11 Oct Learning and memory
Learning and memory serve a critical function in allowing organisms to alter their behavior in the face of changing environments (Maren, 2008).
Learning and memory are critical for survival and reproduction of any animal. Invertebrates show rich repertories of sensory behavior, thus facilitating the analysis of learning and memory. The main message from invertebrate studies is that neural logic is conserved between invertebrates and vertebrates including mammals. Thus, invertebrate neuroscience is a powerful tool for understanding our brain and mind (Sasakura and Mori, 2013).
Learning and memory are intensively studied topics in modern brain and cognitive science. Drosophila has been used in the study of visual learning and memory for approximately the past 20 years (Guo et al., 2013).
Working memory can be decomposed into visual (the visuospatial sketchpad) and verbal (verbal rehearsal or the phonological loop). Further divisions are often possible, such as a separation between spatial and visual working memories (Baars and Gage, 2010).
Learning and memory are highly interrelated and cannot be fully understood independently of each other. Most studies on memory in aging are cross-sectional and there is typically a lack of information necessary for ruling out the influence of the health status of the participants. Memory performance is seen as influenced by numerous properties acting at both encoding and retrieval stages of memory processing. Task properties may generally be recognized in terms of cognitive support (low–high), although there is no evidence of a simple relation between level of support and performance (Johansson and Wahlin, 1998).
Learning and memory, as well as patterns of electrical stimulation of neurons and neural pathways, not only alter synaptic function, but also produce changes in intrinsic excitability. These changes in intrinsic excitability can be neuron wide or restricted to specific membrane compartments such as the dendrites, thus affecting neuronal function and signal integration either globally or locally. Although ascertaining the functional relevance of certain changes in intrinsic excitability in the context of a given form of learning has not been always successful, and in several cases the role of intrinsic plasticity still remains elusive, lines of evidence suggest that experience-dependent changes in intrinsic excitability may function as part of the engram itself, or as adaptive mechanisms to shape the stimulus specificity of the learned response, or also as mechanisms through which a neural circuit is set to a permissive state to favorite the occurrence of the synaptic modifications necessary for memory formation and retrieval (Mozzachiodi and Byrne, 2017).
- Aike, Guo, Yah-Num, Chiang Wong, (2013). “Invertebrate Learning and Memory”. Handbook of Behavioral Neuroscience.
- Boo, Johansson, Åke, Wahlin. (1998). “Clinical Geropsychology”. Comprehensive Clinical Psychology.
- Hiroyuki Sasakura, Ikue Mori. (2013). “Invertebrate Learning and Memory”. Handbook of Behavioral Neuroscience.
- Maren, S. (2008). “Memory Systems”. Learning and Memory”, A Comprehensive Reference.
- Riccardo, Mozzachiodi, John H. Byrne. (2017). “Plasticity of Intrinsic Excitability”. Reference Module in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Psychology.
- Bernard J. Baars, Nicole M. Gage. (2010). “Learning and memory”. Cognition, Brain, and Consciousness (Second Edition).