Discuss the evidence for a biological basis of learning and memory
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Discuss the evidence for a biological basis of learning and memory Discuss the evidence for a biological basis of learning and memory Investigating biological basis of learning area which has received a great amount of attention. This text will primarily address the neural regions involved in learning and memory which have been identified via studies of impaired memory, experimental lesions in non-humans and also through brain scans on individuals whilst carrying out task related to learning and memory. This text will also provide evidence for the suggestion that there is not simply one region involved in learning and memory but many. The first regions of the brain to be considered in the present context are the cortical regions, both posterior to the frontal lobes and anterior.
This text will address a common example in this area known as patient HM. HM had a significant amount of his medial temporal lobe removed during an operation, including the hippocampus and the amygdala to alleviate the symptoms of epilepsy. Consequently, HM suffered from retrograde and anterograde amnesia (although the retrograde amnesia subsided). It was shown through studies by Baddeley (1997), that when asked to repeat a list of seven digits, he could do so, however, forgot them and knowledge of ever having completing the task when someone provided a distraction. Thus, providing a distinction between long-term memory (LTM) and short-term memory (STM). In addition to this, Brenda Milner (1965) provided a distinction between declarative (knowing that)
Now, in considering the mediation of procedural memory and the case of patient HM's retention of procedural memory Grafton et al (1994) showed through a series of PET scans that during procedural learning, increased blood-flow went to the cerebellum and not the hippocampus, in turn implicating the cerebellum as a mediator of procedural memory. In addition to other structures in the brain, the amygdala is also implicated in learning and memory, more specifically when there is some emotional element attached (Schacter, 1989a), moreover, despite its position in the MTL the amygdala was not important for the formation of declarative memory. Ultimately, it appears that in dealing with information either temporarily or on a longer basis, or in dealing with memory that we are aware or not aware of, there are a number of interconnecting structures in the brain that play a role in learning and memory.
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