Neural basis of learning

Shirley Barker
Mind Map by Shirley Barker, updated more than 1 year ago
Shirley Barker
Created by Shirley Barker over 5 years ago


Overview of the neural basis of learning

Resource summary

Neural basis of learning
1 Synapse formation during learning
1.1 Involves creation of new neural pathways OR the strengthening of existing neural pathways.
1.1.1 Neural pathway - bundle of myelin-covered neurons (white matter) that provide a connection between one part of the nervous system and another
1.2 Involves synaptogenesis
1.2.1 Synaptogenesis -process of moulding or forming new synapses are formed
2 Synapse
2.1 Made up of axon terminal (presynaptic neuron), synaptic gap and dendrite (postsynaptic nueron)
2.2 During learning the presynaptic neuron releases glutamate into the synaptic gap.


  • Glutamate the main excitatory neurotransmitter involved in learning The repeated release of glutamate releases dopamine and leads to an increase in dendritic spines - growth from the dendrites toward the axon terminals.
2.3 When new learning occurs the neurons form new connections with each other.
2.3.1 'Sprouts' - term for the new growth that occurs from the axon terminals towards dendrites


  • It is okay to say that new 'sprouts' rather than fifgree appendages occur when something is learned.
2.3.2 New growth also occurs between dendrites towards the axon terminals. This makes the dendrites more sensitive to future firing from neighbouring neurons.
3 Strengthening of neural pathway
3.1 Enables the newly learnt information to be transferred from one neuron to the next.
3.2 The more the neural pathway is activated during learning the more it is strengthened and the less likely learning will be forgotten.
3.3 If a particular neural pathways are not activated the learning may be forgotten; synapses become weakened through infrequent use.
4 Study of neurobiological basis of learning has just begun!
4.1 The more we understand the more we can apply our understanding to treat phobias, learning disabilities, psychological orders etc.
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