Chapter 2: the neuroscience of Learning and Memory
2.1 A QUICK TOUR OF THE BRAIN
Neuroscience – study of the brain and the rest of the nervous system .
Most early studies were focused on behaviour rather than brain function
The Brain and the Nervous System
Central nervous system : brain and the spinal cord . where learning and memory takes place.
PNS : consistes of the motor and sensory neurons that connect the brain and spinal cord to the
rest of the body.
o Sensory neurons carry information into CNS and motor neurons carry information out.
The Human Brain
Cerebral cortex: the putside covering of the brain; highly folded. The largest structure of the
human brain. Each hemisphere is devided into:
o Frontal lobes : plan and perform actions.
o Occipital Lobes: see and recognize theworld.
o Parietal lobes: feel
o Temporal lobes: hear and remember what you have done.
CerebellumL behind the cerebral cortex, contributes coordinated mobement and especially
important foe learning that involves physical action.
Brainstem : connects brain to spinal cord. Regulates automatic functions such as breathing.
Subcortical structures: important for memory and learning
o Thalamus: receives sensory information and passes it into the brain.
o Basal ganglia: important for planning and producing movement (ex. Throwing a football)
o Hippocampus: imp for leaning new information. One on each side of the temporal lobes
o Amygdala: adding emotional content to memories.
Comparative Brain Anatomy
Verterbrates have similar structures of the brain hence we can use their studies to make
assumptions about the human brain
Bigger brain does not mean more intellectuality
The cortex in humans has to be folded to fit, whereas the frogs doesn’t.
o The size of cortex is rekated in functions such as learning and complex thoughts
Learning without a brain
Only vertebrates have both PNS ands CNS
But invertabrates such as octopus can learn quite well (ex. White ball red ball experiment where
the octopus learned as observers)
Creatures such as nematodes without a brain have neurons which they use for leaning Observing Brain Structure and Function
Galen removed the brain to look at the function with gladiators and removed Aristotles notion
that heart was the seat of the intellect
Broca worked with a patient who could read and write but could not speak (only tan).
Concluded that frontal lobe was specialized in producing speck.
Gall: gave rise to phrenology. The size of the brain region related to function. Lead to brain
mapping. Wrong because it assumed that the shape of the skull reflected the shape of the brain
Structural Neuroimaging: brain scanning which can also lesions.
o Computed Tomography
Multiple x-ray images.