When you throw a wild pitch or sing a flat note, it could be that your basal ganglia made you do it. This area in the middle of the brain is involved in motor control and learning. And one reason for that errant toss or off-key note may be that your brain prompted you to vary your behavior to help you learn, from trial-and-error, to perform better.

But how does the brain do this, how does it cause you to vary your behavior?

Along with researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research and Duke University, Professor Sarah Woolley investigated this question in songbirds, which learn their songs during development in a manner similar to how humans learn to speak. In particular, songbirds memorize the song of their father or tutor, then practice that song until they can produce a similar song.


Sarah C. Woolley, Raghav Rajan, Mati Joshua, Allison J. Doupe. Emergence of Context-Dependent Variability across a Basal Ganglia Network. Neuron, 2014; 82 (1): 208 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.01.039

Read the rest here:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140408121924.htm

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Thanks for the link.

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