Learn from your mistakes

Electroencephalography test shows we learning from mistakes

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Everyone makes mistakes. It's completely natural, but many people will try to avoid making the same mistake twice. It just takes a little will power to get your brain in motion.

Researchers may have found that people who try to avoid making similar mistakes have different brain responses.

"Believe in yourself and let your brain do the rest."

Lead researcher, Jason Moser, Ph.D., an assistant professor of clinical psychology from Michigan State University, and team found evidence that suggests people have brain responses that might be able to pick up mistakes faster if they believe they can learn from their mistakes.

Participants were asked to wear a cap that would be able to pick up electroencephalography (EEG) signals, also known as brain waves. They wore these caps while researchers asked them to identify the middle letter in a five-letter series like "MMMMM" or "NNMNN".

After the experiment was done, researchers asked the same participants whether they believed they could learn from their mistakes.

The researchers found the brain makes two signals. The first response was termed the "oh crap response" where the brain realizes something is wrong and the second response indicates the person is aware of the error and is trying to make it right.

People who thought they could learn from their mistakes did better at correcting their mistake and they also had a stronger second signal. Moser believes the second signal is the one that tells the person to pay more attention so that they can make it right.

Training programs can be made for students and workers to help them learn from their mistakes and even try harder and put more effort into correcting their wrong, Moses says.

The research will be published Psychological Science.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 4, 2011
Last Updated:
October 4, 2011