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VWN Printer Friendly News: New evidence that computers change the way we learn

 New evidence that computers change the way we learn
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Date posted: 12/01/2014
Posted by: Site Administration
This story is from the category
Augmenting Organics

People who use computers regularly are constantly mapping the movements of their hand and computer mouse to the cursor on the screen. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on December 19 have shown that all that pointing and clicking (the average computer user performs an impressive 7,400 mouse clicks per week) changes the way the brain generalizes movements.

"Computers produce this problem that screens are of different sizes and mice have different gains," says Konrad Kording of Northwestern University and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. "We want to quickly learn about these so that we do not need to relearn all possible movements once we switch to a new computer. If you have broad generalization, then you need to move the mouse just once, and there you are calibrated."

And indeed, their studies found that Chinese migrant workers accustomed to using computers made broader generalizations when it comes to movement learning than a group of age- and education-matched migrant workers who had never used a computer before. While both computer users and non-users learned equally quickly how to move a cursor while their hand was hidden from view, computer-experienced individuals more readily generalized what they learned about movement of the cursor in one direction to movements made in other directions.

To get to the bottom of that difference, the researchers studied another group of 10 people unfamiliar with computers both before and after they spent 2 weeks playing computer games that required intensive mouse use for 2 hours each day. That two weeks of experience was enough to convert the generalization patterns of those computer-na´ve individuals to that of regular computer users, the researchers report.

The findings show that computer use not only changes our lifestyle but also fundamentally affects the neural representation of our movements, the researchers say.

See the full Story via external site: www.eurekalert.org