Learning is a relatively permanent change in an organism’s behavior as a result of experience. Experience over a time period trains a change in behavior. For example, if an animal was always shocked when they walked on a certain spot, they would learn to avoid that spot

Memory is the ability to recall or recognize previous experience. In the learning example, the animal remembered to avoid a spot. Memories are triggered by a memory trace, a symbol of sorts that we associate with an object or behavior.

An activity triggers a memory trace, which triggers a memory.

Simple learning is simply memorizing stimuli and adjusting our behaviors accordingly. This includes conditioning.

Pavlonian Conditioning Pavlov for example, rang a bell before serving food to his dogs. Eventually, the dogs would salivate before the food was brought, just at the tone of the bell because they LEARNED that the bell = food.

Instrumental ConditioningThorndike put a cat in a box and had a fish on the outside. The cat was hungry, and learned to pull levers to open the box in order to get the fish. Skinner did a similar thing, where birds had to peck buttons to get food. They manipulated the different ways the pigeons had to move in order to get food. Eventually they learned complex routines in order to get food.

Habituation when we learn to ignore certain stimuli because they happen on such a regular basis. For example, if you switch your watch to the other wrist, it will feel weird, or we tune out the ticking of a clock.

Sensitization A process by which the response to a stimulus increases with repeated presentations of that stimulus, for example, increased behavioral response to the same dosage of a drug


Explicit memory is the facts, episodic, autobiographical. It is remembering names, events and pictures. You basically know that you are memorizing these things.

Implicit Memory is behaviors, skills, habits, it is perceptual. It is remembering how to turn on the lights or go to the bathroom. You don’t think about using these things.

Episodic Memory is the record of events that the individual experiences throughout his/her/its life. Episodic Memory is tied to a specific learning experience. Basically, episodic memory would deal with whether or not a certain word is on a list, or what type of picture was on the wall. These events are stored temporarily in the hippocampus and over days and weeks are transferred to different areas for permanent storage. (the medial temporal cortex, prefrontal cortex)

Semantic Memory is a general knowledge not tied to a learning experience used for dynamically recording and retrieving information. Basically, semantic memory would deal with associations made between two things. For example, is a butterfly a bird? (both fly, an association is made) occurs in the medial temporal cortex.

Perceptual Representation your mind’s representations of the conditions things are in. Remembering that the ball is red or that the room is hot. This takes place in the extrastriate cortex.

Procedural Memory refers to memory of how to do things. This is for activities like playing basketball or riding a bike. This is affected by the basal ganglia and motor cortex.

Short Term Memory

- Working memory

phonological loop – the cycling of visual word presentation to the articulatory control process to the phonological store to the auditory word presentation. The phonological store retains speech based info for 1-2 seconds. The articulary control process translates visual information into speech based code. This whole loop deals with how we are able to read and speak.

-- visuospacial sketchpad is responsible for the manipulation and temporary storage of visual and spatial information.

-Korsakoff’s syndrome is associated with heavy drinking (over a long period of time). People with this condition experience a loss of short term memory. This disease is not directly caused by the alcohol, but rather the lack of thiamine (vitamin B1) which affects the nervous system. Alcohol affects the stomach lining, and interferes with the body’s absorption of this vitamin. Korsakoff’s disease Is characterized by damage to the cortex. Korsakoff’s patients have a difficulty in acquiring new information, because of the damage to the short term memory. They believe their memory is functioning normally. They do retain abilities that they had before the disease.

Spatial Memory – The ability to remember locations based on their relative positions to other things. This takes place in the hippocampus

Methods of testing Spatial Memory

-Radial arm maze – A rat is placed the center of a maze containing 8 arms. Food is placed in one of the arms, and the rat is supposed to get the food. You memorize where the food is as to where it lies in the maze compared to other things

-Relative Hippocampal size – birds with bigger hippocampuses tended to find more food than birds with smaller ones. This shows that the larger the hippocampus is (relative to the body and rest of the brain) the better at memorizing special information an animal is.

Neurological Cases

H. M. - H. M. Had severe epilepsy, went in for surgery, had his amygdala, hippocampal formation and associated cortical structures removed. (the amygdala is in charge of affective (emotional) type behaviors and species typical behaviors; the hippocampus is in charge of special navigation and certain types of memory) H.M. has severe amnesia, he is unable to recall anything that has happened since his surgery. Has an above average I. Q. and can remember things from his childhood, and can have sophisticated conversations but cannot remember what happened two minutes ago, as well as anything that has happened since his surgery. His father died, and he could never remember this, he continually asked where his dad was, and experienced grief each time he was informed of his death.

H.M.’s explicit memory was destroyed, but his implicit remains in tact. He can do normal things, but cannot remember new objects, people and ideas.

J. K. J. K. developed Parkinsons disease, which affected the basal ganglia (the basal ganglia is in charge of movement of the limbs and the body). With this, J. K. could not remember to do basic activities most of us do not think about. He once forgot how to turn on the lights. He knew what he was trying to do, but forgot how to do it.

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