Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) revealed how our brain responds to surprising events. The study is published in the journal Nature.
For the study, the researchers trained mice to respond to high-frequency and low-frequency tones. The subject animals were taught to push a lever on hearing high-frequency notes; if they followed instructions, they were rewarded with water.
They were trained to pause on hearing low-frequency noises and if they continued—they were punished with an unpleasant puff of air. Then, the researchers inhibited the activity of the locus coeruleus of the mice’s brains.
The results revealed that the brain releases a burst of noradrenaline to help the brain register and deal with unexpected events. Noradrenaline is a neuromodulator produced by a structure deep in the brain called the locus coeruleus and it provides for brain-wide state regulation. It helps us regulate our behavior and motor function according to environmental changes.
The study also found that noradrenaline promotes taking a chance on getting a reward in situations where the payoff is uncertain. It also helps the brain learn from surprising outcomes.
One of the lead researchers, Mriganka Sur, elaborated: “The surprise-encoding function of the locus coeruleus seems to be much more widespread in the brain, and that may make sense because everything we do is moderated by surprise.”
To Know More You May Refer To
Breton-Provencher V, Drummond GT, Feng J, Li Y, Sur M. Spatiotemporal dynamics of noradrenaline during learned behaviour. Nature. 2022 Jun 1. doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-04782-2. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35650441.