8. Learning and Memory Outline

8. Learning and Memory Outline - Learning and Memory I...

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1 Dr. C.S. Leonard I. Goals A. To understand the organization of learning and memory processes. B. To understand some of the brain area and circuits involved with memory. C. To understand aspects of synaptic plasticity which may underlie information storage in the CNS. II. Behavioral definitions of learning and memory. A. Learning refers to the processes by which new information is acquired by an organism and memory refers to the processes by which this information is stored and retrieved. Psychologists have characterized simple types of learning into non-associative and associative forms. In non-associative learning, an organism is exposed to a stimulus one or more times and alters its behavior on the basis of that stimulus. Examples of non-associative learning are habituation and sensitization. Habituation is the process by which a response to a stimulus diminishes as the stimulus is repeated. A classic example of habituation is the diminution of the startle response following the repeated presentation of a loud noise. The survival value of this is apparent to anyone living in a noisy neighborhood. Sensitization is the enhancement of behavioral responses to many stimuli after the presentation of a strong or noxious stimulus. These forms of "learning" are simple and evolutionarily primitive. Thus, investigations using invertebrates, which have simpler and more accessible nervous systems, has been very useful in identifying candidate neural mechanisms for these types of learning. In associative learning, an organism is exposed to more than one stimulus and its behavior is modified on the basis of the relation between stimuli. Both Classical (Pavlovian) conditioning and operant conditioning fall into this category. In associative learning the temporal relation between the stimuli are important for modifying the behavior while in non- associating learning there is no requirement for stimuli to have a temporal relation. These categories define learning on the basis of the stimuli and resulting behavior. Therefore, learning of these types can be readily studied in non-humans. B. Declarative and procedural memory An alternative scheme, which is useful in the discussion of human memory, distinguishes memory on the basis of the type of things remembered.
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2 Declarative memory is the type of memory we commonly refer to in conversation as "memory". It is the memory for people, conversations, words and their meanings. Procedural memory is the type of memory associated with tasks and skills (eg. learning to ride a bicycle, drive a car, play a musical instrument). In addition, classical conditioning falls within this category. The recall of this type of memory is utilized without conscious effort. III.
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8. Learning and Memory Outline - Learning and Memory I...

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