An Introduction to Learning and Memory
Learning is the process of acquiring new information and memory is the retention or storage of that information. Different types of learning, such as non-associative and associative learning, and different types of memory, such as long-term and short-term memory, have been associated with human behaviors. Studying these components in detail helps behavioral scientists understand the neural mechanisms behind these two complex phenomena.
JoVE's overview on learning and memory introduces common terminologies and a brief outline of concepts in this field. Then, key questions asked by behavioral scientists and prominent tools such as fear conditioning and fMRI are discussed. Finally, actual experiments dealing with aging, eradication of traumatic memories, and improvising learning are reviewed.…
Fear Conditioning is a type of learning in which an association is established between a negative unpleasant event and a harmless stimulus. This leads to a fear of the harmless stimulus. This process is largely mediated by the amygdala, which is a brain region involved in emotions and stress reactions. Fear conditioning can be utilized in several ways to understand different aspects of learning and memory.
This video presents an overview of the principles behind fear conditioning, discusses the equipment and a generalized procedure used for this type of experiment. Finally, we'll review some real world applications of fear conditioning in behavioral neuroscience research today.…
Spatial Memory Testing Using Mazes
Spatial learning and memory are neurological functions that allow us to remember important details associated with our environment. Scientists test this phenomenon in rodents using different types of mazes like Morris water maze, Radial water maze, and Barnes maze. By investigating spatial memory in rodents, neurobehavioral scientists can gain valuable understanding of how these processes are altered following brain damage in humans.
Here, the neurobiology behind spatial memory is briefly reviewed and some general principles behind maze tests are discussed. Then, the video explains generalized protocols on how to conduct trials with specific types of mazes. Lastly, it will explain how behavioral researchers are using these tools to conduct some specific experiments.…
An Introduction to Cognition
Cognition encompasses mental processes such as memory, perception, decision-making reasoning and language. Cognitive scientists are using a combination of behavioral and neuropsychological techniques to investigate the underlying neural substrates of cognition. They are interested in understanding how information is perceived, processed and how does it affect the final execution of behaviors. With this knowledge, researchers hope to develop new treatments for individuals with cognitive impairments. JoVE's introduction to cognition reviews several components of this phenomenon, such as perception, attention, language comprehension, etc. Key questions in the field of cognition will be discussed along with specific methods currently being used to answer these questions. Finally, specific studies that investigate different aspects of cognition using tools like functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) or Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) will be explained.…
EEG is a non-invasive technique that can measure brain activity. The neural activity generates electrical signals that are recorded by EEG electrodes placed on the scalp. When an individual is engaged in performing a cognitive task, brain activity changes and these changes can be recorded on the EEG graph. Therefore, it is a powerful tool for cognitive scientist aiming to better understand the neural correlates associated with different aspects of cognition, which will ultimately help them devise improved treatments for patients with cognitive deficits. Here, JoVE presents a brief overview of EEG and its applications in cognitive research. First, we discuss where and how EEG signals are generated. Then, we explain the use of EEG in studying cognition along with a detailed step-by-step protocol to perform an EEG experiment. Lastly, the video reviews some specific cognitive experiments that use EEG in combination with other techniques such as functional Magnetic Resonance imaging (fMRI) or transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS).…
Eye Tracking in Cognitive Experiments
Eye tracking as the name suggests involves tracking of eye-movements. It is a non-invasive, sensitive tool that quantifies and measures eye-movements to describe an individuals' cognitive state. An eye-movement between two fixation points is called a saccade, which is one of the fastest motor movements in our body. By observing the profiles of these eye movements, scientists can better understand neural deficits in patients with cognitive impairments. In this video, we will first look at an overview of different eye movements that eye tracking can capture and the type of data that can be collected. Then, the basic setup and experimental design are reviewed, including different types of eye trackers and details to optimize the eye tracking equipment. Finally, we will take a look at a few specific experiments utilizing eye tracking as a tool to study cognition.…
An Introduction to Motor Control
Motor control involves integration and processing of sensory information by our nervous system, followed by a response through our skeletal system to perform a voluntary or involuntary action. It is vital to understand how our neuroskeletal system controls motor behavior in order to evaluate injuries pertaining to general movement, reflexes, and coordination. An improved understanding of motor control will help behavioral neuroscientists in developing useful tools to treat motor disorders, such as Parkinson's or Huntington's disease. This video briefly reviews the neuroanatomical structures and connections that play a major role in controlling motion. Fundamental questions currently being asked in the field of motor control are introduced, followed by some of the methods being employed to answer those questions. Lastly, the application sections reviews a few specific experiments conducted in neuroscience labs interested in studying this phenomenon.…
Balance and Coordination Testing
Balance and coordination are critical components involved in the control of movement. Many sensory receptors and neural processing units are required to help individuals maintain balance while performing various activities. Deficits in balance and coordination occur in patients suffering from movement disorders or due to aging. Therefore, scientists are trying to understand the pathophysiology behind these conditions. One way to do that is by using rodent models and testing them on behavioral paradigms such as the rotarod or balance beam. This video discusses the currently known neurophysiology behind balance and coordination. Then, we go over protocols to run balance tests in rodents using the rotarod and balance beam. Finally, we'll discuss some current studies utilizing these methods to investigate aging, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson's disease.…
Assessing Dexterity with Reaching Tasks
Reaching tasks are employed in behavioral neuroscience to investigate motor learning and forelimb dexterity. Much like human hands, rodents have dexterous forepaws, which are necessary for executing coordinated and precise motor movements. Experimenters may utilize food rewards to train rodents to reach and for testing their reaching abilities. These tasks help behavioral neuroscientist in understanding how CNS injuries, such as a stroke, may impair reaching ability and dexterity in humans. This video begins by discussing the principles and neurobiology of forelimb use in rodents, and then explains a protocol on how to conduct reaching experiments using different types of food rewards. Applications section reviews studies that involve reaching and food handling in animal models of CNS injury.…
An Introduction to Reward and Addiction
Consequences play a major role in controlling our behavior. If the consequence is a reward, then it encourages the associated behavior. Rewards can come in many forms such as a pleasant feeling, money, or food. However, sometimes an individual engages in compulsive behavior despite of negative consequences, and this state is known as addiction. Administration of addictive substances is neurochemically rewarding, which ultimately causes a loss of control in limiting the intake. Scientists aim to better understand the mechanisms behind these concepts and subsequently develop new therapies for treating substance abuse disorders. JoVE's introduction to reward and addiction explains the neuroanatomical components of the reward pathway. This is followed by some of the important questions asked by behavioral researchers such as how does our brain chemistry change in response to drug use. Prominent methods section reviews some of the tools being employed in the field, like self-administration protocols. Finally, the video discusses example experiments conducted in labs interested in investigating reward and addiction.…
Positive Reinforcement Studies
Researchers study learning of a behavior through the use of operant conditioning. This type of learning involves associating the behavior with a consequence, which is a reward or punishment. If the consequence is a reward, it leads to reinforcement of the desired behavior. One type of reinforcement approach is positive reinforcement, where the behavior is rewarded with an artificial, natural, or social reinforcer. Studies using positive reinforcement as a tool can help tease out important details about neurological functioning associated with different behaviors. This video reviews the concepts behind reinforcement studies by using an example of a man training a dog to sit. Following this, we look at a generalized procedure of positive reinforcement commonly used by behavioral researchers. This involves, training rodents to perform a behavior (lever press) to get a reward (food). Lastly, specific applications demonstrate how scientists use positive reinforcement to understand behavior.…
Behavioral reinforcement induced by the rewarding feelings following substance use sometimes leads to addiction, which is demonstrated by increased self-administration. Drug self-administration studies in rodents model human behavior during drug abuse. These models are useful in understanding the neurobiological behavior of addiction in order to help scientists discover new treatments for drug dependence.
This video reviews the concepts underlying self-administration studies. A general protocol of self-administration is discussed, which includes description of necessary equipment and different routes of administration commonly employed. Some modified protocols used to model more complex aspects of addiction, such as progressive ratio schedule and extinction, are also explained. Finally, experiments conducted in current addiction research labs will be examined.…
An Introduction to Modeling Behavioral Disorders and Stress
Recently, it has been discovered that behavioral conditions such as, depression, anxiety and stress-response have a neurological basis. Understanding the biological underpinnings of these conditions may help scientists in developing more effective therapies to treat these disorders. Typically, rodent models are used in this field and behavioral scientists create these models using interventions like drug administration or surgery. It is important to understand how to create and evaluate rodent models of behavioral disorders as they play an important role in discovery of new treatments for clinical applications. Here, JoVE science education video first reviews the 'classical' criteria used to evaluate rodent models of stress and behavioral disorders. This is followed by some of the important questions that scientists are trying to answer using these models as tools. We'll also go over several rodent behavioral tests currently being used in this field and discuss applications of these paradigms.…
Modeling Social Stress
Stress negatively affects our quality of life. In particular, some individuals experience social stress when placed in a social environment that they are unfamiliar with or have difficulty adjusting to. Since it is hard to examine mechanisms of social stress in humans, modeling this condition in animals may help scientist in developing new therapies for treating this commonly encountered problem.
This science education video begins by discussing the known anatomy and physiology behind stress response. Then, we explain a well-established paradigm for modeling social stress in rodents, the Resident-Intruder task. In the applications section, we review some example studies in which response to stress is measured.…
Anxiety is a commonly observed behavioral disorder that stems from fear. It is described as increased restlessness, or unpleasant feelings of fear over anticipated events. Experimenters often use rodent models to better understand anxiety disorders in humans. They use different paradigms, like exposing rodents to bright spaces or loud sounds, which are known to induce fear. These tests combined with other interventions such as surgery or drug-administration may assist researchers in pinpointing the neurobiological basis of anxiety disorders. This video begins by providing common principles behind variety of anxiety tests. Then, two specific protocols, the Successive Alleys Test and the Hyponeophagia Test are discussed in detail. Lastly, variations of anxiety testing in rodents and humans will be explored.…