RuCCS Colloquium- Dr. Kasia Bieszczad
Sensory system neuroplasticity supports memory for the details of events
Presenter: Dr. Kasia Bieszczad
Over four decades of neurobiological research have demonstrated the remarkable ability of the adult brain to change with experience. Modern questions now concern the reasons for neuroplasticity, including the experience-dependent factors that are sufficient to induce change, and also the consequences of changes to neural function (when they do happen). This talk will discuss the factors and functions of changes in an auditory model of neuroplasticity using rodents. Sensory systems, like the auditory cortex, are generally thought to exist in a state of stability to represent the sensory (acoustic) environment. However, some learning experiences can alter sensory representations to achieve a new state of stable representation. Auditory neuroplasticity can occur with important experiences like associative learning when a sensory cue—like a tone—predicts a behaviorally meaningful event—like reward. I will present at least two demonstrations of associative learning-dependent neuroplasticity in the adult auditory system that links the function of sensory system plasticity to the ability of an individual to remember experiences (1) with high sensory detail, and (2) over long time periods. The implication of these findings is that the induction of neuroplasticity in sensory systems (whether by natural experience, or artificially by neurobiological manipulation) may be sufficient to generate long-term memory with high sensory detail.