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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Neuroscience of Changing Your Mind

 Bret Stetka
Scientific American
Originally published on December 7, 2017

Here are two excerpts:

Scientists have long accepted that our ability to abruptly stop or modify a planned behavior is controlled via a single region within the brain’s prefrontal cortex, an area involved in planning and other higher mental functions. By studying other parts of the brain in both humans and monkeys, however, a team from Johns Hopkins University has now concluded that last-minute decision-making is a lot more complicated than previously known, involving complex neural coordination among multiple brain areas. The revelations may help scientists unravel certain aspects of addictive behaviors and understand why accidents like falls grow increasingly common as we age, according to the Johns Hopkins team.


Tracking these eye movements and neural action let the researchers resolve the very confusing question of what brain areas are involved in these split-second decisions, says Vanderbilt University neuroscientist Jeffrey Schall, who was not involved in the research. “By combining human functional brain imaging with nonhuman primate neurophysiology, [the investigators] weave together threads of research that have too long been separate strands,” he says. “If we can understand how the brain stops or prevents an action, we may gain ability to enhance that stopping process to afford individuals more control over their choices.”

The article is here.