Special Issue "Neural Mechanisms of Learning"

A special issue of Biomedicines (ISSN 2227-9059).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 March 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Tobias Schmidt-Wilcke

1. Department of Neurology, St. Mauritius Therapieklinik, 40670 Meerbusch, Germany
2. Institute of Clinical Neuroscience and Medical Psychology, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Interests: neuroplasticity; learning; perception; pain

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Motor, perceptual and semantic learning are believed to be enabled by means of neural plasticity which can be studied on different levels of complexity, ranging from the synaptic level through studies of neural circuitry of whole brain networks. The neural mechanisms of learning, memory formation and decision making remain to be fully elucidated. Neuroscientists apply a variety of methods, both in animals and humans, ranging from single cell recordings to whole brain imaging, to disentangle specific aspects of learning. Although our knowledge of neural mechanisms underlying learning and improving performance constantly grows, the integration of this knowledge to provide a conceptual framework of neural plasticity occurring on different levels of organization remains challenging.

Authors are invited to submit original or review articles addressing mechanisms of learning, on all levels of complexity. Additionally, articles applying computational neuroscience are welcome.

Prof. Tobias Schmidt-Wilcke
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Biomedicines is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 550 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • learning
  • neuroplasticity
  • cortical plasticity
  • perception
  • sensory integration
  • memory formation
  • decision making

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessCommunication GABA Levels in Left and Right Sensorimotor Cortex Correlate across Individuals
Biomedicines 2018, 6(3), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines6030080
Received: 6 June 2018 / Revised: 27 June 2018 / Accepted: 17 July 2018 / Published: 24 July 2018
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Abstract
Differences in γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels measured with Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy have been shown to correlate with behavioral performance over a number of tasks and cortical regions. These correlations appear to be regionally and functionally specific. In this study, we test the hypothesis
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Differences in γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels measured with Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy have been shown to correlate with behavioral performance over a number of tasks and cortical regions. These correlations appear to be regionally and functionally specific. In this study, we test the hypothesis that GABA levels will be correlated within individuals for functionally related regions—the left and right sensorimotor cortex. In addition, we investigate whether this is driven by bulk tissue composition. GABA measurements using edited MRS data were acquired from the left and right sensorimotor cortex in 24 participants. T1-weighted MR images were also acquired and segmented to determine the tissue composition of the voxel. GABA level is shown to correlate significantly between the left and right regions (r = 0.64, p < 0.03). Tissue composition is highly correlated between sides, but does not explain significant variance in the bilateral correlation. In conclusion, individual differences in GABA level, which have previously been described as functionally and regionally specific, are correlated between homologous sensorimotor regions. This correlation is not driven by bulk differences in voxel tissue composition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neural Mechanisms of Learning)
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Graphical abstract

Open AccessArticle The Effect of Training-Induced Visual Imageability on Electrophysiological Correlates of Novel Word Processing
Biomedicines 2018, 6(3), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines6030075
Received: 16 May 2018 / Revised: 20 June 2018 / Accepted: 21 June 2018 / Published: 1 July 2018
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Abstract
The concreteness effect (CE) describes a processing advantage for concrete over abstract words. Electrophysiologically, the CE manifests in higher N400 and N700 amplitudes for concrete words. The contribution of the stimulus-inherent imageability to the electrophysiological correlates of the CE is not yet fully
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The concreteness effect (CE) describes a processing advantage for concrete over abstract words. Electrophysiologically, the CE manifests in higher N400 and N700 amplitudes for concrete words. The contribution of the stimulus-inherent imageability to the electrophysiological correlates of the CE is not yet fully unraveled. This EEG study focused on the role of imageability irrespective of concreteness by examining the effects of training-induced visual imageability on the processing of novel words. In two training sessions, 21 healthy participants learned to associate novel words with pictures of novel objects as well as electron-microscopical structures and were additionally familiarized with novel words without any picture association. During a post-training EEG session, participants categorized trained novel words with or without picture association, together with real concrete and abstract words. Novel words associated with novel object pictures during the training elicited a higher N700 than familiarized novel words without picture-association. Crucially, this training-induced N700 effect resembled the CE found for real words. However, a CE on the N400 was found for real words, but no effect of imageability in novel words. The results suggest that the N400 CE for real words depends on the integration of multiple semantic features, while mere visual imageability might contribute to the CE in the N700 time window. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neural Mechanisms of Learning)
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Graphical abstract

Open AccessArticle Human Depotentiation following Induction of Spike Timing Dependent Plasticity
Biomedicines 2018, 6(2), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines6020071
Received: 15 March 2018 / Revised: 17 May 2018 / Accepted: 4 June 2018 / Published: 18 June 2018
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Abstract
Depotentiation (DP) is a crucial mechanism for the tuning of memory traces once LTP (Long Term Potentiation) has been induced via learning, artificial procedures, or other activities. Putative unuseful LTP might be abolished via this process. Its deficiency is thought to play a
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Depotentiation (DP) is a crucial mechanism for the tuning of memory traces once LTP (Long Term Potentiation) has been induced via learning, artificial procedures, or other activities. Putative unuseful LTP might be abolished via this process. Its deficiency is thought to play a role in pathologies, such as drug induced dyskinesia. However, since it is thought that it represents a mechanism that is linked to the susceptibility to interference during consolidation of a memory trace, it is an important process to consider when therapeutic interventions, such as psychotherapy, are administered. Perhaps a person with an abnormal depotentiation is prone to lose learned effects very easily or on the other end of the spectrum is prone to overload with previously generated unuseful LTP. Perhaps this process partly explains why some disorders and patients are extremely resistant to therapy. The present study seeks to quantify the relationship between LTP and depotentiation in the human brain by using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) over the cortex of healthy participants. The results provide further evidence that depotentiation can be quantified in humans by use of noninvasive brain stimulation techniques. They provide evidence that a nonfocal rhythmic on its own inefficient stimulation, such as a modified thetaburst stimulation, can depotentiate an associative, focal spike timing-dependent PAS (paired associative stimulation)-induced LTP. Therefore, the depotentiation-like process does not seem to be restricted to specific subgroups of synapses that have undergone LTP before. Most importantly, the induced LTP seems highly correlated with the amount of generated depotentiation in healthy individuals. This might be a phenomenon typical of health and might be distorted in brain pathologies, such as dystonia, or dyskinesias. The ratio of LTP/DP might be a valuable marker for potential distortions of persistence versus deletion of memory traces represented by LTP-like plasticity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neural Mechanisms of Learning)
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Review

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Open AccessReview Learning and Unlearning of Pain
Biomedicines 2018, 6(2), 67; https://doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines6020067
Received: 17 April 2018 / Revised: 23 May 2018 / Accepted: 1 June 2018 / Published: 5 June 2018
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Abstract
This review provides an overview of learning mechanisms and memory aspects for the development of chronic pain. Pain can be influenced in important ways by an individual’s personality, by family, and by the sociocultural environment in which they live. Therefore, learning mechanisms can
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This review provides an overview of learning mechanisms and memory aspects for the development of chronic pain. Pain can be influenced in important ways by an individual’s personality, by family, and by the sociocultural environment in which they live. Therefore, learning mechanisms can explain why pain experience and pain behavior can increase or decrease. Linking pain with positive consequences or removing negative consequences can contribute significantly to the chronification of pain. We will provide an overview of treatment options that use the characteristics of extinction. Operant extinction training and cognitive behavioral approaches show promising results for the treatment of chronic pain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neural Mechanisms of Learning)
Open AccessReview Neural Oscillatory Correlates for Conditioning and Extinction of Fear
Biomedicines 2018, 6(2), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines6020049
Received: 15 March 2018 / Revised: 23 April 2018 / Accepted: 28 April 2018 / Published: 1 May 2018
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Abstract
The extinction of conditioned-fear represents a hallmark of current exposure therapies as it has been found to be impaired in people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety. A large body of knowledge focusing on psychophysiological animal and human studies suggests the
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The extinction of conditioned-fear represents a hallmark of current exposure therapies as it has been found to be impaired in people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety. A large body of knowledge focusing on psychophysiological animal and human studies suggests the involvement of key brain structures that interact via neural oscillations during the acquisition and extinction of fear. Consequently, neural oscillatory correlates of such mechanisms appear relevant regarding the development of novel therapeutic approaches to counterbalance abnormal activity in fear-related brain circuits, which, in turn, could alleviate fear and anxiety symptoms. Here, we provide an account of state-of-the-art neural oscillatory correlates for the conditioning and extinction of fear, and also deal with recent translational efforts aimed at fear extinction by neural oscillatory modulation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neural Mechanisms of Learning)
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