Neural Mechanisms of Sequence Learning
Assistant Publisher, Macmillian Science Communication, Asia-Pacific Office
The ability of an organism to perform a complex activity is often based on the learning of a sequence of simpler tasks. Intellectual skills, such as the ability to speak or to compose a symphony, may be at the top of the hierarchy of these activities. However, creativity and abstract thought are difficult to quantitate. Many motor skills such as writing and playing a sport, however, not only involve learning of sequences but also have the advantage of being simpler to operationalize.
A large number of brain areas are involved in learning complex motor behaviors. We suggest that three areas in primates, the presupplementary motor area (pre-SMA), the supplementary motor area (SMA), and the primary motor area (M1), play prominent and specific roles in motor learning. We aim to develop a better understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying sequence learning and, more specifically, to investigate the roles of these motor areas in this process.
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