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Emotion Induced Amnesia In Rats: Working Memory Specific Impairment, Corticosterone Memory Correlation, And Fear Versus Arousal Effects On Memory.

1073 words - 4 pages

Have you ever gone to see a really scary movie only to come out and forget where you parked you car? Did you stop to think about why you forgot? What was going on in your brain to make you forget? Well in the experiment you are about to learn, the psychologists attempted to do just that, only their subjects were rats. Previous experiments have shown that stress impairs memory, more specifically, spatial memory. This experiment builds on that. However, in order to understand what happened, you need to know a few key terms.Spatial memory is the learning and retrieval (remembering) of previous experiences in a certain environment, kind of like studying for a test (Adelson). You learn the material and have to remember it come test time. Working memory (short-term memory) is dependent on the hippocampus to remember newly acquired info (psycheducation). The hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for forming new memories. For example, in the movie 50 First Dates (with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore) Barrymore suffered damage to her hippocampus. This eliminated her ability to remember events that had just happened (short term memory). Reference memory (long term memory), on the other hand, is not dependent on the hippocampus because information is being learned over a longer period of time and being stored in other parts of the brain.In the Woodson, et al., 2003 study, the rats' memory was tested using a Radial Arm Water Maze (RAWM). The RAWM is a tank filled with water. There are six arms that meet in the middle. The illustration is an example of what one may look like. The rat is placed in one of the arms and has to find its way to the platform hidden just below the water's surface on another arm.There were two experiments in this study; the first one used three groups of rats, two of which were used to test working memory. The third group tested reference memory. This was important because if the data from the RM group was similar to the findings of the WM group, it could be argued that the fear of the cat affected the rats' ability to perform the task rather than affect its memory.The rats were placed in the RAWM. They had four tries to find the platform. For each of the four trials, if they went down the wrong arm of the maze it was counted as an error. After those four tries, they were taken back to their home cages for thirty minutes. After the thirty minutes were up, the rats were placed back in the RAWM. They received another four tries to find the platform, however, that first attempt is referred to as the Retention Trial (RT). Success on these attempts, more specifically Trial 5 and 6, showed the rats had learned the location. The number of errors for trial 5-8 was recorded.In the WM group, the location of the platform was moved for the next day's trials. The rats would have to learn the new location each day. The location of the platform in the RM group, on the other hand, did not change throughout the entire course of the...

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