Learning and Memory Processes


Course Text: Garrett, B. (2015). Brain and Behavior: An Introduction to Biological Psychology, (4th ed.). Los Angeles: Sage.

Chapter 9, “Hearing and Language” (pp. 265-301)
Chapter 12, “Learning and Memory” (pp. 373-401)
Chapter 13, “Intelligence and Cognitive Functioning” (pp. 403-437)

Web Sites

The Wernicke-Geschwind Model of Language (Brain and Behavior, Figure 9.23)

This sequence demonstrates the Wernicke-Geschwind model of language, tracing the routes by which language is processed in different modalities (e.g., spoken, written).
Associative Long-Term Potentiation (Brain and Behavior, Figure 12.10)

This sequence demonstrates the neural basis of associative long-term potentiation.
Glutamate’s Role in Long-Term Potentiation (Brain and Behavior, Figure 12.11)

This sequence shows how long-term potentiation occurs as a result of changes in synaptic activity.

Application: Learning and Memory

When you study for a course and prepare to make use of the information you learn, such as taking a test or completing an Application Assignment, what exactly is going on in your brain? In this assignment, you will need to think about how the information assigned for this week applies to this very question. Given what you have learned about learning and memory, you also will need to think about whether your own learning habits are efficient, or if you should be doing something differently.

To prepare for this assignment:

Review the Learning Resources focusing on learning and memory, paying special attention to the following:
How do brain cells change when learning takes place?
Where is information initially stored in the brain?
How does information retained short-term become more permanent?
Once information is made more permanent, why is it subject to change or forgetting?

The assignment: (1–2 pages)

Briefly explain how you study for this class.
What activities do you engage in to learn the material?
How much time per week do you devote to reading the assigned chapters?
How frequently do you review the week’s material before moving on to the next week?
Is your pattern of studying for this class similar to or different from how you study for other classes? Explain.
You have read that the process known as long-term potentiation is a likely phenomenon underlying learning.
As you study material for this class, what is happening to the neural cells involved in processing the information? (In other words, explain the process of long-term potentiation.)
Based on the material in the chapter, what brain areas are involved in your initial processing of this information? (Keep in mind that this involves declarative memory.)
Once you have learned the material, you are required to retrieve it for a test, or to complete an assignment.
What brain areas are involved in this process?
Is the information likely to have been consolidated into long-term memory? Explain your answer.
Assume that one year from now, you are asked to give a talk at your job about what happens in the brain when we learn and remember information.
Assuming you can still recall the information, will it be stored in the same location that it is now? Explain.
Assume that you are unable to recall the information clearly. Why? What has happened to the memory?
Considering what you now know about the biological basis of learning and memory, how might you enhance your short- and long-term retention and retrieval of the information you are learning in this course?

Support your Application Assignment with specific references to all resources used in its preparation. You are asked to provide a reference list only for those resources not included in the Learning Resources for this course.