While most people need peace and quiet to cram for a test, the brain itself may need noise to learn, a recent MIT study suggests. In experiments with monkeys, the researchers found that neural activities in the brain gradually change, even when nothing new is being learned. Challenging the monkeys to adjust their task triggered systematic changes in their neural activities on top of this background “noise.”
The researchers said their findings suggest a new theory of how the brain learns.
“What surprised us most was that the neural representation of movement seems to change even when behavior doesn’t seem to change at all,” said Sebastian Seung, professor of physics and computational neuroscience and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. “This was a surprising degree of instability in the brain’s representation of the world.”
[Via paid content]
Frank Wilson is a retired teacher with over 30 years of combined experience in the education, small business technology, and real estate business. He now blogs as a hobby and spends most days tinkering with old computers. Wilson is passionate about tech, enjoys fishing, and loves drinking beer.