Neural correlates associated with novices correcting errors in electricity and mechanics

Nenciovici, L., Brault Foisy, L.-M., Allaire-Duquette, G., Potvin, P., Riopel, M., & Masson, S. (2018). Neural Correlates Associated With Novices Correcting Errors in Electricity and Mechanics. Mind, Brain, and Education, 12(3), 120-139. doi:10.1111/mbe.12183

Abstract: Learning counterintuitive scientific concepts can be difficult for students because they often have misconceptions about natural phenomena that lead them to commit errors. Recent studies showed that students with advanced scientific training recruit brain regions associ- ated with inhibitory control and memory retrieval to avoid committing errors for questions related to counterintuitive scientific concepts. However, the brain mechanisms used by novices in sciences to overcome errors are still unknown. In this study, novices in electricity and mechanics answered a scientific task in an functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner before and after having corrected their errors. Results show that rostrofrontal and parietal brain areas were more activated after correcting errors than before. These findings suggest that error-correction mech- anisms of novices, induced by presenting to learners the correct answers at the very beginning of their learning pro- cess, are associated with memory retrieval but not inhibitory control.