Tuesday, 03 Jul, 2007 Science
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What Keeps Us from Making the Same Mistake All Over Again

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Scientists found that your brain immediately alerts you of avoiding the same mistake thus making you learn faster from incorrect actions.

Researchers from the University of Exeter found that when we make a mistake our brain reacts in just 0,1 seconds in the same situation preventing us from the wrong action again. Earlier several studies proved that we learn better from our mistakes than from the right predictions. It is explained by the fact that when we discover that our suggestion was wrong, our brain is focused to learn the right answer.

Now scientists managed to register the brain response to the incorrect action. Psychologists monitored brain activity with the help of electrophysiological recordings to find the exact time when the mechanism signaling us of mistake starts in.

Participants were given several computer tasks to solve. First, they had to make predictions with the help of instructions given beforehand. Then, the new information was introduced, many respondents gave the wrong answer. That was a stimulus encouraging them to learn avoiding the mistake.

During the experiment it was found that lower temporal area, which is responsible for detecting visual objects of the brain, responded in 0,1 seconds when the image of the previously mistaken guess was presented to the participants.

The discovered mechanism is vital to humans who face a huge variety of situations to make right decisions faster. Once the brain detects the situation that was learned as being a mistake, the signal is immediately sent to prevent the same mistake again.

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