Difference between revisions of "User:Richard E. Hartman:Courses:Learning and Memory"

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(CLASS 5 (detailed))
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******* amygdala - displayed no impairment (performed at control levels)
******* amygdala - displayed no impairment (performed at control levels)
* removal of the hippocampus soon after birth in rats results in a loss of spatial abilities through adulthood
* removal of the hippocampus soon after birth in rats results in a loss of spatial abilities through adulthood
** this suggests that there is no backup (redundant) system for this type of information processing
** this suggests that there is no backup (redundant) system for this type of information processing
* spatial learning requires only a small portion of functional tissue in the dorsal hippocampus
* spatial learning requires only a small portion of functional tissue in the dorsal hippocampus
===CLASS 6===
===CLASS 6===

Revision as of 14:12, 9 November 2009

Hartman lab banner rat.jpg

LLU PSYC 544: Foundations of Learning and Behavior


Autumn 2009 - 4 credits

  • Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:30-3:20 in CDR 201 (syllabus)


Course description

This class will introduce the major theories, methods, and applications in the science of learning, including simple stimulus learning, complex associative learning, and memory storage/retrieval, with a special emphasis on the biological basis of learning and memory.


  1. ISBN:019514175X [Eichenbaum]


Recommended readings

Be prepared for graduate school.


There will be 3 exams (worth 100 points each) with questions drawn from both the reading assignments and classroom discussions. For each test, the class average will be determined and adjusted to at least 70% (C). For example, if the class average is 65%, 5% will be added to all grades to bring the average up to 70%. Note that the average will never be adjusted down. Also, note that it is possible to end up with a score of higher than 100%. There will be no make-ups after test day. If a test is missed, you will receive a score of 0 for that test. However, there will be an optional comprehensive final exam. Your 3 highest test scores will be used to calculate your grade. Therefore, taking the final exam can only help your grade. Additionally, each student will write a paper on a topic of interest and present a talk on that topic (50 points paper / 5 points talk - details to be presented in class). Finally, 20 points will be assigned for classroom participation (attendance, discourse, not sleeping, etc – especially during the student presentations).

Grading Scale

  • 378-420 90% A
  • 336-377 80% B
  • 294-335 70% C
  • 252-293 60% D
  • 0-251 ouch F

Study guide ("stuff that may be on the test")



  • definitions of "learning" and "memory”
  • relationship between learning and memory
  • biological basis
  • evidence of learning
  • behaviors that may appear to be "learning"
    • Tolman and Honzick (1930) latent learning
  • methods of studying learning / memory
    • behavioral
    • cognitive
    • neuropsychological
  • orienting response
  • habituation / sensitization
    • parametric features of habituation
  • classical (Pavlovian) conditioning
    • associative learning
    • predicting / measuring the relationship between stimuli
      • Rescorla-Wagner model
    • critical features of a classical conditioning experiment
      • CS
      • US
    • extinction
    • spontaneous recovery
    • generalization
    • discrimination
    • the role of contiguity
    • phobias
  • operant / intrumental conditioning
    • associative nature
    • Thorndike and "instrumental" learning
      • law of effect
    • stimulus-response learning
    • Skinner and "operant" learning
    • reinforcers
      • theories of reinforcement
      • brain centers important for "reward"
      • Premack principle
      • biofeedback
      • positive vs. negative reinforcers
      • primary vs. secondary reinforcers
    • punishers
      • positive vs. negative punishment
    • reinforcement schedules
      • continuous / partial
      • interval / ratio
      • interval / fixed
    • shaping
      • chaining
  • similarities and differences between classical and operant conditioning


  • crash course in neurophysiology and neuroplasticity
    • neurotransmitters
    • synaptic relationships between neurons
    • polarized nature of cell membrane
    • post-synaptic potentials
      • excitatory
      • inhibitory
      • characteristics of the post-synaptic potential
      • axonal / dendritic relationships
      • role of the axon hillock
        • ion channels at the hillock
      • action potential characteristics
        • result of an action potential
        • refractory period
  • biological models of learning / memory in the Aplysia snail
    • neuronal circuit for the gill withdrawal reflex
    • habituation
      • behavioral habituation (and dis-habituation) of the reflex
      • presynaptic mechanism
      • postsynaptic mechanism
      • basis of short-term memory (function)
      • basis of long-term memory (structure)
      • basis of "forgetting"
    • sensitization
      • behavioral sensitization of the reflex
      • addition of facilitating interneurons to the circuit
      • presynaptic mechanism
      • postsynaptic mechanism
      • basis of short-term memory (function)
      • basis of long-term memory (structure)
        • prevention of long-term memory formation
    • classical conditioning
      • same circuit as sensitization
        • associative learning due to temporal relationship of the stimuli (“activity dependent”)
        • amplication of presynaptic facilitation
      • “reflexive” nature of classical conditioning
  • overview of cellular processes that alter neuronal function / structure (neuroplasticity)
    • Calcium
    • cAMP
    • CREBs
    • RNA transcription > production of proteins
  • The Hippocampus, NMDA Receptors, and Learning
    • hippocampal formation and association cortex
      • main areas
      • output pathways
      • role of hippocampal circuitry
      • tri-synaptic pathway
      • long-term potentiation of the tri-synaptic pathway
        • role of glutamate and its receptors
          • unique role of NMDA receptors
      • long-term depression


  • “Hebbian” rule
    • synaptic correlation > LTP
    • lack of synaptic correlation > LTD
  • structural changes in dendrites
    • role of dendritic spines
  • upregulation of receptors on dendrite
  • retrograde messengers
  • LTP and LTM
    • hippocampus
    • 1 trial learning
    • long-lasting
    • specific
    • associative
    • LTP and “real learning” use similar biochemical mechanisms
  • NMDA receptors, neuroplasticity, and susceptibility to excitotoxic damage
  • Effects of hippocampal damage in humans
    • patient H.M.
      • brain surgery
      • anterograde amnesia
      • retrograde amnesia
        • lateralization of hippocampal functions
        • damage limited to CA1
        • deficits in specific types of learning / memory
          • types of learning / memory that are spared after bilateral hippocampal damage

CLASS 5 (detailed)

  • memory for context and relations between stimuli - mediated in part by the hippocampal formation
  • memory for simple stimulus-stimulus associations (e.g., simple object discrimination) - mediated by other (more “primitive”?) neural systems
  • Complex vs Simple (explicit vs. implicit, declarative vs. procedural, recognition vs. habit, configural vs. simple)
  • Simple: procedural learning / skills, classical / operant conditioning, non-associative, priming (single presentation of a stimulus facilitates its recall)
  • “Priming” involves activating the necessary perceptual and identification processes involved in information processing before they are actually needed
  • diseases associated w/ procedural learning: Parkinson’s, cerebellar damage
  • Learning how – process by which knowledge is acquired
    • largely independent of conscious awareness
    • Cannot be verbally explained
    • Alterations in the connections between and within related brain structures are likely behind procedural skills
    • Performance of skills is task-specific
    • Improvement in performance or skills is only method of conveyance
    • H.M.’s / others implicit learning / memory is as good as “normal”
      • had no memory of ever performing the task before and required instructions each time he performed the task
  • “Declarative” ~ learning that – largely dependent on conscious awareness
    • (by definition) verbally explained
    • episodic
    • semantic
    • patients w/ damage to the medial temporal lobes have deficiencies with this type of learning
    • Contextual - involves “tying together” relations between many stimuli in the environment
      • Reaux Sham Beaux
  • Adaptive control of thought theory
    • Declarative stage:
      • Learning factual knowledge of the nature of task
    • Transition (Knowledge compilation stage):
      • after additional practice, performance speed increases
      • less conscious “guidance” is required
      • groups of rules / operations are chunked / compiled & stored in LTM
      • performance starts to depend more on LTM than working
      • working memory is now “freed up”
      • increases efficiency of task
    • Procedural stage: With more practice, task is performed almost automatically
      • Major variable – practice (expertise)
      • Optimal learning conditions: Spacing / Generation effects / Practice / Develop strategies
  • studying spatial working memory in the radial arm maze
    • Win-shift paradigm - each identical arm was baited at its end
    • most efficient strategy is to visit each arm only once per trial
    • during each trial, the rat had to remember which arms it had visited based on their relation with extra-maze cues
    • normal rats can learn and retain this strategy almost perfectly
    • bilateral disruption of the main hippocampal input (entorhinal cortex) and output (fimbria-fornix) pathways OR intrinsic hippocampal circuitry - performed at chance levels
    • lesions in other brain areas (cortex, caudate nucleus, amygdala) - no retention deficits
  • studying spatial memory in the Morris water maze
    • hippocampal-damaged rats were profoundly impaired on the relational, spatial-cue-based navigation, but normal during acquisition of the cued condition
  • studying spatial memory with the spatial alternation task
    • rats were trained to find water at the end of one arm of a T-maze
      • forced run - one arm contained water and the other arm was blocked
      • choice run - the opposite arm contained water and either arm could be chosen
        • correct response - choose the arm blocked on the previous forced run
          • only in the context of the previous (forced run) trial could the correct choice be made.
            • damage to bilateral hippocampal OR amygdaloid lesions
              • hippocampus - performed at chance levels
              • amygdala - displayed no impairment (performed at control levels)
  • removal of the hippocampus soon after birth in rats results in a loss of spatial abilities through adulthood
    • this suggests that there is no backup (redundant) system for this type of information processing
  • spatial learning requires only a small portion of functional tissue in the dorsal hippocampus



  • ways to categorize learning and memory
  • stages of "remembering"
  • Nice historical view of memory:
    • primary
    • secondary
  • multistore memory model
    • dual (tri) storage system:
      • sensory
        • capacity
        • duration
        • mechanisms
      • short-term
        • capacity
        • duration
        • mechanisms
      • working memory
        • roles
        • capacity
        • duration
        • mechanisms
        • regions of PFC that control working memory processes
        • central executive and sensory / episodic buffers model
      • incidental learning
      • speed of processing
      • working memory in animal studies


  • encoding memories
    • the distributed cortical engram
    • cognitive model of encoding - schemas
    • auto-associative neural networks
    • things that effect the encoding of memories
    • consolidation in LTM
      • 2 phases
      • role of the hippocampus
        • parahippocampal buffer
        • comparator function
        • recording episodic memories
        • activity during sleep
        • damage leads to lack of consolidation
          • partial vs. total
      • storage "site"
      • hippocampus vs. cortex:
        • capacity
        • plasticity


  • Hippocampus vs. neocortex
    • capacity
    • plasticity speed
    • plasticity “longevity”
  • Interaction of hippocampal networks with cortical networks
  • final repository of a memory
  • LTM organized by “schemas”
  • Initial role of hippocampus
  • memory retrieval
    • characteristics
    • testing effects
    • prospective memory
    • false memories
  • forgetting - possible mechanisms
  • “dissociations” suggest different biological systems
    • double dissociations
    • at least two distinct functional memory systems
      • operate simultaneously and in parallel
      • in each proposed system:
        • a simple yet gradually learned form of memory (e.g., procedural, simple associative)
          • brain areas
        • a more complex but rapidly learned form (e.g., declarative, spatial, explicit, contextual associative)
          • brain areas
    • “Mono-hierarchy” idea
    • model circuit illustrating how sensations may interact with various neural structures to form a memory of episodes and facts
  • Procedural Memory
    • characteristics
    • brain areas
      • motor cortex
      • cerebellum
      • basal ganglia
    • effects of brain damage
  • adaptive control of thought theory

Disability accommodation

If you are registered with the Dean's office for disability accommodation, please see me as soon as possible to discuss any course accommodations that may be necessary. If you have a disability and wish accommodation, please visit the Dean’s Office of your school. See the Accommodation for Disability policy.

Academic integrity policy

Don’t cheat.