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Learning and memory

Description:
Learning and memory are two intimately linked cognitive processes that stem from interactions with the environment (experience).
Transcript:
Learning and memory: OVERVIEW: Learning and memory are two intimately linked cognitive processes that stem from interactions with the environment (experience). The hippocampus is the region in the brain most closely associated with learning. Long-term potentiation (LTP) is considered to be the cellular basis of learning and memory and is most often studied in the hippocampus. LTP refers to changes in a cell that cause it to respond more efficiently to stimulation. Two glutamate receptors, NMDA and AMPA, are particularly important to driving these changes. LTP has also been associated with changes in gene expression, and a number of gene variants have been found to enhance or impair learning. Selected items on the Genes to Cognition Online “subway line” explore key areas in learning and memory research. GENES Researchers have identified a number of genes that dramatically affect memory. Many of the genes that are involved in giving fruit fly brains the ability to form memories are believed to be the same genes that participate in memory formation in human brains. Josh Dubnau, a researcher at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory studies learning and memory in fruit flies. In Training Flies, he introduces his lab and explains that some genetic variant have profound memory enhancements and impairments. Use Fly School to identify fruit flies that have photographic memories. The Map of Disorders and Processes outlines prominent genes associated with learning and memory. CHEMICALS Communication in brain cells is guided by interactions between genes and biochemicals at the synapse. Use Molecules for Memory to explore how 2 glutamate receptors, NMDA and AMPA, respond to synaptic changes by initiating a series of protein-protein interactions. These interactions can lead to the formation of new synapses, which ultimately can facilitate long-term learning. They are thought to be highly involved in the process of long-term potentiation. CELLS Neurons change their behavior as a result of interactions with the environment – they learn. In Recording Action Potentials from brain slices researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute demonstrate one method for studying long-term potentiation (LTP). LTP is considered to be the cellular basis of learning and memory and refers to changes in neurons that causes them to respond more efficiently to stimulation. Use the Neural Code to understand what this means at the synaptic level and explore changes in cell structure that facilitate learning. BRAIN The hippocampus is the region in the brain most closely associated with learning. Damage to the hippocampus can produce profound memory impairments, specifically in the ability to create long-term memories. The hippocampus is one of the few structures in the brain that shows signs of neurogenesis – the growth of new brain cells. The amygdala is another area of the brain associated with memory – particularly fear-learning. Explore these areas using the 3D Brain. COGNITION Learning is defined as a relatively permanent change in behavior resulting from experience. Memory is an organism's ability to register, retain, and retrieve information over time. The two processes are intrinsically linked. There are different stages of memory and different genes and regions in the brain have been associated with short-term (relatively temporary) and long-term memories. There is also a qualitative difference between implicit and explicit memories. Interviewees Eric Kandel and Howard Eichenbaum explain these distinctions. Use SAP102 Swimming Mice to explore some profound learning impairments in knockout mice. ENVIRONMENT Ultimately, all learning stems from interactions with our environment. Unlike other organs the brain is not built to maintain homeostasis but to change and adapt as a consequence of environmental interactions. These interactions can be impair (e.g. toxic stress) or enhance (e.g. stimulation) learning. Use Memory Lanes to see how interaction with the environment can directly affect brain anatomy.
Keywords:
learning, memory, long term potentiation, nmda, ampa, glutamate, sap102, psd-95, creb, hippocampus, amygdala, stress
Creative Commons License This work by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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