Neuronal Adaptive Mechanisms Underlying Intelligent Information Processing
CALIFORNIA UNIV LOS ANGELES MENTAL RETARDATION RESEARCH CENTER
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Acceleration of the rate of learning of a conditioned facial movement was accomplished by adding electrical stimulation of the hypothalamic region of the brain to presentations of conventional conditioned and unconditioned stimuli, confirming earlier Soviet observations of a comparable effect by such simulation. The learning that resulted was both associative and discriminative. That is, learning was induced by a specific stimulus combination, the code depending on the order and interval of presentations of two different stimuli. The learned response was then elicitable by a specific stimulus combination, the code depending on the order and specific input signal. Research indicates that the pattern of cortical neuronal activity produced by hypothalamic stimulation predicts loci of hypothalamic stimulation that, when, stimulated, will succeed in accelerating learning. Present studies are directed toward establishment of whether the hypothalamic stimulation responsible for acceleration of learning is punishing or rewarding. This may, however, be of less consequence in understanding what is going on than would specifying the coded molecular interactions that occur between the chemicals released by hypothalamic stimulation and other chemicals capable of modifying the transfer properties of the nerve cell. It is these interactions that are thought to be primary in controlling the potentiation of learning.