People get better at tasks by practicing as they are aided by memories of how to perform the task and also of the errors made, says a study. Errors not only train the brain to better perform a specific task, but they also teach it how to learn faster from errors.
The brain can generalise from one task to another by keeping a memory of the errors, the findings showed. "In learning a new motor task, two processes happen at once," said Reza Shadmehr, a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the US.
One is the learning of the motor commands in the task, and the other is critiquing the learning, much the way a "coach" behaves. Learning the next similar task goes faster, because the coach knows which errors are most worthy of attention.
"In effect, this second process leaves a memory of the errors that were experienced during the training, so the re-experience of those errors makes the learning go faster," Shadmehr explained.
The study appeared in the journal Science Express.