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Hippocampal Synaptic Plasticity During Instrumental Learning Essay (Article)


Learning is an endless process that involves the acquisition of new ideas, knowledge and experiences that help individuals know how to cope with various situations in life. Various medical scientists, sociologists and psychologists have come up with different experiments to explain how individuals acquire new knowledge under different circumstances. This essay summarizes an experiment that was done to access the learning habits of various organisms placed under different conditions.

Experiments and Results

There are two experiments in this case which were performed to assess various issues in organisms. The first experiment was meant to assess the effects of dosages of 0.025mg/kg or average 0.05mg/kg of the NMDA receptor antagonistic (MK801) on the number of training days. According to the experiment it was established that the above dosages did not increase the time required to attain the criterion for extinction (Schmidt 2011). In addition, there was no effect on the training time required to attain the criterion for extinction.

On the other hand, the second experiment, which involved the use of higher dosages of 0.10mg/kg of MK801 or the introduction of the potentiating (long-term), did not change the amount of responses that were experienced in the acquisition stage. Therefore, this information purports that Hippocampal contingency plays minor roles in instrumental development and learning if undemanding contingency situations are applied.

This concludes that Hippocampal LTP shows a perceptual course that gives various results in spatial cognition, classical and instrumental situations. The long term potentiation is a mechanism that shows the relationship between the behaviors of an organism while under the influence of a substance. This effect was present in the Hippocampal formation which is connected to the processes of memory and learning. In addition, long-term potentiating is largely associated with the effects of classical conditioning and spatial learning (Schmidt 2011). The results showed that induction rather than maintenance of long-term potentiation, which necessitates, the need for NMDA (N-Methyl-Disparate) receptor cells that dominate the Hippocampal area.

Therefore, Hippocampal synaptic that depends on NDMA potentiation manifest their forms in different ways in terms of learning by association. The use of manipulated Hippocampal synapses transmission is commonly used in spatial cognition and classical conditioning. However, hippocampus is not entirely responsible for acquiring classical condition responses, but the introduction of LTP in the hippocampus is likely to influence learning in individuals (Schmidt 2011).

This means that learning is hampered when NMDA-receptor is introduced to block the long-term potentiation. This proves that unusual Hippocampal activities have more effects on the process of conditional learning than extraction of the structure. Moreover, LTP has no effect on spatial cognition even though its blockage leads to slow rate of partial learning. Similarly, Hippocampal damage has no effect on instrumental learning if other reinforcements are not employed in the process. The first experiment explored the behavior (dropping and acquisition) of appetite as a result of the introduction of MK801, NMDA and a potent factor that are responsible for barring the establishment of LTP in the Hippocampal production.

The use of eighteen adult rats that were placed in an equal proportion of light and darkness with constant water supply but limited diet was employed in this experiment. The experiment was done during the light stages (Shumway-Coo 2011). The specimens were injected with the hydrogen maleate (MK801) and intraperitoneal thirty minutes before each session of training. Every day, auto shaped bar press responses and food reinforcements were used as shown in models 84222 and 81330.

The analysis of variance report showed similarities among all groups of specimens used. Therefore, this means that low levels of dosage of NMDA and MK801 have no effects on the rates of extinction or acquisition at the instrumental appetitive conditioning stage. However, if these substances are administered in large dosage, there are high chances that they will affect acquisition in learning. The procedure used in this experiment is similar to the one applied in the first one.

In the second experiment, the effects of high dosages of MK801 were assessed. In addition, the experiment explored the how the introduction of long –term potentiation affects the acquisition of instrumental responses in the specimens. The training sessions took twenty minutes to increase the time taken to achieve criterion and sensitize measures regarding variations in the groups’ results (Schmidt 2011). The experiment involved eighteen male rats that were grouped in fours or threes. They were injected with high dosages of 0.10mg/kg of MK801. Those that were injected the LTP and microelectrodes implanted in them were six.

It was necessary to place them on restricted diets to make sure they attained their normal size before the training sessions. The animals were anesthetized, and stimulating electrodes inserted in their in their skulls and were allowed a week to heal. Extreme frequency impulses of 400 Hz, 50ms were induced in the specimens in four days at an interval of ten minutes. It was expected that ALTP specimens show at least doubling of the amplitude as a result of stimulation by a pulse meant to arouse at most 20% amplitude. As a result, there was no stimulation after the experiment begun. There was the need to replace electrophysiological recordings of the LTP specimens due to degradation.

The ANOVA procedure showed a significant effect on group and session measures on the amount of responses received (Shumway-Coo 2011). Therefore, this means that the rates of learning increased with repeated sessions of experimental training as shown in the second figure. The second experiment shows that the rate at which organisms acquired appetitive instrumental behavior was not altered by the introducing or blocking LTP in their bodies. Similarly, the introduction of LTP did not speed up learning as well as the blocking of NMDA receptors with high levels of MK801. Therefore, LTP plays a minor role in acquiring a bar press response even though, it occurs as a result of instrumental learning.


The results of these experiments show that the introduction of LTP in organisms does not influence the rates of learning and memory. However, when introduced together with other reinforces like increased dosages of substrates, there are higher chances of increasing rates of learning. The main strength of this experiment lies in their use of rats and rabbits that share most physiological aspects with human beings. Their feeding habits are related to those of human beings (Shumway-Coo 2011).

Therefore, the results can be linked to human behavior. The findings play vital roles in enhancing learning in students including those with disabilities. These findings help to develop teaching skills in learning institutions. However, the experiments have no guarantee that the animals used as specimens will survive after the experiments are completed. The second experiment involved some torturous procedures of skull piercing to insert the receptors. This is an illegal practice that violates animal rights.


Schmidt, R. (2011). Motor Control and Learning: A Behavioral Emphasis. Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics.

Shumway-Coo, A. (2011). Motor Control: Translating Research into Clinical Practice. New York: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

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"Hippocampal Synaptic Plasticity During Instrumental Learning." IvyPanda, 29 Nov. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/hippocampal-synaptic-plasticity-during-instrumental-learning/.

1. IvyPanda. "Hippocampal Synaptic Plasticity During Instrumental Learning." November 29, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/hippocampal-synaptic-plasticity-during-instrumental-learning/.


IvyPanda. "Hippocampal Synaptic Plasticity During Instrumental Learning." November 29, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/hippocampal-synaptic-plasticity-during-instrumental-learning/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Hippocampal Synaptic Plasticity During Instrumental Learning." November 29, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/hippocampal-synaptic-plasticity-during-instrumental-learning/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Hippocampal Synaptic Plasticity During Instrumental Learning'. 29 November.

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