Learning and Memory Presentation

Slide 3 Notes

Learning and memory are deeply connected. There can be no learning without memory (Wickens, 2005). Memory is derived exclusively from learning experiences. Without learning and memory we would be mentally and psychologically dead. The brain is able to acquire complex, new information and store the memory within its vast arrays of neurons. Memories are stored much like file cabinets in a computer, for later retrieval. In humans memory could be lost if either neurons or the hippocampus are affected by illness or accident.  

Slide 4 Notes

When the gill of the Aplysis is stimulated the creator reacts by withdrawing the gill into a protective cavity. The gill-withdrawal reflex of the Aplysis involves 24 sensory neurons connected to 6 motor neurons through a set of internerons and synapses. Habituation is the psychological theory that with repeated stimulation a certain behavior decreases, due to lack of sensitivity. In the case of the Aplysis, repeated stimulation caused a decrease of calcium ions in axon terminal of the sensory neurons. This in turn brought about a decrease of glutamate in the synapsis, which decreased the number of action potentials associated with external stimulation. In this way learning takes place at a neuro-chemical level.  

Slide 5 Notes

There are various structures of the brain in neuroanatomy that play a very important role with memory function. Each structure has its own function. The temporolimbic structure includes the rhinal cortex, hippocampus and amygdala (Wickens, 2005). The main function of the hippocampus is to encode information into short-term memory and its other function is the retrieval of information from long-term memory. The hippocampus has an “R” side which deals with sensory and visual information and an “L” side which is the source for verbal information. The structure involved in the modulation of memory consolidation is the amygdala. Following any event dealing with learning, the long-term memory for that particular event is not instantly formed. Instead, information regarding the event is gradually assimilated into long-term storage over a period of time. This process is called memory consolidation. The rhinal cortex is the last structure of the temporolimbic region. It is an area that is lateral to the amygdale and hippocampus in the area of the temporal lobe. In the memory process, the rhinal cortex is involved in recognition.

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Slide 6 Notes

The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex serves as the highest cortical area which plays an important role in the integration of sensory and mnemonic information and the regulation of intellectual function and action. This structure is also involved in working memory, which is a memory that is a theoretical construct within cognitive psychology that refers to the processes and structures used for manipulating and storing information provisionally. There are many theories as to both the theoretical structure of working memory as well as the specific parts of the brain that are responsible for working memory. Cognitive processes such as decision making are involved in the orbital frontal cortex, but in addition to that it is responsible for retaining long-term memory, both sensory and mnemonic information.

Slide 7 Notes

Learning and memory go hand in hand. If you do not have a good memory, then your ability to learn new things or retain knowledge already learned could be affected. There are numerous parts of the brain that are involved in learning and memory, and damage to these areas could result in amnesiac symptoms, and will effect learning and/or memory. For example, a specific disease referred to as Korsakoff’s disease, is usually caused by chronic alcohol abuse, and causes damage to the hippocampus, mammillary bodies, thalamus and hypothalamus. This disease starts with confusion and shows a severe deficit in learning new information, and eventually the patient will suffer from retrograde amnesia, which may cause the patient to forget about events from the immediate past, but they will be able to recall events from long ago. The effects of retrograde amnesia show that although it takes a long time to learn new information, the patients also forget at normal rates, which differs from amnesia due to damage from the medial temporal lobes where the patients forget quickly. In a study reported on by Zola-Morgan and Squire (1985), damage to the medial temporal region of the brain creates amnesic episodes and bilateral lesions of the hippocampus and amygdala impairs memory and the ability to learn. More specifically, this study shows that when damage is done to the areas of the brain that affect memory, the delay between learning and testing trials are highly affected, proving that learning and memory are interrelated.

Slide 8 Notes

Lifelong learning occurs as people go through life knowing that they can continually absorb new information without any limits. “A lifelong learning framework encompasses learning throughout the life cycle, from birth to grave and in different learning environments, formal, non-formal, and informal (Crocker, 2008, p.12).” A lifelong learner must be willing to explore new subjects and possess critical thinking skills. A critical thinker will use the five senses to observe, reflect, and reason using experiences to develop conclusions (Crocker, 2008, p.13).” If people notice that there are goals, needs, or opportunities that they plan to accomplish, they should consider themselves lifelong learners. People should aspire to become lifelong learners because it is proven to improve health.  “Participation in lifelong learning has been reported as having consequences upon health outcomes including well-being, protection and recovery from mental health difficulties, and the capacity to cope with potentially stress-inducing circumstances including the onset and progression of chronic illness and disability (Crocker, 2008, p.12).” Lifelong learning has many benefits and no drawbacks. Each individual should consider themselves to be lifelong learners.

Slide 9 Notes

Cognitive maps are a way of processing and storing spatial knowledge. The term was created by Edward Tolman and has been studied in various fields outside of psychology such as education. A more in-depth definition would say that the process is a series of psychological transformations that happen during the presence of learning. The mapping helps the individual decode, recall, code, acquire and store information learned or presented. Tolman believed that people learn by trial and error but when we are capable of learning something it is because we have created mental models or maps of the material. While Tolman’s idea is similar to the Learning theory it is more complex. The maps we create in the brain obviously cannot be seen but according to Tolman they are clear because of the seen consequences of learning. Michael Fanselow (1999) states that the “learning theory offers general formal, precise and testable conceptualizations of the learning process” (p. 281). There are many competitive forms of learning theories being studied or taught across the field of psychology.

A general principle of learning theories is that memory is the main processor of the information and that past experiences and knowledge plays an important role in future learning. Thus being said that cognitive theories tend to look at other things besides behavior to explain brain-based learning. The main consideration is how exactly memory aides and works in the learning process and the promotion of future learning.

Slide 10 Notes

Eleanor Maguire and her colleagues, at University College in London, examined the brains of 16 right-handed London taxi drivers by using magnetic resonance imaging (Wickens, 2005). To get a license they must have passed an examination that tested their ability to navigate some 24,000 streets in the city-a task that takes about two years to learn. It seems that this experience has an effect on the size of the hippocampus. The posterior part of the right hippocampus was significantly larger in both right and left hemispheres of the taxi drivers when compared with controls. Although, surprisingly, the anterior part of the hippocampus was found to be smaller. There was no difference between the two groups in the medial parts of the hippocampus, or in its overall size.  

Slide 11 Notes

Learning directions is truly a remarkable skill that requires both spatial memory and an ability to construct a mental map of our world. Our brain area that has been implicated in this ability is the hippocampus. Not only do lesions of this structure impair performance, but there is evidence that the size of the hippocampus may also correlate with the ability to perform such tasks. When the London taxi driver’s learn the city they are using many of the areas mentioned in this presentation: the hippocampus (for the assimilation and direction of short-term memory), the amygdala (for the consolidation of memory), and the rhinal cortex (for the upper cortical manipulation of memory). The neuroanatomy of memory and learning implicates many sections of the brain, both cortical and sub-cortical.  

Slide 12 Notes

Crocker, S. (2008). Fall into lifelong learning. Nebraska Nurse, 41(4), 12-13. Retrieved April 24, 2009, from EBSCOHost Database.

Fanselow, M. S. (1999). Learning theory and neuropsychology: Configuring their disparate elements in the hippocampus. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 25(3), 275-283. Retrieved April 14, 2009, from EBSCOHost Database.

Squire, L. R., & Zola-Morgan, S. (1985). Medial temporal lesions in monkeys impair memory on a variety of tasks sensitive to human amnesia. Behavioral Neuroscience, 99(1), 22-34. Retrieved April 14, 2009, from EBSCOHost Database. 

Wickens, A. (2005). Foundations of biopsychology, 2e. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Hall.

Presentation Topic

Begin working on the Learning and Memory presentation due Week Five. Prepare a presentation of 10-12 Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides (with presenter notes) that addresses the following items:

  • Describe the neuroanatomy of and neural processes related to learning and memory.
    • Explain the relationship between learning and memory.
    • Discuss the importance of lifelong learning and brain stimulation to longevity and quality of life.

Be sure to include at least three references in your presentation from scholarly (peer-reviewed) sources.

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