Learning and Memory
Learning and memory are closely related concepts.
Learning is the acquisition of skill or knowledge, while memory is the expression of what you’ve acquired. Another difference is the speed with which the two things happen. If you acquire the new skill or knowledge slowly and laboriously, that’s learning. If acquisition occurs instantly, that’s making a memory. Learning is acquiring new, or modifying existing, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information. The ability to learn is possessed by humans, animals and some machines. Progress over time tends to follow learning curves. Learning is not compulsory, it is contextual. It does not happen all at once, but builds upon and is shaped by what we already know. To that end, learning may be viewed as a process, rather than a collection of factual and procedural knowledge. Memory is one of the most fundamental mental process, and without memory we are capable of nothing but simple reflexes and stereotyped behaviors. Neuroscientists study this process by using extremely diverse strategies. Two different approaches aimed at understanding learning and memory were introduced in this symposium. The first focuses on the roles played by synaptic plasticity, especially in long-term depression in the cerebellum in motor learning, and its regulatory mechanism. The second approach uses an elegant chick-quail transplantation system on defined brain regions to study how neural populations interact in development to form behaviorally important neural circuits and to elucidate neurobiological correlates of perceptual and motor predispositions.
Basic Learning Process
Classical conditioning (also Pavlovian conditioning or respondent conditioning) is a form of learning in which one stimulus, the conditioned stimulus or CS, comes to signal the occurrence of a second stimulus, the unconditioned stimulus or US. The US is usually a biologically significant stimulus such as food or pain that elicits a response from the start; this is called the unconditioned response or UR. The CS usually produces no particular response at first, but after conditioning it elicits the conditioned response or CR. Classical conditioning differs from operant or instrumental conditioning, in which behavior emitted by the organism is strengthened or weakened by its consequences (e.g. reward or punishment). Conditioning is usually done by pairing the two stimuli, as in Pavlov’s classic experiments. Pavlov presented dogs with a ringing bell (CS) followed by food (US). The food (US) elicited salivation (UR), and after repeated bell-food pairings the bell also caused the dogs to salivate (CR). It used to be thought that the basic process in classical conditioning is that the conditioned stimulus becomes associated with, and elicits, the unconditioned response. However, many observations are inconsistent with this view. For example, the conditioned response is often quite different than the unconditioned response. Learning theorists now commonly say that the conditioned stimulus comes to signal or predict the unconditioned stimulus. Robert A. Rescorla provided clear summary of this change in thinking, and its consequences, in his article “Pavlovian conditioning: It's not what you think it is. ·
Operant conditioning (or instrumental conditioning) is a form of learning in which an individual's behavior is modified by its consequences; the behavior may change in form, frequency, or strength. Operant conditioning is a term that was coined by B.F Skinner in 1937 Operant conditioning is distinguished from classical conditioning (or respondent conditioning) in that operant conditioning deals with the modification of "voluntary behavior" or operant behavior. Operant behavior operates on the environment and is maintained by its consequences, while classical conditioning deals with the...
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