Washington, July 17 (IANS) You can teach an old dog or a human new tricks — provided you are prepared to spare the time and do all the hard work before he or she gets it right.
This is the finding by Hans Schroder and colleagues from Michigan State University, based on 67 undergraduates who took part in the study. It shows that when rules change, our attempts to control our actions are accompanied by a loss of attention to detail.
“Switching the rules we use to perform a task makes us less aware of our mistakes. We therefore have a harder time learning from them. That’s because switching tasks is mentally taxing and costly, which leads us to pay less attention to the detail and therefore make more mistakes,” said Schroder.
In order to adapt to changing conditions, humans need to be able to modify their behaviour successfully, the journal Cognitive, Affective & Behavioural Neuroscience reports.
Overriding the rules we adhere to on a daily basis requires substantial attention and effort, and we do not always get it right the first time, according to a Michigan statement.
When we switch between two or more tasks, we are slower and more likely to commit errors, which suggests switching tasks is a costly process. This may explain why it is so hard to learn from our mistakes when rules change.