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The Computational Brain$
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Patricia S. Churchland and Terrence J. Sejnowski

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262533393

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262533393.001.0001

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Plasticity: Cells, Circuits, Brains, and Behavior

Plasticity: Cells, Circuits, Brains, and Behavior

(p.239) 5 Plasticity: Cells, Circuits, Brains, and Behavior
The Computational Brain

Patricia S. Churchland

Terrence J. Sejnowski

The MIT Press

This chapter examines the physical mechanisms in nervous systems in order to elucidate the structural bases and functional principles of synaptic plasticity. Neuroscientific research on plasticity can be divided into four main streams: the neural mechanism for relatively simple kinds of plasticity, such as classical conditioning or habituation; anatomical and physiological studies of temporal lobe structures, including the hippocampus and the amygdala; study of the development of the visual system; and the relation between the animal's genes and the development of its nervous system. The chapter first considers the role of the mammalian hippocampus in learning and memory before discussing Donald Hebb's views on synaptic plasticity. It then explores the mechanisms underlying neuronal plasticity and those that decrease synaptic strength, the relevance of time with respect to plasticity, and the occurrence of plasticity during the development of the nervous system. It also describes modules, modularity, and networks in the brain.

Keywords:   nervous systems, hippocampus, learning, memory, Donald Hebb, synaptic plasticity, modules, modularity, networks, brain

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