Treasure hunting: Traveling to new locations allows the brain to seek ‘rewards’

unnamed file

We are free to wander but usually when we go somewhere it’s for a reason. In a new study, researchers at The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory show that as we pursue life’s prizes a region of the brain tracks our location with an especially strong predilection for the location of the reward. This pragmatic bias of the lateral septum suggests it’s a linchpin in formulating goal-directed behavior.

“It appears that the lateral septum is, in a sense, ‘prioritizing’ reward-related spatial information,” said Hannah Wirtshafter, lead author of the study in eLife and a former graduate student in the MIT lab of senior author Matthew Wilson.

Related article:  Brain confusion: Why it's so difficult to find cures for mental disorders

Though it’s easy for most of us to take the brain’s ability to facilitate navigation for granted, scientists study it for several reasons, Wirtshafter said.

“Elucidating brain mechanisms and circuits involved in navigation, memory and planning may identify processes underlying impaired cognitive function in motor and memory diseases,” she said. “Additionally, knowledge of the principles of goal directed behavior can also be used to model context-dependent brain behavior in machine models to further contribute to artificial intelligence development.”

Read the original post

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
ft covidresponseus feature

Video: Viewpoint: The US wrote the global playbook on the coronavirus and then ignored it

A year ago, the United States was regarded as the country best prepared for a pandemic. Our government had spent ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend