August 5, 2009 | Diane Johnson | Leave a comment Remember when you would fail at something and someone would say "you learn from your mistakes?" Well that's true to a certain extent, but a new study has determined we actually learn more from our successes. The research suggests the brain neurons involved in learning, process information more effectively after a success rather than a failure, which in turn improves our behavior. This study was done with monkeys. The animals were shown pictures and they would have to turn either left or right depending on the picture placed before them. The monkeys would learn by trial-and-error which image was associated with a particular direction and correct choices were rewarded. From this study researchers found that the neurons keep track of recent successes and failures. And those neurons become more efficient and specialized after a correct response. When the monkeys saw success, it was more likely to be followed by another success. This study has contradicted previous studies that have shown we do learn from out mistakes. To be more specific, there are lots of types of learning, and the question is the nature of the mistake? In this study the situation was a reward versus no reward. When the failure leads to a negative consequence rather than just the absence of a positive, then it's a different situation. For most of my life, I thought that the saying "you learn from your mistakes" was just a way to boost your spirits and not make yourself feel like such a loser. I'm glad to know that there is actually some fact behind that statement. However, the idea that you learn from success is encouraging, because the ride and prospect of learning is much more enjoyable with success than failure.