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Where do learned reactions fit in the picture of the brain?

  1. Mar 31, 2012 #1
    That is, conscious decisions are said to be regulated by the prefrontal cortex, whereas inherited reactions (fear of snakes, etc.) are more regulated by the hypothalamus and the amygdala. (Yes, I am aware that this is something of a simplification, but this is valid enough for my question, I believe.) Learned reactions (how to react to steer a bicycle, etc.), which are learned by conscious decision but can act just like an inherited reaction, are somewhere in-between. So which part of the brain regulates them?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 31, 2012 #2


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    Simple answer is basal ganglia.

    More complicated answer is that the basal ganglia works in concert with cortex (and thalamus, and cerebellum, etc). When you are first learning skills in the spotlight of attention, your whole brain has to find out how to do it. But as action becomes a habit, the basal ganglia begins just to emit the learnt action in response to releasing cues.

    So rather than focusing too much on the location of functions, think about it more as a shift in processing style from holistic and tentative to the reflexive emitting of a remembered response.
  4. Mar 31, 2012 #3
    Thank you very much for this answer, apeiron.
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