Link between autism and poor cognition
In the 1890's, Russian psychologist, Ivan Pavlov discovered classical conditioning through repetitive patterns of bell ringing which signaled to his dogs that food was on its way and stimulated salivation. This same learned behavior is important for episodic knowledge which is the basis for such things as learning vocabulary, textbook knowledge, and memorizing account passwords. Abnormal learning processing and memory formation are associated with a number of diseases like dementia, autism, and PTSD. People who struggle with these cognitive dysfunction-related disorders may have trouble retaining memories or can even form too strong a memory, as with PTSD patients. The UNH researchers believe that understanding the fundamentals of how classical conditioning shape neural connections in the brain could speed up the development of treatments for these disorders in the future.
Contributing to these findings are Yuxin Zhou, doctoral candidate; Liyan Qiu, research scientist; both at UNH, and Haiying Wang, assistant professor at the University of Connecticut.
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Cole Neuroscience and Behavioral Faculty Research Awards.
The University of New Hampshire inspires innovation and transforms lives in our state, nation and world. More than 16,000 students from all 50 states and 71 countries engage with an award-winning faculty in top-ranked programs in business, engineering, law, health and human services, liberal arts and the sciences across more than 200 programs of study. As one of the nation's highest-performing research universities, UNH partners with NASA, NOAA, NSF and NIH, and receives more than $110 million in competitive external funding every year to further explore and define the frontiers of land, sea and space. Source:
University of New Hampshire Journal reference:
Zhou, Y., et al. (2020) Induction of activity synchronization among primed hippocampal neurons out of random dynamics is key for trace memory formation and retrieval. FASEB Journal . doi.org/10.1096/fj.201902274R .
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