Scientists discover why we never forget how to ride a bicycle

July 17, 2009,

(PhysOrg.com) -- You never forget how to ride a bicycle - and now a University of Aberdeen led team of neuroscientists has discovered why.

Their research, published this month in Nature Neuroscience, has identified a key nerve cell in the brain that controls the formation of memories for such as riding a bicycle, skiing or eating with chop sticks.

When one acquires a new skill like riding a bicycle, the cerebellum is the part of the brain needed to learn the co-ordinated movement.

The research team, which includes scientists from the Universities of Aberdeen, Rotterdam, London, Turin and New York, has been working to understand the connections between in the cerebellum that enable learning.

They discovered that one particular type of nerve cell -the so called molecular layer interneuron - acts as a "gatekeeper", controlling the that leave the cerebellum. Molecular layer interneurons transform the electrical signals into a language that can be laid down as a memory in other parts of the brain.

Dr Peer Wulff, who led the research in Aberdeen together with Prof. Bill Wisden at the University's Institute of Medical Sciences, said: "What we were interested in was finding out how memories are encoded in the brain. We found that there is a cell which structures the signal output from the cerebellum into a particular code that is engraved as memory for a newly learned motor skill. "

It could pave the way for advancements in prosthetic devices to mimic normal brain functions, which could benefit those who have suffered brain disorders, such as a stroke or multiple sclerosis.

Dr Wulff said: "To understand the way that the normal brain works and processes information helps the development of brain-computer interfaces as prosthetic devices to carry out the natural brain functions missing in patients who have suffered a stroke or have multiple sclerosis.

"Our results are very important for people interested in how the brain processes information and produces and stores memories. One day these findings could be applied to the building of prosthetic devices by other research teams."

Provided by University of Aberdeen (news : web)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Use of electrical brain stimulation to foster creativity has sweeping implications

September 18, 2018
What is creativity, and can it be enhanced—safely—in a person who needs a boost of imagination? Georgetown experts debate the growing use of electrical devices that stimulate brain tissue, and conclude there is potential ...

The brain predicts words before they are pronounced

September 18, 2018
The brain is not only able to finish the sentences of others: A study by the Basque research centre BCBL has shown for the first time that it can also anticipate an auditory stimulus and determine the phonemes and specific ...

Engineers decode conversations in brain's motor cortex

September 18, 2018
How does your brain talk with your arm? The body doesn't use English, or any other spoken language. Biomedical engineers are developing methods for decoding the conversation, by analyzing electrical patterns in the motor ...

Team identifies brain's lymphatic vessels as new avenue to treat multiple sclerosis

September 17, 2018
Lymphatic vessels that clean the brain of harmful material play a crucial role in the development and progression of multiple sclerosis, new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine suggests. The vessels ...

Resynchronizing neurons to erase schizophrenia

September 17, 2018
Schizophrenia, an often severe and disabling psychiatric disorder, affects approximately 1 percent of the world's population. While research over the past few years has suggested that desynchronization of neurons may be the ...

Circuit found for brain's statistical inference about motion

September 17, 2018
As the eye tracks a bird flying past, the muscles that pan the eyeballs to keep the target in focus set their pace not only on the speed they see, but also on a reasonable estimate of the speed they expect from having watched ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.