In this chapter we discussed the wide variety of specific behavioral paradigms applicable to assessing learning and memory in rodents. Understanding these procedures is important for two general reasons. First, these procedures have been used historically as basic experiments to characterize the fundamental attributes of learning and memory behaviorally. Second, in the modern era, these procedures are used in literally thousands of separate studies investigating the anatomical, cellular, and molecular basis of learning and memory. We will be discussing the results of many of these experiments in more detail throughout the rest of the book. Having a firm grasp on the basics of rodent behavioral paradigms is key to understanding the design, interpretation, and limitations of modern cellular and molecular investigations into memory formation in mammalian model systems. Thus, we have dedicated a reasonable amount of time to considering the design of these experiments, their attendant caveats, and the necessary control experiments that go along with them.

A second theme of this chapter has been the basics of hypothesis testing. We covered in an abstract sense the four fundamental types of experiments that scientists have available to them for testing various predictions of a hypothesis. We will return to these basic experimental types many, many times throughout this book. Although we will discuss them specifically as they pertain to studies of learning and memory and their attendant cellular and molecular mechanisms, mastery of the basic concepts of hypothesis testing is crucial for students whatever their ultimate field of endeavor. Working through their application in the context of learning and memory will undoubtedly be useful as a mental exercise, helpful beyond the specifics of their application in one scientific subdiscipline.


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Lashley Maze Rat Eye View

Lashley Maze—Rat's Eye View J. David Sweatt, Acrylic on canvas, 2002

The Hippocampus Serves a Role in Multimodal Information Processing, and Memory Consolidation

I. Introduction

II. Studying the Hippocampus A. Hippocampal Anatomy

III. Hippocampal Function in Cognition: the Hippocampus Serves a Role in Information Processing— Space, Time, and Relationships

A. Space

B. Time

C. Multimodal Associations—The Hippocampus as a Generalized Association Machine and Multimodal Sensory Integrator

D. The Hippocampus also is Required for Memory Consolidation

IV. Summary References

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