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Study: Some Learn Better From Mistakes

EAST LANSING, Mich., Oct. 3 (UPI) — People who think they can learn from their mistakes have a different brain reaction to errors than those who don’t think they can, U.S. researchers say.

The study by Michigan State University researchers suggests a fundamental, hard-wired difference between these two groups, a university release reported Monday.

“This finding is exciting in that it suggests people who think they can learn from mistakes have brains that are more tuned to pick up on mistakes very quickly,” MSU psychology Professor Jason Moser said.

In the experiment, the brain activity of participants was monitored as they were asked to identify the middle letter of a five-letter series like “MMMMM” or “NNMNN.”

“It’s a pretty simple task, doing the same thing over and over, but the mind can’t help it; it just kind of zones out from time to time,” Moser said.

Brain activity showed when a mistake was made, the brain makes two quick signals — the first indicating a mistake has been made, and the second indicating the person is consciously aware of the mistake and is trying to correct the error.

People who told the researchers they believed they could learn from their mistakes did better after making a mistake, and their brains reacted differently, producing a bigger second signal — the one that says “I see that I’ve made a mistake, so I should pay more attention,” Moser said.

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