Matters of memory and learning are at the epicentre of Kandel’s research. In bis book, “In Search of Memory ” he describes his experiments with Aplysia. In fact, it was through the experiments with Aplysia that led Kandel to realize that the number of synapses in the brain is not fixed -it changes with learning!
Consistent with the one-process theory, the same site can give rise to both short-term and long-term memory in habituation and sensitization. Moreover, in each case a change in synaptic strength occurs. But consistent with the two-process theory, the mechanisms of short- and long-term change are fundamentally different. Short-term memory produces a change in the function of the synapse, strengthening or weakening preexisting connections; long-term memory requires anatomical changes. Repeated sensitization training (practice) causes neurons to grow new terminals, giving rise to long-term memory, whereas habituation causes neurons to retract existing terminals. Thus, by producing profound structural changes, learning can make inactive synapses active or active synapses inactive. (page 126)
Kandel, E. R., 2006, In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind, Book available here
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