L9 - Learning and Memory: Hippocampus and Amygdala Flashcards Preview

PSYC1020 - Introduction to Psychology - Minds, Brains and Behaviour > L9 - Learning and Memory: Hippocampus and Amygdala > Flashcards

Flashcards in L9 - Learning and Memory: Hippocampus and Amygdala Deck (10):

Neuroanatomy and Physiology:

  • Neuron theory: Brain is made up of cells (neurons) and nerves are cell axons
  • Learning and memory: Making and strengthening connections between neurons that represent associated concepts

Different components of memory are mediated by different parts of the brain



Neurogenesis = Generation of new neurons

  • Neurons never regenerate or repair: damaged brain areas never “re-grow”


  • New neurons constantly “born” throughout life from Neural stem cells
  • Only two areas in adult brain:
    • Hippocampus (learning and memory)
    • Subventricular zone for olfactory bulb



Synaptogenesis: Generation of new synapses (connections between neurons)

  • MORE important than neurogenesis
  • Synapses are constantly formed and strengthened with learning
  • Enriched” conditions (lots of stimuli) lead to growth of dendrites and more extensive synaptic connections



The capability of the brain to alter its functional organisation as a result of experience

Sensory cortex: Sensory cortex areas expand with use and experience

  • String musicians develop larger area on primary sensory cortex for left hand fingers

Motor cortex: After damage, motor cortex can re-organise with use to recover function

  • Lesioned motor cortex in monkeys and used electrical stimulation to map hand area
    • No rehab = Maladaptive plasticity (motor cortex for that hand got smaller);
    • Rehab = Motor cortex area for hand expanding + ↑ movement

Visual cortex: Brain areas lacking their normal input can take new functions with use

  • Visual cortex activity increased only in blind people reading brail (not sighted participants)


Limbic System:

Medial temporal lobe

  • Amygdala
  • Hippocampus



  • Fear and arousal
    • Responds to threat/danger (snakes, spiders, angry/fearful faces)
  • Fear conditioning/learning/phobias involve classical conditioning



Forming new episodic memories + spatial navigation (mental map of familiar environment)

  • Damage causes memory loss (can’t form new memories)

Spreading Activation Model (theoretical): Activation (firing) of one neuron leads to spreading activation to related or connected neurons (concepts)

  • Memory is represented by individual neurons each encoding specific concepts or objects (e.g. "Grandmother" cells: Neurons can “represent” (encode or “fire” to) a specific concept, such as your grandmother)
  • Shared connections with neurons that represent related concepts (e.g. Fire-engine → Red, Truck, Fire, Siren)


Learning and Memory in the brain: Long-Term Potentiation (LTP)

Change in the structure of synapses to give stronger signal from pre- to post-synaptic neuron

  • Involves ↑ neurotransmitters + ↑ post-synaptic receptors


Learning and Memory in the brain: Graded potentials:

Excitatory and inhibitory inputs (via dendrites) sum together to change membrane potential at axon hillock; dependant on strength of synapse connection (on dendrite)

  • Strong stimulus = Large change in membrane potential;
  • Weak stimulus = Small change For neuroplasticity ONLY, the strength of the synapse changes with learning


Hebb's law: “Neurons that fire together wire together"

When an axon of cell A is near enough to excite cell B and repeatedly or persistently takes part in firing it, some growth process or metabolic change takes place in one or both cells; A's efficiency at firing B is increased

  • Hebbian Learning: Repeated firing of pre- and post-synaptic neuron AT THE SAME TIME strengthens synaptic connection
  • Brain “learns” associations via repeated pairings which strengthens connections between paired stimuli/events