Carnegie Mellon University
October 25, 2017

Insights Into Skill Learning

Skill learning is a critical aspect of our everyday lives.  Whether it be a child learning how to use a fork, or a pianist learning to play a new piece, skills are acquired through an initial learning stage, where behavior is highly sensitive to feedback, and a late mastery phase, where behavior becomes automatic. 

In an article published in the October issue of Neuron, researchers at the NIH use advanced calcium imaging techniques to study the neural circuits mechanisms underlying skill learning.

Aryn H. Gittis, assistant professor of biological sciences, together with her student Victoria L. Corbit and collaborator Susanne E. Ahmari (University of Pittsburgh) provided a commentary on the article’s importance to neuroscience, specifically to motor learning. 

“The work by Kupferschmidt and colleagues provides novel insights into the function of brain circuits that connect neurons involved in motor planning with those involved in motor actions,” said Gittis. “This study provides new insights into the dynamics of how these circuits change with experience.”

Corbit VL, Ahmari SE, Gittis AH. A Corticostriatal Balancing Act Supports Skill Learning. Neuron. 2017 Oct 11;96(2):253-255. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2017.09.046. PMID: 29024650.