Researchers Solve Longtime Puzzle About How We Learn

Baltimore, MD (Scicasts) — More than a century ago, Pavlov figured out that dogs fed after hearing a bell eventually began to salivate when they heard the ring. A Johns Hopkins University-led research team has now figured out a key aspect of why. In the current issue of the journal Neuron, neuroscientist Alfredo Kirkwood settles a long-running debate in neurology: Precisely what happens in the brain when we learn? In other words, neurologically speaking, how did Pavlov’s dogs learn to associate a ringing bell with the delayed reward that followed? For decades, scientists have had a working theory, but Kirkwood’s team is now the first to prove it. “If you’re trying to train a dog to sit, the initial neural stimuli, the command, is gone almost instantly — it lasts…


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