Learning and Memory
Full course description
We learn throughout our lives. At school, we learn to read and do sums. We also learn to cycle and later how to drive a car. Besides this, we can recall specific events, such as our first driving lesson, or our first day in high school. For some, high school may elicit happy memories, for others simply recalling walking on the schoolyard is sufficient to elicit anxiety. Our memory can also fail. It may happen that you go to the supermarket with a list in your head of what you certainly need to buy, to come home with several items lacking. And maybe your sibling will have a very different memory of a past event, calling into question the truth-value of memories.
The above-elicited questions will be studied through behavioural research in humans and derived cognitive models, but also via biological research in animals, so that behavioural data and theoretical insights can be better linked to the brain function. This biologically oriented course gives students an introduction about generally applicable stages in learning and memory, namely encoding, storage, and retrieval. In addition, students will be exposed to the different brain areas and structures that contribute to the different types of memory, and to the contribution of individual neurons to forming short- and long-term memory traces. This course aims to significantly deepen the students’ concepts of working memory, episodic memory, different forms of conditioning and skill learning, emotional learning, and learning by example.
Insights into how memory works may help enhancing memory and learning in many daily activities, in educational contexts, and in clinical contexts that involve revalidation after physical or emotional trauma, or neurological disease, brain lesions or ageing. The course will stimulate students to make the link between theoretical insights and applications.
Students will be able:
- to name and explain different types of memory and related theoretical models;
- to name the most important anatomical structures of different types of learning and memory, and to explain lesion effects;
- to explain neuronal processes and their changes during learning and memory (as explained in the present course);
- to understand the selected primary research articles, and to integrate them into the overall body of study materials;
- to understand research methods sufficiently (at the described introductory level) as to understand and explain findings in the discussed studies;
- to apply knowledge on learning and memory mechanisms to gain deeper insight in examples from clinical or other domains (e.g., study behaviour, social media, ADHD, depression, Alzheimer, autism, addiction, phobia’s).