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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Marsha R Penner
PSYCH 426
Seattle Campus

Neurobiology of Learning and Memory

Theory and research on how animals learn and remember, including basic concepts of brain plasticity, how brain areas and neurons adapt to changes in experiences throughout the lifespan, and cellular and structural substrates of a "memory." Prerequisite: minimum 2.0 grade in either PSYCH 202, PSYCH 322, PSYCH 333, PSYCH 421, PSYCH 422, or PSYCH 423.

Class description

This course focuses on the current state of our knowledge about the neurobiological basis of learning and memory. A combination of lectures and discussions will include molecular, cellular and systems level analysis of learning and memory in invertebrates and vertebrates from a behavioral and neural perspective. This course is intended for upper level undergraduates and graduate students.

Student learning goals

Describe and explain the terminology, theories, and research methods used when studying learning and memory.

Read, present, discuss, and critically evaluate empirical learning and memory research.

General method of instruction

This course meets twice a week. The first class of each week will be devoted to a lecture that will provide a general overview of the topic to be discussed and the approaches used in these studies. The second class of the week will be devoted to student presentations in which empirical work will be presented and critiqued. The student(s) presenting that week will read the assigned primary papers and will prepare a 10-15 minute talk on the paper they were assigned.

Recommended preparation

Suggested supplementary reading: Readings for this course will be drawn from book chapters, review papers and primary literature. It is critical that you do all of the required reading prior to class. Please consult textbooks and other sources as needed to fully understand the material. Wikipedia is not typically an adequate source of information. Good sources for supplementary reading include:

1. Kandel, E. R., Schwartz, J. H., and Jessell, T. M. (2000). Principles of Neural Science. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

2. Martinez, J. L., Jr., and Kesner, L. P. (eds.) (2007). Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

3. Rudy, J. W. (2008). The Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates.

4. Squire, L. R., and Kandel, E. R. (1999). Memory: From Mind to Molecules. New York, NY: Scientific American Library.

5. Sweatt, J. D. (2007). Mechanisms of Memory. New York, NY: Elsevier Academic Press.

6 . Bear, M.F., Connors, B.W. and Paradiso, M.A. 2001. Neuroscience: exploring the brain, 2nd edition. Baltimore: Lippincott/Williams and Wilkins.

7. Schwartz, B., Wasserman, E.A., & Robbins, S.J. (2001) Psychology of Learning and Behavior, 5th Edition. New York: Norton.

8. Eichenbaum, H. (2002). The Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory: An Introduction. Oxford University Press.

Class assignments and grading

Oral presentation (25% of grade), write a paper (20% of grade), weekly thought papers (20% of grade), take home exam (20%), participation (15%). *bonus marks can be earned by doing well on occasional pop quizzes


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Marsha R Penner
Date: 03/26/2012