STUDY ALERT: Time to rethink the neural mechanisms of learning and memory

December 9, 2013 in Study Alerts

Time to rethink the neural mechanisms of learning and memory

Charles R. Gallistel a, Peter D. Balsam

Most studies in the neurobiology of learning assume that the underlying learning process is a pairing – 23 dependent change in synaptic strength that requires repeated experience of events presented in close 24 temporal contiguity. However, much learning is rapid and does not depend on temporal contiguity which has never been precisely defined. These points are well illustrated by studies showing that temporal relationships between events are rapidly learned- even over long delays- and this knowledge governs the form and timing of behavior. The speed with which anticipatory responses emerge in conditioning paradigms is determined by the information that cues provide about the timing of rewards. The challenge for understanding the neurobiology of learning is to understand the mechanisms in the nervous system that encode information from even a single experience, the nature of the memory mechanisms that can encode quantities such as time, and how the brain can flexibly perform computations based on this information.

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h/t: Andrea Kuszewski

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