Chapter 12 - The Neural Basis of Learning Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Chapter 12 - The Neural Basis of Learning Deck (19):

What is the definition of learning?

Learning as a relatively permanent change in behaviour (or behaviour potential) due to experience.


What is a Reflex Action?

Is a SIMPLE, AUTOMATIC, INVOLUNTARY RESPONSE to a specific environmental stimulus that comes directly from the nervous system and is basically the same each time it occurs. (e.g. survival instinct/defense mechanism)(e.g. blinking, coughing)


What is a Fixed Action Pattern (FAP)?

COMPLEX AUTOMATIC SEQUENCES of BEHAVIOUR that are genetically pre-programmed and performed by members of the same species (may be sex-specific). They can be activated by environmental triggers (like the change of season).(e.g. Funnel-web spider uses FAP to create tubular web, Mutton birds leave Australia in April each year and migrate to Alaska arriving back in the exact same location to nest)


What is a Maturation Behaviour?

  • Are INNATE, GENETICALLY PROGRAMMED BEHAVIOURS that result from the physical growth and development of the body, brain and nervous system at predictable ages.
  • The ORDERLY, SEQUENTIAL CHANGES the body is genetically predetermined to undertake is referred to as maturation


(e.g. Babies will begin walking at around 10-14 months)


What are the three behaviours not dependent on learning?

  • Reflex Action
  • Fixed Action Pattern (FAP)
  • Maturation Behaviours


3 non-learning Behaviour Overview

  • Reflex Action
    • Simple reflexes
    • Adaptive
  • Fixed Action Pattern (FAP)
    • Complex Behaviour
    • Same for all member of a species
    • Species Specific
  • Maturation Behaviours
    • Behaviour that cannot occur until organism is sufficiently developed


Synaptogenesis Definition

New synapses are formed. During learning, axon terminals release the neurotransmitter GLUTAMATE into the synaptic gap between the presynaptic neuron and postsynaptic neuron.

REPEATED GLUTAMATE release stimulates the release of DOPAMINE. This prompts growth of dendritic spines in the postsynaptic neuron, making the postsynaptic neuron more sensitive to firing (LTP).


Neural Pathway Definition

  • Neural Tract
  • Bundle of myelin-covered neurons (white matter)


Hippocampus Role in learning

Learning new information that will become declarative memory typically involves an interaction between the hippocampus and relevant areas of the cortex that specialise in storing declarative-type information.

(e.g. Animals with damaged Hippocampus are able to FEEL emotion but unable to LEARN or REMEMBER it next time)


Amygdala Role in learning

Has a role in EMOTIONAL LEARNING - in learning to associate fear with a new unpleasant stimulus. This makes the amygdala essential for an organism's survival.


Cerebral Cortex Role in learning

Many areas of the lobes of the cerebral cortex are involved in learning and memory storage. A key area the BASAL GANGLIA integrates multiple parts to perform smooth bodily movements


Cerebellum Role in learning

Located in the hindbrain plays a role in;

  • muscular movement
  • balance- posture
  • necessary for learning motor skills.


Brain Plasticity Definition

Changes that occur in the brains neurons as a result of learning.


Development Plasticity Description

Infant's or child's brain development (5 stages)

  1. PROLIFERATION: neurons divide and multiply
  2. MIGRATION: neurons move to destinaiton
  3. CIRCUIT FORMATION: axons grow to target cells and from synapses
  4. CIRCUIT PRUNING: elimination of excess neurons and synapses
  5. MYELINATION: child's neurons become myelinated as brain matures


Adaptive Plasticity Description

Brain can be shaped through learning and experience throughout an adult's life

REORGANISATION: after a brain injury, function and structure of the brain can be relocated to an undamaged area

STEM CELLS: continue to create neurons throughout life allowing the brain to adapt and cope with any new experiences


Sensitive Periods

Certain periods in development that are suited to learning certain things (optimum times)


Experience-Expectant Learning

These are situations in which a species' typical experience (that all members of the species experience in normal conditions) plays a necessary role in the development organisation of the nervous system.

Mostly occurs during childhood and adolescence.


Experience-Dependant Learning

Form of learning that can occur at any time during an individual's life


Critical Periods

Narrow period of time in an organism's development where pre-programmed learning will occur. (More common in lower order animals)

Humans have few - e.g. babies must be exposed to light in the first few days of life otherwise they might become visually impaired.