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PSY397H5 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Morris Water Navigation Task, Neuroplasticity, Long-Term Memory

Course Code
Robert Gerlai
Study Guide

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Psy397 – Test Notes 1 2016-02-27 10:04 PM
Lecture 1
Learning and memory and how it alters our behavior
Our brain size allows us to be flexible and change when our
environment needs it
Human origins come from Africa but our brain size has allowed us
to live in many parts around the world
We attempt to make life more predictable by using past experiences
Neuroplasticity allows brain to process stimuli, filter important
information and help us learn
Nervous System, function enables us to respond to environment
o Allows organisms to find food, water, partners, avoid danger
and seek best conditions available
o Some organisms can survive without a large brain, simple
reflexes is enough to live
! Nematode: detect yeast to eat through chemosensory
! Nocturnal Insects: use moonlight to fly straight
o These reflexes do not give much flexibility to adapt to new
! Insects often fly to lights at night and burn themselves
o Example: Slug or Alypsia Californica
! Simple organism with few neurons
! It can learn through habituation: after touching it
constantly with will no longer withdraw
! This is non-associative learning because no stimulus is
! Olfactory and hearing cues are common for habituation
! Sensitization: another non-associative learning,
constant exposure leads to elevated responses
Closed and Open Programs
Closed/Rigid Program, In this program, our genes have a
deterministic effect
Behavior is unlikely to change when the environment does

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o Example: imprinting, seen in birds, after hatching there is a
short critical period where the first thing the bird sees will be
assumed to be it’s mother and own species
! Konrad Lorenz showed this with geese
Fixed Action Patterns: our brain also has features that cannot be
changed and thus has little plasticity.
o Example: courtship/mating: most species follow same way to
o Innate Predator Recognition: fish may see a predatory fish
species and by reflex avoid it
o Phobias, seen in humans like with snakes and spiders. We
may be afraid of snakes despite never seeing them in our life.
! It is possible change the phobia but they naturally occur
Open Program, genes do NOT have a deterministic effect
Behavior can be altered by the environment
o Environment stimuli leads to experience which changes
Declarative Learning: type of learning where we are aware of the
memory, we can recall the memory of an event or thing
Procedural Learning: type of learning supported by different
mechanisms and is more implicit. It is something we know how to
do and remember we can do it but cannot recall exactly how we
learnt it
o Example: riding a bike, fine motor tasks
Learning and Memory
Learning: acquisition of an altered behavioral response due to
environment response
o Change in environment can be measured, this can indicate
when learning occurs
Memory, process through which learned information is
consolidated and stored into the brain
o Association between stimuli are stored permanently and can
be recalled with ease

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o Recall: retrieval process through which altered behavior
o Neural Plasticity: allows modifications of behavioral
response based on our past experiences
Learning and Memory have 5 processes
o 1. Perception of stimuli
o 2. Learning (acquire the memory)
o 3. Store the Memory
o 4. Recall the memory
o 5. Altered responses due to prior experience
No behavior is 100% plastic and no behavior is 100% genetic
o Role of environment and genes create a shade of gray
o Most plastic and sophisticated nervous system is our brain but
there also plenty of restrictions
Moon/Dime Paradigm, we see the moon as smaller and further
away when it is in the sky but bigger on the horizon
o But we can use a dime to fully cover the moon regardless of
where it is
o We can tell ourselves that they are the same size but the
brain will continue to show this illusion
Recognition of Upside Down Facial Expression, we may not
recognize how horrible a face looks when it is upside down
o our species are sensitive to reading facial expressions of our
own species but not others
o Smile at a gorilla is often showing dominance over them
Human learning and memory has species specific constraints
o Olfactory cues are learnt differently compared to visual
! Easier to recall a red rose than smell of gas
o Seven Item Rule: it is easy for us to remember up to 7
things (license plates and phone numbers)
o Calculating abstract math is easy but time zones is difficult
Species Specific Constraints
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