By studying this process in the C. elegans worm, a creature only one millimeter long but whose biology has been studied so extensively that the position of all of its 302 nerve cells in the body is known, the researchers think they'll be able to pinpoint the cells and molecules at play during learning and memory.
The findings are described in a study published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Memory - Blocking - Kamin - Blocking - Rats
Memory blocking, also known as Kamin blocking, was first described in rats in the 1960s by the psychologist Leon Kamin at McMaster University. It occurs when an animal that has already learned to respond to a cue, a sound for example, cannot learn to respond to another cue, say a flash of light, when it is presented at the same time as the learned sound.
"Suppose you grew up hearing ice cream trucks playing a song and hearing that song, even when you can't see the truck, makes you think of ice cream," explains Daniel Merritt, who led the study as part of his doctoral research in the group of Derek van der Kooy, Professor in the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Molecular Research and U of T's Department of Molecular Genetics. "One day, the ice cream truck owners decide to add a spinning green light to the roof of the truck, so that even people who are hard of hearing can see them. Kamin blocking predicts that you won't learn to associate spinning green lights with ice cream, because the ice cream truck song already fully predicts the delicious treat in store for you."
Kamin - Blocking - Way - Humans - Novelty
Kamin blocking is thought to be a key way in which humans learn by focusing on novelty. It led to a well-established idea that to learn about an experience, it has to carry with it an element of surprise. Problems...
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