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2 - Learning and memory: basic principles and model systems

from Section A1 - Cellular and molecular mechanisms of neural plasticity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 March 2012

Kimberly M. Christian
Affiliation:
Neuroscience Program, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Andrew M. Poulos
Affiliation:
Neuroscience Program, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Richard F. Thompson
Affiliation:
Neuroscience Program, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Michael Selzer
Affiliation:
University of Pennsylvania
Stephanie Clarke
Affiliation:
Université de Lausanne, Switzerland
Leonardo Cohen
Affiliation:
National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland
Pamela Duncan
Affiliation:
University of Florida
Fred Gage
Affiliation:
Salk Institute for Biological Studies, San Diego
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Summary

Introduction

If the ultimate aim of neural repair and rehabilitation is to restore functions vital to an individual's ability to live independently, then restoration of the capacity to learn and remember is of tremendous importance. The ability to learn, including the acquisition of novel information, relationships and strategies, and the ability to remember and act upon what has been learned, are essential for successful negotiation of our dynamic environment. While many behaviors are reflexive, stereotyped and innate, experience and memory shape much of our behavioral repertoire and allow us to perform basic tasks essential to our daily life by recognizing familiar faces, locating our homes, etc. Understanding how new information is encoded at the neural level and made accessible for later recall is a central goal of neuroscience. How are constellations of sensory input transformed into usable information, interpreted within a context, and remembered? Clearly, there must be causally relevant neural correlates of learning and memory that once identified should provide insight into the fundamental mechanics of brain organization and function. If we can understand how the brain changes in response to experience and thus how it is that we can learn and remember, then we will be well equipped to address many of the most devastating deficits resulting from brain injury.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2006

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