Learning about Learning: A Course on Neurobiology of Learning and Memory


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In this course we propose to teach the rules governing learning and how they result in storage of information in the form of memory. The course structure is such that the lectures introduces the student/listener to the fundamental rules that determine learning through a historical perspective. Such a design helps the listener/student to understand how these rules came about, what were the experimental observations that led to the rules. In the course we will be using these rules and apply to various situations and experimental setting and analyse the behavioral outcomes. The framework for understanding associative learning is presented in the first few lectures followed by reinforcement learning/instrumental conditioning. In the end synergistic views of both the learning are presented followed by description of some of the modern behavioral paradigms. Towards the later part of the course the lectures connect these behavioral studies to molecular underpinnings. 

Advanced UG, MSc, PhD


Module 1  :  Introduction, Ebbinghaus, Lashley, Penfield, Brenda Millner, Memory Classification
Module 2  :   Classification of Learning, Intro to non-associative learning, Habituation, Sensitisation Gil withdrawal reflex
Module 3  : Introduction to Classical Conditioning: Associative Learning, Pavlovian Conditioning Factors governing association Continguity vs Contingency, Negative Contingency, Garcia and Koleings Experiment & Kamin’s Blocking
Module 4  :  Theories of Conditioning: Rescorla Wagner -1 Development of the Framework
Module 5  :  Rescorla Wagner -2 Use of the method - explaining negative contingency, Predictions, 
Module 6  :  Shortcomings of Rescorla Wagner Model, Stimulus substitution
Module 7  :  Introduction to Reinforcement Learning: Classification Thorndike's , Tolman views, Skinner box
Module 8  :  Primary vs Secondary Reinforcers, Higher order conditioning, PreMack's principle, Timberlake and Overland Deprivation Theory, Different Regimes of Reinforcement
Module 9  :  Introduction to the molecular basis of learning and memory: Role of proteins in synaptic/cellular/systems consolidation of memory (Early experiments - Gold fish experiment protein synthesis blockers, role of dopamine in Goal vs Sign directed behavior)
Module 10  :  Role of immediate early genes, NMDAR independent learning, LTP, case study of CaMKii.