London, Sept. 18 (Reuters): Contrary to common belief, it is possible to teach old dogs, owls and perhaps people new tricks as long as it is done slowly.
Scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine in the United States have turned the old adage on its head by showing that owls adapt better when taught in small steps.
They believe their findings, which are published in the science journal Nature today, could help doctors improve techniques used to teach adults who have suffered brain injuries.
“Instead of asking the owls to learn in one large step, we broke the problem down into small steps,” researcher Brie Linkenhoker said in a statement.
They discovered that young owls adapted much better than the older birds because their brains responded differently.
But when the scientists changed the lens on the older owls and shifted their vision in small increments the birds coped better and adjusted almost as quickly as the young owls.