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Updated: Monday, April 12, 1999 10:50:04 AM

Intro to Psych Perspectives History & People
 Epistemology Bettelheim's Autism Scientific Method & Experiments
Experimental Termonology Neurotransmitters Neurotransmission
Anatomy of the Brain Split Brain Brain Imaging
Neural Plasticity Auditory System Visual System

Section 1: Neuro Plasticity

Primary Questions:
  • How do we make memories
  • Why do we remember some things and not others
  • How are we able to learn things
  • What effects do experience have on us
  • How is the brain able to recover from injury
I. What is Neural Plasticity
  • The ability of the neural connections (synapses) in the brain to change
  • Plasticity is brought to underlie our ability to learn; to remember and adapt.
II. History

A. Ramon y Cajal (1893)

  • Learning and experiencing involve formation of new synaptic connections
  • Brain as a neural net

B. Donald Hebb (1949) The organization of Behavior

  • Experience represented by new or modified nural connections
  • "Hebbian synapse"
  • Synapses that are repeatedly activated become stronger and more efficient
  • Possible mechanism of how information is stored

C. Diamond, Rosenzweig & Greenough (1960’s)

  • Learning and experience can have direct physical effects on brain structure.
  • Two types of information storage (Greenough):

1.  Experience-Expectant

  • Organism is developmentally prepared to learn
  • Critical Period

2.  Experience-Dependent

  • Development is dependent on experience
III. Neural Plasticity, Learning ad Experience

A. Hebb’s Rats

  1. Allowed "Free-run" of his house
  2. Out-preformed lab rats on all learning tests
  3. Enriched experience

B. Effects of the enriched environment

  1. Bennett (1964) found "enriched rats" to have a heavier thicker cortex than "Isolated rats"
  2. EC/IC Paradigm
  • Developed by Rosenzweig, Diamond and Greenough late 1960’s
  • Three conditions enriched
  1. Enriched Condition (EC)
  2. Social Condition (SC)
  3. Impoverished Condition (IC)

    3.  Results

  1. EC rats have larger neurons
  2. 25% more synapses per neuron
  3. 20% more dendrite per neuron
  4. Increased acetycholine
  • SC show many of the same effects of EC, but are still significantly lower than EC
  • Blind Rats show same increases
  • EC rats respond better to stress





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