Neuroscience education, learning and research

Have posted some resources on Neuroscience in our ConnectivismEducationLearning Ning Community




I found this article on neuroeconomics of interests.

The article has reviewed two general ways in which the neuroeconomic endeavor can make important contributions to research on decision-making – firstly, the incorporation into neuroscience and psychology of the formal, rigorous economic modeling approach, and secondly, the awareness within the economic community of the evidence for multiple systems involved in decision-making.

One current challenge is to ensure that researchers are communicating productively; often, terms such as ‘choice’, ‘judgment’ and ‘decision’ are used in different ways by different fields.  A useful endeavour would be to arrive at a common language, and perhaps a common set of ‘decision tasks’, to ensure that the hitherto heartening level of collaboration across these diverse fields continue in a productive fashion.

With increasing collaboration among researchers from across the fields of interest, it also seems certain that other interesting avenues of research will open up in the future.

Some of the questions that would be of interest in our decision making include:

How do systems that seem to be focused on immediate decisions and actions interact with systems involved in longer term planning (e.g. making a career decision)?

Under what circumstances do these various systems cooperate or compete?  When there is competition, how and where is it adjudicated?

Psychologists, neuroscientists and behavioural economists all seem to agree that various automatic forms of behavior (including emotional responses) reflect the operation of a  multiplicity of mechanisms.  However, do higher-level deliberate processes rely similarly on multiple mechanisms, or a single, more tightly integrated (unitary) set of mechanisms?

Connectivism and Mirror Neurons

Here is an extract on Mirro Neurons.

A mirror neuron is a neuron which fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another animal (especially by another animal of the same species).[1] Thus, the neuron “mirrors” the behavior of another animal, as though the observer were itself acting. These neurons have been directly observed in primates, and are believed to exist in humans and other species including birds. In humans, brain activity consistent with mirror neurons has been found in the premotor cortex and the inferior parietal cortex.

Some scientists consider mirror neurons one of the most important findings of neuroscience in the last decade. Among them is V.S. Ramachandran,[2] who believes they might be very important in imitation and language acquisition. However, despite the popularity of this field, to date no plausible neural or computational models have been put forward to describe how mirror neuron activity supports cognitive functions such as imitation.[3]

neonatal (newborn) macaque imitating facial expressions

In humans

Diagram of the brain, showing the locations of the frontal and parietal lobes of the cerebrum, viewed from the left. The inferior frontal lobe is the lower part of the blue area, and the superior parietal lobe is the upper part of the yellow area.

It is not normally possible to study single neurons in the human brain, so scientists cannot be certain that humans have mirror neurons. However, the results of brain imaging experiments using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have shown that the human inferior frontal cortex and superior parietal lobe is active when the person performs an action and also when the person sees another individual performing an action. It has been suggested that these brain regions contain mirror neurons, and they have been defined as the human mirror neuron system.[21]. However, a recent study shows that the signal measured by fMRI from human ‘mirror neuron regions’ is not necessarily generated by true mirror neurons (that is, individual neurons which respond only to the same action in self and other) [22]. For this reason, research in humans focuses on the “mirror neuron system” rather than “mirror neurons”.
Mirror neurons have been said to have the potential to provide a mechanism for action understanding, imitation learning, and the simulation of other people’s behaviour.[46]. This hypothesis is supported by some cytoarchitectonic homologies between monkey premotor area F5 and human Broca’s area [47].

Would this shed light on how learning occurs amongst human under Connectivism?

Refer to this video posted in 2010.