[Source: Medical News Today]
In life, many tasks have a context that dictates the right actions, so when people learn to do something new, they’ll often infer cues of context and rules. In a new study, Brown University brain scientists took advantage of that tendency to track the emergence of such rule structures in the frontal cortex – even when such structure was not necessary or even helpful to learn – and to predict from EEG readings how people would apply them to learn new tasks speedily.
Context and rule structures are everywhere. They allow an iPhone user who switches to an Android phone, for example, to reason that dimming the screen would involve finding a “settings” icon that will probably lead to a slider control for “brightness.” But when the context changes, inflexible generalization can lead a person temporarily astray – like a small-town tourist who greets strangers on the streets of New York City. In some developmental learning disabilities, the whole process of inferring abstract structures may be impaired.