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Adaptive Brain Lab


When immersed in a new environment (e.g. navigating a new city or being surrounded by speakers of an unknown language) we are challenged to make sense of an initially incomprehensible stream of events. At first, it seems like a befuddling cacophony that leaves us completely unprepared for what will happen next. And yet, quite rapidly, the brain finds structure and meaning in the incoming signals, helping us to predict and prepare ourselves for future actions. We have little understanding of how the brain achieves this. Here, we propose to study participants’ ability to learn different types of structure (i.e. regular patterns in clutter or sequences). Using sophisticated algorithms, we will track participants’ ability to extract structure during training. Our goal is to test how these changes in behaviour relate to underlying brain changes. We will use cutting-edge brain imaging methods, to provide complementary evidence for the brain mechanisms that support structure learning. We will test how different brain circuits: i) specialise to support learning of spatial vs. temporal structures, ii) interact to support our ability to generalise knowledge about structure to new contexts. In the longer term, harnessing the brain’s capacity for learning has potential implications for boosting lifelong training.