Questions for ‘Brains may need flexible networks to learn well’


New data suggest that brain cells may learn best when they are able to easily make and break off communications with neighbors — or distant brain regions.


To accompany feature “Brains may need flexible networks to learn well”


Before Reading: 

1.  What is a neuron? Look up this term in a book or on the internet. Draw a picture. How do neurons communicate with each other?

2.  How do you learn best? Do you find it easier to learn when you read something or when you hear a teacher talking about it? 

During Reading: 

1.  What is a synapse?

2.  What does it mean for a brain to have flexible networks?

3.  Based on the article, what is “transfer of learning”?

4.  The hippocampus and ventromedial prefrontal cortex control what types of thinking?

5.  Why do scientists need to watch the brain as it learns?

6.  What is the brain’s outer layer?

7.  Describe three effects of schizophrenia.

8.  What is DXM, and what does it do in the brain?

9.  A neuroscientist submitted to three brain scans a week for a year. When was his brain most flexible? When was it least flexible?

After Reading: 

1.  Draw a picture of the brain. Locate each of the regions mentioned in the article (use a reference drawing from a book or the internet to aid you in finding the regions). Which ones are connected?

2.  Researchers are investigating ways of increasing brain flexibility with drugs. Would it be a good idea to take a drug to increase your brain flexibility? Who might such drugs benefit? Use evidence from the story to support your answer.