LSC-20076 - Learning & Memory
Coordinator: Simon Trent
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 5
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office: 01782 734414

Programme/Approved Electives for 2022/23


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2022/23

The acquisition of new information is a critical component of adaptive behaviour in both humans and animals. Learning about the world allows us to interact and/or react appropriately to a wide array of challenges. Drawing from experience in these instances is highly beneficial, too, as new information is integrated with existing knowledge stored in our memories. Memory is intrinsically tied to virtually every aspect of human cognition, from the ability to temporarily remember a phone number to the acquisition of a skill utilised throughout a lifetime. Ultimately, it is where and how the brain stores these experiences that inevitably contributes to making us who we are as individuals. In this module we will explore the physiological processes that underlie acquired changes in behavior. This will involve a detailed examination of the physiological and molecular mechanisms involved in the acquisition, consolidation and retention of information. Initial lectures will focus on the qualitatively different types of leaning and memory in humans and animals, including a discussion on seminal experiments on mechanisms underlying simple learning in invertebrates. Changes in synaptic physiology and connectivity during memory encoding will be explored, as well as current theories related to the molecular signals involved in maintaining and stabilising a memory trace over time. Later lectures will explore the contributions of the hippocampus and parahippocampal cortices to spatial learning and memory, as well as the involvement of the prefrontal cortex in the regulation of short-term working memory. Finally, memory systems will be discussed in relation to the acquisition of complex motor skills and language.

The aim of this module is to provide students with a fundamental understanding of the physiological and molecular mechanisms underlying the acquisition, consolidation, retention and recall of knowledge and information.

Intended Learning Outcomes

discuss the role of the prefrontal cortex in short-term working memory: 1
describe how the brain acquires new information, including fear memory and motor skills: 1,2
critically evaluate a primary source journal article and answer questions related to the content of the paper: 2
explain learning and memory with reference to the underlying physiological mechanisms (e.g., synaptic plasticity): 1,2
explain the molecular mechanisms underlying learning and memory: differentiate between different types of learning and memory in humans and animals (e.g., declarative versus non-declarative memory): 1,2
explain how learning and memory can be impaired in disorders and diseases of the brain: explain the contributions of the hippocampus and parahippocampal cortices to spatial learning and memory: 1,2

Study hours

14 x 5 hours engagement with asynchronous content
6 x 1 hour live lectures/seminars
5 x 1 hour of live tutorials
4 x 2 hours of live tutorials
61 hours independent study and completion of assessment

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Open Book Examination weighted 70%
Online open book exam
The paper will be released on KLE as a Word document at 9 am on the morning of the exam. 2 essay style questions from a choice of 4. Students should answer each question using Word, clearly labelling each question as they provide their answers. Work will be submitted to Turnitin no later than 5 pm on the day of release. International students will be asked to notify the School if they need an extension due to different time zones. Although students have been given significant time to complete this exam script, we expect most students to spend no more than 2 hrs. Answers should be as accurate and concise as possible. For essay-based questions, typical answers would be in the range of 500-750 words per question. We recommend that students do not exceed 750 words per essay-based question as we will be assessing the quality of your answer, not the quantity.

2: Online Tasks weighted 30%
Journal Comprehension Class Test
A journal paper relevant to the assessment will be released 2 week prior, on the KLE. The paper (in the form of SAQs) will then be released to students as a timed test on the KLE (link to test will be available on the KLE on the day of the assessment at 9 am). Once started, students will be given 8 hrs to complete, although we recommend that 2 hours should be sufficient. International students will be asked to notify the School if they need an extension due to different time zones. For these short-answer questions, students should pay careful attention to the number of points that each question is worth. In general, we would expect only one or two sentences for each point.