🧠 Carrick Insight: Researchers have revealed that the somatosensory cortex, an area responsible for basic sensory processing, also plays an important role in memory and reward learning.
Reward learning is a type of learning where the brain associates an action with a pleasurable outcome. This could be from associating that next bonus with working hard on the job, or in children receiving more recess time if they behave in the classroom.
A recent study looked at the activity of the somatosensory cortex in mice who had to locate a pole in the dark, then move a lever to receive their reward of water. 🐀 They found that the same dendrites in the somatosensory cortex that were activated from the touch stimulus of the pole were again activated when the mice received the water reward. 💧
This could be HUGE when working with individuals who have trouble with reward learning, a characteristic that is often seen in children with neurodevelopmental disorders. 🧒 Could applying therapies that focus on the somatosensory cortex help these children with learning of reward memory and improve behavior?
For more information on topics like this, check out our updated Neurodevelopmental Disorders series, beginning June 2019.