Learning and Memory

Learning and Memory Jessica A. Rountree, Brenda Bejar, Lisa Jackson, Derek Delarge PSY340 November 14, 2011 Dr. April Colett Learning and Memory On the surface learning and memory are connected easily. When an individual learns to walk, they retain the information in the memory. The learning process is something that happens every day. As human beings we are programmed to learn life lessons, and retain them in our memory. The memory keeps pictures, smells, experiences, and tastes for us to learn how to live our lives. Learning is the experiences we have, and memory stores this information (Pinel, 2009).

It is as simple as that. However, researchers have found how the brain functions while retaining memory. A closer look into learning and memory one find’s it is not quite that simple. The brain, although protected by the skull, is a fragile organ. A blood clot, a blow to the head, or drug use can damage the brain enough that learning is stunted, and memory does not exist. For an individual who cannot remember 20 years of their life due to a car accident is going to experience psychological damage as well. It is not just the absence of memory itself, but the fear as well.

Learning and memory are something that the majority of individuals take for granted. There are those that can learn, yet not retain memory. Amnesia patients often can retain motor skills, a learned skill, however, cannot recall memories. Memory and learning deficits affect an individual to life’s core. Depending on what type of deficit is occurring learning and memory may not be related. Retaining the ability to walk means learning is still in place, however not knowing what you had for breakfast is memory. Knowing how to eat is a learned response to feeling hungry.

The mind works the knowledge presented to it. Whether that knowledge is carried properly thought the process of the brain is a different story. An individual can experience death so many times they learn it is a part of life. However, it is the memory that betrays us. Learned information leads to memories. Long-term potentiation (LTP) shows facilitation of synaptic transmissions following an electrical stimulation at a high frequency. This study was done mostly on rat hippocampus. The hippocampus is where the process of learning and memory take place.

During research on rats it was found that the co-occurrence of firing presynaptic and postsynaptic cells must fire at the same time to induce LTP (Pinel, 2009). Hebb’s postulate for learning is the assumption this co-occurrence is physiologically necessary for learning and memory. He states the axon of cell A nears cell B and excites it. This closeness talks part in firing. Growth processes or metabolic changes take place in both cells (Pinel, 2009). Even to the smallest molecule learning and memory are intertwined with one another. Misfires of these cells can cause poor learning and retention.

Researchers would not know the extent of the unique relationship between learning and memory if not for the rat experiments. What makes learning possible is also what makes memory possible. The neurons take information to the hippocampus where it is divided, processed and stored. In Pavlov’s conditioning experiment, he learned that a conditioned response can be created from memory (Pinel, 2009). Given the limits on information processing capacity, the specific details encoded and retrieved in memory come at the expense of other details.

Comparing the types of details and processes that individuals from one culture prioritize over others offers insight into the type of information given priority in cognition, perhaps reflecting broader cultural values. The properties of memories and the types of

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memory errors people commit offer a window into the organization of memory. In terms of types of memory errors, if people falsely remember conceptually related, but not phonologically related items, it suggests that the meaning of the information is critical to the organization of memory, whereas phonological information is not (Chan et al. 2005). Information can be encoded not only in terms of its precise properties (e. g. , remembering the unique perceptual features of an item) but also in terms of its gist, or general thematic properties (e. g. , a category or verbal label). One example of highly specific memory representation comes from the literature on priming. Priming occurs when prior experience with an item facilitates a response. Its effects are implicit: they do not rely on conscious recollection the item encountered previously.

Although people respond to different examples of the same item (e. g. , a different picture of a cat) more quickly than to unrelated items, suggesting facilitation from prior exposure to a related item, the benefit is smaller than it is for a repeated presentation of the original item (Koutstaal et al. , 2001). The functions of the brain are well known for the control of the functional memory and learning and how the two have become interdependent. When individuals begin to stimulate the memory is when the learning occurs. Stimulating learning incites memory.

With the knowledge at the center of the attention, it is imperative to stimulate the brain through lifelong learning so that one can start to achieve longevity and quality of life (Khorashadi, 2010). The brain is the organ is responsible for what we refer to as the mind. The basics of the mind are feeling, thinking, wanting, learning, behavior and memory. Memory is the fundamental mental process of the brain. If as humans if we not have memory then we are capable of simple reflexes and stereotyped behaviors. There are two different types of memory the declarative memory and the non-declarative memory.

The examples of a declarative memory are semantic memory, which is the general memory, and the episodic memory, which is the detailed memory. Then the non-declarative memory is the skilled learning, priming and conditioning. Memory and learning are the most studied subjects within the field of neuroscience. Memory is a behavioral change caused by experiences, and learning is a process that is acquired by memory. Memory makes it possible to obtain pervious learning skills. There are different types of memory along with learning. Memory has temporal stages; short, intermediate, and long.

The successive processes capture, store and retrieve information within the brain. There are different parts of the brain that process different aspects of the memory. It is known that a patient that suffers from amnesia will become memory impaired. With the two types of amnesia retrograde and anterograde the loss or inability to form memories will occur. With learning there are also different types the non-associative learning associative learning. These different types of non-associative are known as the habituation, which is a decreased response to repeated presentation of a stimulus.

The distribution that is the restoration of a response amplitude after habituation. Then there is the sensitization that increases responses to most stimuli. There is also the associative learning that involves the relations between events. Classical conditioning is the neutral stimulus paired with another stimulus that elicits a response. The instrumental or operant conditioning is association is made between the behavior and the consequences of one’s behavior (Okano, 2000). Learning and memory are interchangeable processes that rely on each other. When memory-related neurons fire in sync with certain brain waves memories last.

Theta oscillations are known to be involved in memory formation, and previous studies have identified correlations between memory strength and the activity of certain neurons, but the relationships between these events have not been understood. Research shows that when memory-related neurons are well coordinated to theta waves during the learning process, memories are stronger. When memory-related neurons in the brain fire in sync with certain brain waves, the resulting image recognition and memories are stronger, than if this synchronization does not occur (CSMC, 2010).

In society, he or she widely accepted the necessity to be a lifelong learner if one is to thrive in today’s rapidly changing, economy, and technologically global society. Today’s economy ushers in adjustments and transitional challenges at several levels, and lifelong learning viewed as the vehicle that will empower individuals to meet and adapt to the challenges of today’s technological society according to (Jarvis, 1992). Too often today the knowledge and skills obtained from previous life experiences has become insufficient to respond to technological and economy question of today.

The lack of accord that lies between an individual’s external world, and internal biographies that has been gathering over one’s lifetime, is a point of disjuncture. This is the point in one’s life that ushers in and ideal time, and condition for higher learning (Jarvis, 1992). A decision an individual must make at this point with a response to this disjuncture. An individual must decide to further their education to keep up with technology, or proceed with life as normal. With the ever-changing world of technology today it is only a matter of time before the point of disjuncture becomes inevitable.

The traditional theory of the human brain was that it was a fixed and limited system, and it would develop its potential at the younger years of life. The theories insist that neurons were finite and could not regenerate. The contrast with the animal research has proven that new brain cells can be born in the hippocampus region responsible for new learning and memory. With this revelation the individual pursuit of activities that will foster brain health by developing neuron connections that underlie learning and experiences. Learning is imperative to human, and brain health. It is also imperative to quality of life.

Today intuitions have financial incentives for people to continue lifelong learning has become a part of several health care programs. It is imperative that older Americans understand that learning is a healthy activity, not only for the brain, but for physical, emotional, and Spiritual, conditions as people age. . The learning and memory process is more delicate than individuals believe. However, the brain is an organ that can be exercised. It is important to remember to try to learn new things, and keep the brain moving. The brain and the mind are connected physically, and metaphysically.

In order for the mind to be at ease, the brain has to function normally. Without normal brain function, an individual can experience depression. This depression can cause a slowing of the firing process causing false memories. The biological function of learning and memory are connected with one another in a delicate balance of connectivity. An electric charge between one neuron and another incites learning, and readies the memory. Perspective can change our learning process. An individual tends to learn something that interests them, rather than something that does not.

The interest in the activity sends a stronger signal to the brain. This strong electric current incites the learning process, which makes memorizing the task much easier. This is why it is a strong belief that learning and memory are created by cells becoming close enough to respond to each other. An interest jump-starts this process. A healthy mind achieved through learning can reduce the affects of Alzheimer’s patients. More proof that as long as the brain is stimulated learning and memory can still take place. Reference Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (2010, March 24).

When memory-related neurons fire in sync with certain brain waves, memories last. Retrieved November 14, 2011 from http://www. brandeis. edu/gutchess/publications/Gutchess_Indeck. pdf Chan, J. C. , McDermott, K. B. , Watson, J. M. , & Gallo, D. A. (2005). The importance of material-processing interactions in inducing false memories. Memory & Cognition, 33, 389–395. Jarvis, P (1912) Paradox of learning on becoming and individual in society. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publisher. Khorashadi, M. (2010). Differential effects of estrogen on memory processes and learning strategies: A selective review of animal studies.

Mcgill Science Undergraduate Research Journal, 5(1), 24-29 Koutstaal, W. , Wagner, A. D. , Rotte, M. , Maril, A. , Buckner, Okano, H. (2000). Pnas. Retrieved from http://www. pnas. org/content/97/23/12403. full http://www. pnas. org/content/97/23/12403. full Pinel, J. (2009). Biopsychology (7th edition). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon. R. L. , & Schacter, D. L. (2001). Perceptual specificity invisual object priming: Functional magnetic resonance imaging evidence for a laterality difference in fusiform cortex. Neuropsychologia, 39, 184–199.

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