The Brain's Engram: Memorising Experiences and Experiencing Memory
Full course description
The brain is able to retain a myriad of experiences in the memory for shorter and longer durations of time. Memory formation requires encoding followed by the selection of relevant items in working memory, and the consolidation of the experience into a lasting neural representation. At the same time, memory retrieval appears to involve the reactivation of the neural processes of memory formation. In this course, students will discuss the neuroscience of working memory and episodic memory, and in how far these types of memory rely on similar neural mechanisms and brain networks. The role of prefrontal cortex as well as the hippocampal complex in memory formation and retrieval will be discussed in detail. With the current knowledge and methods, it has become possible to artificially create, delete, and retrieve memories, and we will read some of the research papers that have led to this unprecedented capability.The literature comprises introductory materials on plasticity in aplysia and LTP, as well as cutting-edge memory research papers from various neuroscience disciplines, including cognitive neuroimaging, neurophysiology, molecular biology (optogenetics), pharmacology, and pharmacology.
- acquire knowledge and understanding of basic processes underlying learning and memory, including neurophysiological correlates at the level of spiking and local field potentials, oscillations, and cellular plasticity processes;
- acquire knowledge, understanding as well as the ability to critically analyse and evaluate core papers on learning and memory that combine theories, methods, and data from different fields, including cognitive neuroscience, neurophysiology, pharmacology, and molecular neuroscience;
- improve their ability to integrate insights from different fields (as mentioned in previous points) to gain deeper insight in fundamental theories of memory and in core concepts including encoding, (re)consolidation, maintenance and retrieval;
- gain anatomical and functional knowledge on the contributions of hippocampus, frontal lobe, and sensory cortices to learning and memory;
- gain the ability to read current, cutting-edge, multidisciplinary empirical research papers documenting approaches to implant artificial memories, delete specific memories, or reactivate/retrieve memories under experimental control;
- further improve their skills in reading, analyzing, evaluating and verbally discussing interdisciplinary papers, leading to suggestions for better design and/or analysis.