: reinforcement learning and working memory. Reinforcement learning is an "under-the-hood" process in which people gradually learn which actions to take by processing rewards and punishments at the neural level, and then choosing the one that works best on average—even if the person is not aware of it. In contrast, working memory involves keeping previous actions and their outcomes in mind to more rapidly and flexibly improve performance.


"In order to distinguish the contributions from reinforcement learning and working memory, the researchers set up problems with different numbers of symbols, ranging from two to six, and participants had to learn which button to press for each of them. Generally, people can only hold three or four items in working memory at a time, and only for short periods of time. So when the number of symbols or the delay increases, the contribution of working memory to the learning process should diminish.


"As the participants performed the tasks, an EEG cap recorded signals from the brain, and the authors applied statistical methods to extract those signals related to one learning system or the other.

"The study showed that when memory demands were high, the signals in the brain correlated to reinforcement learning actually got stronger. In other words, when the working memory system was overtaxed, the reinforcement learning system became more important in the learning process. In contrast, when participants could hold information in mind, signals associated with reinforcement learning were weaker, suggesting an increased role for working memory.
The researchers also found that they could decode from the brain signals in a particular trial whether information was likely to be in memory or not. That too traded off with the neural marker of reinforcement learning."

Comment: I present this to show the illustrations which present different areas of the brain in the study the the s/s/c must interact with. The s/s/c uses the brain as a tool.

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