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Learning and Memory in Behavioral Neuroscience

Chapter 12, “Learning and Memory,” of Freberg’s “Discovering Behavioral Neuroscience,” provides essential insights on the understanding of brain development and functioning. The key milestones in brain evolution start from those of early animals such as sea anemones. Furthermore, brainy mammals appeared around 360 million years ago, serving as a basis for the modern human brain (Kaas, 2013). Focusing on Aplysia californica, the sea slug, chapter 12, notes several neural mechanisms that allow it to interact with the world. For example, habituation refers to the weakening of brain signals in response to a certain stimulus.

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The mechanism of sensitization, on the contrary, is related to learning, in which one stimulus strengthens the perception of the subsequent one. Classical conditioning includes the binding of a formerly nonaligned stimulus (for example, the sound of ringing) with an unconditional one (for instance, punishment). This unconditioned stimulus is natural and automatically triggers salivation. The concept of operant conditioning refers to the use of corroboration or penalty to influence behavior. In other words, a link is designed between certain behavioral patterns and the consequences of such behavior. In the operant conditioning, human behavior is controlled by the stimuli to which it is sensitive, while the classical conditioning does not imply such stimuli.

Speaking of brain dysfunctions concerning behavioral manifestations, it is possible to note long-term depression (LTD), which means a stable increase or decrease in the synaptic activity of stimulated synapses. The above dysfunction is associated with Hebb’s rule – a synapse strengthens when the postsynaptic neuron fires in terms of cellular basis. Retrograde amnesia, the violation of memory of events that preceded the onset of the disease, is another disorder that usually occurs in response to electroconvulsive shock or injury. The so-called Korsakoff’s syndrome is expressed in a set of disorders characterized by impaired orientation in space and time and the presence of false memories. Information presented in this chapter strengthens my knowledge and helps to understand neurologic mechanisms and associated behavioral patterns.

I Will Never Forget!”

According to the duration of information storage, there are three types of memory: short-term, sensory, and long-term. Any information perceived with the help of the senses penetrates the brain, where it is stored in the mind of sensory memory in different parts of the brain (Vlassova & Pearson, 2013). For example, visual observations are stored in the back of the cerebral cortex. Sensitive memory can span an infinite amount of information, but it is not long. The important facts required to remember, or just interesting, is stored in short-term memory. Information stays there approximately for half a minute as short-term memory holds one or two messages. It is necessary to provide knowledge in parts to enable it to be kept in memory. By the very definition, long-term memory stores information for a long time (Jeneson & Squire, 2012). If it is overloaded or not systematized, there can be problems with the recollection of events and people even in adulthood.

The given exercise shows that it is necessary to train one’s memory to keep it up (factor of activity). Another factor is associated with perception in the process of learning. Some people are viewers, for whom drawings, presentations, and graphics facilitate training. Others are listeners who prefer to perceive information by ears. Students who think in a kinesthetic (sensual) way should act in practice and conduct experiments to remember information.

The question to the class: How does video game playing may affect one’s sensory memory?

Pay Attention!”

Concentration directly impacts one’s ability to learn effectively and achieve amazing results. However, the lack of focus leads to a decrease in the learning activity and memory functioning, short-term memory, and consolidation. According to Freberg (2016), the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that tracks, controls, directs, manages, and focuses one’s actions, is responsible for the so-called executive functions – the ability to control time, judgments, and impulses. In other words, the prefrontal cortex significantly affects a person’s ability to learn and concentrate. Yamamoto (2015) emphasizes the role of declarative memory in learning, claiming that it depends on the integration in brain structures of connections with the medial temporal cortex and diencephalon, the damage of which becomes the cause of its violation. On the contrary, Birch, McGarry, and Kelly (2013) argue that short-term environmental development enhances memory.

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The question to the class: What is the role of concentration in different forms of learning?

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