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Habituation mechanisms and their impact on cognitive function

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889194629 Year: Pages: 110 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-462-9 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Neurology --- Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2016-03-10 08:14:32
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Habituation describes the progressive decrease of the amplitude or frequency of a motor response to repeated sensory stimulation that is not caused by sensory receptor adaptation or motor fatigue. Habituation can occur in different time scales: habituation within a testing session has been termed short-term habituation, whereas habituation across testing sessions has been termed long-term habituation. Generally, the more spaced the stimuli for inducing habituation are presented (i.e. the slower habituation is induced), the longer it seems to take to recover the behavioural response to its initial magnitude. Habituation is opposed by behavioural sensitization, which is thought to be an independent mechanism that leads to an increased behavioural response, especially if the sensory stimulus is annoying or aversive. Habituation provides an important mechanism for filtering sensory information, as it allows filtering out irrelevant stimuli and thereby focussing on important stimuli, a prerequisite for many cognitive tasks. The importance is demonstrated in mental disorders that are associated with disruptions in habituation, e.g. schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders. The inability to filter out irrelevant information in patients with these disorders strongly correlates with disruptions in higher cognitive functions, such as in different types of memory and attention. Habituation is also considered to be the most basic form of non-associative implicit learning, and it can be observed throughout the animal kingdom. Based on the importance of habituation for cognitive function and therefore for the survival of an animal, it is assumed that habituation mechanisms are highly conserved across species. On the other hand, there is emerging evidence for a multitude of homo- and heterosynaptic mechanisms underlying habituation, depending on the modality of sensory stimulation, the level of sensory information processing where habituation occurs, and the temporal composition of sensory stimulation. Eric Kandel used the sea hare Aplysia in order to study habituation mechanisms of the gill withdrawal reflex; however, the molecular mechanisms remain largely elusive to date. A multitude of different organisms, behaviours, and experimental approaches have been used since in order to study habituation, but still surprisingly little is known about the underlying mechanisms. New insights also come from an unexpected side: in the recent past, groups that have been studying molecular mechanisms underlying short- and long-term synaptic plasticity phenomenons in different parts of the rodent brain are starting to link these plasticity processes to behavioural habituation. The scope of this Frontier Research Topic is to give an overview over the concept of habituation, different animal and behavioural models used for studying habituation mechanisms, as well as the different synaptic and molecular processes suggested to play a role in behavioural habituation through Original Research Articles, Methods, Hypothesis & Theory Articles, and Reviews.

Olfactory memory networks: from emotional learning to social behaviors

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889194865 Year: Pages: 288 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-486-5 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Neurology --- Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2015-11-16 15:44:59
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Odors are powerful stimuli that can evoke emotional states, and support learning and memory. Decades of research have indicated that the neural basis for this strong "odor-emotional memory" connection is due to the uniqueness of the anatomy of the olfactory pathways. Indeed, unlike the other sensory systems, the sense of smell does not pass through the thalamus to be routed to the cortex. Rather, odor information is relayed directly to the limbic system, a brain region typically associated with memory and emotional processes. This provides olfaction with a unique and potent power to influence mood, acquisition of new information, and use of information in many different contexts including social interactions. Indeed, olfaction is crucially involved in behaviors essential for survival of the individual and species, including identification of predators, recognition of individuals for procreation or social hierarchy, location of food, as well as attachment between mating pairs and infant-caretaker dyads. Importantly, odors are sampled through sniffing behavior. This active sensing plays an important role in exploratory behaviors observed in the different contexts mentioned above. Odors are also critical for learning and memory about events and places and constitute efficient retrieval cues for the recall of emotional episodic memories. This broad role for odors appears highly preserved across species. In addition, the consistent early developmental emergence of olfactory function across diverse species also provides a unique window of opportunity for analysis of myriad behavioral systems from rodents to nonhuman primates and humans. This, when combined with the relatively conserved organization of the olfactory system in mammals, provides a powerful framework to explore how complex behaviors can be modulated by odors to produce adaptive responses, and to investigate the underlying neural networks. The present research topic brings together cutting edge research on diverse species and developmental stages, highlighting convergence and divergence between humans and animals to facilitate translational research.

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